Tuesday, January 22, 2008

BARONESS — RED ALBUM

BARONESS — RED ALBUM

Competing for best album of the year HAS to be Baroness' Red Album, a serious addition to the new alternative metal scene.

It starts off disarmingly — nearly 4 minutes are spent on what sounds like Van Halen's contribution to the post-rock scene with the noodley guitar, rolling drums and Rush chord changes. Then the whole sound suddenly gets Mastadon big and the nu-metal meets emo wailing hits (old-school emo... more Rainer Maria than mall goth).

And the whole thing builds from there, songs drift between tracks, make radical changes in the middle of tracks as the great big glacier of Baroness cuts and etches its way through the sonic landscapes all the while picking up whatever it doesn't crush. Southern rock, prog rock, arena rock... it adds it, carries it, changes it, crushes it.

It's muscular rockandroll, it isn't afraid of exploring long, thematic instrumental passages (sometimes, dirge n' crunchy, sometimes noodley and masturbatory); it's epic and it's personal. There's catharsis in the screaming and some of the playing is introspective... but the lyrics are nearly impossible to understand. It's like an all-purpose wallow or get it off your chest album.

It's too Guns 'n' Roses to be Yes, too Rush to be Van Halen, too Pink Floyd to be AC/DC and too Motorhead to be Radiohead... but it's really all those things in some weirdly seamless, absolutely fun album, pretty much summed up in Cockroach en Fleur (even the title embodies the silly contradictions), the strongest and most varied while sounding the most consistent song on the album.

The only real misstep on the album is the closing 'hidden track' (oh how you novelty has worn off, hidden track!). It's close to 12 minutes of nothing with a quick little country jam in the last few seconds. Why go out on such a lame note with so little lame to speak of before that?

That waste aside, this is an AWESOME album.

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