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Album Reviews : Baroness – Blue Record

By on December 10, 2009

baroness1Above absolutely anything else, the one thing that really, really makes me appreciate an album is when it sounds like a whole. When an album sounds like an album, not just a bunch of songs, like the way Pink Floyd albums used to sound. And I don’t necessarily mean they have to be concept albums or minus any gaps between songs, I mean the way an album is organised; contrast and flow, songs sounding like they need to be how and where they are to make it all just work. It’s not often an album like that comes around, but ‘Blue Record’ is one.

‘Blue Record’ has a huge array of influences and sounds. The trippy acoustic interlude “Steel That Sleeps The Eye”, the Colour Haze-esque groove of “The Gnashing”, the catchy rock attitude of “Swollen and Halo”, the disco drumming and spoken words of “O’er Hell and Hide” (perhaps the most interesting piece of music on here), and so on and so forth. Almost every track has something different going for it, but they still sound like the brother and/or sister of the song before and/or after it.

Much to the potential dismay of many Baroness fans, the band have once again moved further away from their sludge origins. I found ‘Red Album’, as a sludge recording, a bit lacking in power. I’m usually craving a bit of Rosetta or Ufomammut by the end of it. ‘Blue Record’ on the other hand doesn’t leave me like that. It’s not because it’s any better in that department, it’s because it doesn’t feel as though it’s actually supposed to be a sludge album. It’s just supposed to be a fucking great album.

It does have its downfalls though. Some sections (see “Swollen and Halo”) lean a bit too much toward indie rock structures, resulting in a few choruses that sound a bit too… normal, compared to what’s around it. The “A Horse Called Golgotha” chorus reminds me of Blink 182 or one of those kind of bands. Not quite as horrible, obviously, but that’s still not a fucking good thing. And a few of the drum parts (again, see “Swollen and Halo”) are just mind-numbingly boring.

In the end, this is a bloody interesting forty-five minutes of music. On the first play through, you’ll really be struggling to predict where it’s going to go. It might have its iffy moments but there are no bad tracks, and the instrumental interludes are just as enjoyable and as crucial as the longer songs. Plus, the artwork is bloody phenomenal. 8/10

Band: Baroness
Album: Blue Record
Year: 2009
Genre: Progressive Metal/Sludge
Label: Relapse Records/Riot! Entertainment
Origin: USA

Track listing:
1. Bullhead’s Psalm
2. The Sweetest Curse
3. Jake Leg
4. Steel That Sleeps the Eye
5. Swollen and Halo
6. Ogeechee Hymnal
7. A Horse Called Golgotha
8. O’er Hell and Hide <- Reviewers choice
9. War, Wisdom and Rhyme
10. Blackpowder Orchard
11. The Gnashing
12. Bullhead’s Lament


Mitch Booth is the owner, designer and grand overlord of Metal Obsession. In the few seconds of spare time he has outside of this site, he also hosts a metal radio show over on PBS 106.7fm in Melbourne (Australia) and organises shows under the name Untitled Touring. You should follow him on Twitter.