Blue Record

Written by: TL on 26/11/2009 17:44:53

My apologies dear reader, for staying away from writing for over a week, leaving our evil editor to dominate the front page unchallenged. I excuse myself on the grounds of the next batch of records I am about to review, as all of them have fallen within the range of excellency, and have hence demanded that I gave them more than the few spins I tend to tribute easily accessible records. This goes more so for Baroness, and their sophomore "Blue Record", than it does for any other band, as anyone who have heard of them will surely recognize, that this Georgia four-piece is really really fuckin' hard to get into.

Looking at reviews in respectable publications, Baroness is praised to the skies, and deservedly so, because when I listen to "Blue Record", even I can tell that this band resides on a whole other plane of existence than most contemporary acts. Still however, as much as their material emits awesomeness, I have a multiple problems when it comes to thinking of them as a band I want to pick up and put on all the time, and as wonder if a descriptions of these problems is in fact not the best way to possibly define Baroness, and "Blue Album", for you.

To newcomers, I'll reveal that Baroness stand for an extremely refined and rarely heard brand of stoned out metal'n'roll, with guitars as heavy as buildings and the momentum of a pack of rhinos. Those unfamiliar with similar bands, like Kylesa and Mastodon, would have to look to Queens Of The Stone Age for any remote resemblance, and still, Baroness are much heavier and much harder to access, so suffice to say, if you aren't prepared for something heavy and uncompromising, you'll get flattened.

My main issue with Baroness is that they seem to be the purest representation of the term 'autonomous art' that I can think of, which means that they play music that sounds awesome, for no other sake than playing music that sounds awesome. Their compositions are complex, their dynamics are efficient, and "Blue Album" constantly treats the listener to an impression that looms over you like a gigantic, frozen, tidal wave. But as you bang your head (for fear the band will crush you otherwise?) and brandish your illusory instrument to the sound of Baroness' banquet of tasty licks - and there are many and they are magnificent - your mind, accustomed to the commodity of modern music, will form inside itself the question: "Why? What is this for?"

You see, if there is a point - a feeling, a story or a statement - that Baroness want to make with either songs or album, they keep it guarded tighter than Fort Knox. The gruff, macho roars that make up the vocal work, seem added almost like an after-thought in comparison to the complexity of the instruments, and the compositions seem to be in no mind to provide you with any easy hooks, let alone notions of a sensible curve of intensity. Rather Baroness put the hammer down from point one, and then keep putting it down, hard and relentless, for almost the entire record, and even when they occasionally soften up the sound, the expression still somehow seems adamant.

The band's own myspace quotes for saying "In a perfect world, Blue Record would make Baroness one of the biggest bands in the world today" and if you interpret that correctly, it couldn't be more dead on - Because if a perfect world is one where the people are accustomed to appreciate music, exclusively on the grounds of sonic brilliance, then Baroness would indeed sit on a throne in that world. In this world however, the fact that they seem as impenetrable as a mountain-sized diamond, means that even a reviewer like me, who's used to paying more than a normal amount of attention to good records, is having a hard time making friends with "Blue Record". For those that have the interest and the patience it takes to pay the album the oceans of time it will probably demand, the reward is a treasure trove of awesomeness beyond imagination, but for the average joe, it will merely be "cool, but hardly memorable". So the question remains; Do rate albums like elitists or like impatient consumers? I guess I'll rate it as myself, and then you get to decide where in between the two poles I'm located.

Download: (I'm not sure the concept of downloading a few songs, makes any sense in the world of Baroness)
For The Fans Of: Kylesa, Mastodon, Queens Of The Stone Age, He Is Legend (@ "It Hates You")

Release Date 19.10.2009
Relapse / Hyperrealist / At A Loss (records)

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