Thursday, December 17, 2015
Baroness : " Purple"
It would be next to impossible for this album to live up to the hype that precedes. The most pressing issue was vocalist John Baizley putting the Metallica like vocals that plagued the last album in check . The horse has left the barn if you are expecting a metal record, it's firmly rooted in hard rock, while some of the riffs are catchy and tough , like Mastodon they are not going back to their old sound. While the lead single "Shock Me " is catchy it reminds me of late 90s post-hardcore bands, Handsome, which had members of Helmet in their ranks. The more post-punk croon of "Try to Disappear" is a direction that is even more appealing. The rough edges of their former sludgey past are nowhere to be found , but that is o.k. since the hooks are strong enough to make you forget it. I like their "Red" album, but have been a marginally fan at best since so I am not invested in their sound as some of their more devoted fan base might be. There is almost a more Minus the Bear element to the brisk paced "Kerosene".
The vocals are really well produced on this album and the use of effects often keeps them from having the beer rock sound of the last album.With slick little interludes that give a nod to classic rock things really get different on the Pink Floydian prog of "Chlorine & Wine". The tones milked from their instruments are outstanding, the vocals try harder and push out at muscular melody before going into a more arena rock sound. Dynamically way more colors are being infused into their sound. There is more drive to the more straight ahead "The Iron Bell" that puts the band closer to Torche in their attack. I prefer the more groove infused "Desperation Burns". Some of the atmospherics drizzled over the song in places are a little awkward, but over it rocks pretty solidly. With the song titled "If Have to Wake Up (Would You Stop the Rain)" I expected a power ballad, and it does back off to explore a more emotional side of the band. I am not sure I would go as far as calling it a ballad thanks to the drums which keep it moving ahead.
I think this is growth for the band , while the sound has familiar elements it is new for them and a much better turn of events than the previous. Does this belong on any top end of the year metal lists? Well if you are a pussy who think that this is metal, then there is no accounting for your taste in the first place. They certainly rock out here, but never get actually heavy, I think the Royal Thunder album which is most certainly just rock is heavier than this one, however this is a must if you are a fan of the band or the post- Helmet era of alt-rock from the late 90s. I'll give it an 8.5.