Saturday 26 December 2015

Baroness - Purple (Album Review)

Release date: December 18th 2015. Label: Abraxan Hymns. Format: CD/DD/Vinyl

Purple – Tracklisting

01. Morningstar
02. Shock Me
03. Try to Disappear
04. Kerosene
05. Fugue
06. Chlorine & Wine
07. The Iron Bell
08. Desperation Burns
09. If I Have to Wake Up (Would You Stop the Rain)
10. Crossroads of Infinity

Band Members:

John Baizley - guitar, vocals
Pete Adams - guitar, vocals
Sebastian Thomson – drums
Nick Jost – bass/keyboard


Yellow & Green was a major turning point in Baroness music career as it’s an album that divided fans and critics alike. They went through a terrible experience in 2012 when they were involved in a major bus crash in the United Kingdom. The members ended up hospitalised and as a result two members of the band (Alan Bickle and Matt Maggioni) left the band in 2013.

It took a long time for Baroness to regroup with the current members they have now and to record their follow-up to Yellow & Green with Purple. A lot has been riding on this album especially since the band is releasing this album on their own label – Abraxan Hymns. Could the band reclaim past glories and regain some of the fans they lost with Yellow & Green. I like to think they have or at least return to their earlier heavier sound seen on Red and Blue.

Opening track – Morningstar is classic Baroness through and through. Fast-paced progressive sludge riffs with a stunning twin-dual guitar backdrop that would make Thin Lizzy proud. This is the best John Baizley has sounded since the Blue Record. Full of confidence and a knowing swagger to prove why he’s thought of so highly. The 70s sounding psych riffs add a classic rock touch. Though these songs are Baroness through and through with sludgy and progressive riffs are the main order of business.

Second track – Shock Me – seems like a lost track from Yellow & Green especially with the opening low-key synths before Baroness unleash a trademark thunderous riff. John’s vocals impress yet again as he sings his heart out here. The lyrics are very heartfelt and emotional which isn’t surprising with what they’ve experienced in the past. Swirls of psych rock appear now and then but it’s the familiar dual guitars of John and Pete that holds everything together.

Third track – Try To Disappear – is more prog/psych rock with the Sludgy riffs kept to a minimum. It’s still a very loud affair as it allows Baroness to try different things with their sound. It’s a very commanding song that’s perhaps one of the albums stand-out songs.

Fourth track – Kerosene – has quite a jagged and choppy approach as the riffs have a stop/start feel. It can be quite poppy in places but that’s a good thing as Baroness have written a fantastic sing-along chorus for you to join in. Ambient noises and sounds appear to add a more thrilling edge to the album. Baroness splice Psychedelic Rock into the mix as they leave their Sludge Metal roots behind.

Fifth track – Fugue slows things right down as Baroness open with a trippy semi acoustic riff. It’s more of a smoky jazz/prog rock kind of affair with ambient noises that we haven’t heard from Baroness before.

Sixth track – Chlorine & Wine - is going to be the stand-out song for many as it’s an emotionally challenging song that starts off very slowly but becomes very loud as time goes by. This song is definitely influenced by John’s experiences recovering from the terrible bus crash as the lyrical content is very bleak at times. John pours his heart out hear for everyone to hear and fully experience. Despite the hard subject matter, Baroness play the albums finest riffs as the dual psych guitars become more dream-like. The song ends on a glorious hopeful note that I dare you not to be moved and nod your head in agreement to this highly anthemic song.

There are four songs left on the album. The last song Crossroads Of Infinity is 17 seconds of distorted noise which doesn’t add anything to the album. Before then you’re treated to three excellent songs (The Iron Bell, Desperation Burns and If I Have To Wake Up Next To You (Would You Stop The Rain?) that sees Baroness return to their earlier heavier sludgy riffs with shades Yellow & Green running through out.

Purple is an album Baroness should rightly be proud of as it’s an outstanding album and a welcome return to form, from one of Sludge Rock/Metal’s best bands.

Words by Steve Howe

Thanks to Monica at Speakeasy PR and Phoebe at Parlophone Music for the promo. Purple is available to buy on CD/DD/Vinyl via Abraxan Hymns from all good stockists now.