Baroness, hailing from Georgia and fronted by singer/guitarist John Baizley,
created one of the most eclectic fusion of
post-metal and post-stoner elements on the EPs
First (Hyperrealist, 2004) and Second (Hyperrealist), 2005), later collected on First and Second, each containing three pieces.
The first one contains Tower Falls, that runs grafts
retro elements of progressive-rock and hard-rock of the 1970s onto
stereotypes of death-metal and metalcore such as galopping guitars and gothic growls,
Coeur, a briefer demonstration of their ability to bridge old-fashioned
boogie-rock and progressive metal,
and Rise, highlighted by a sophisticated guitar overture that slowly leads to metal grandeur and by a tormented finale.
The second EP contains
Red Sky, that ends up being a bit confusing with its continuous
Son Of Sun, a much better psychological build-up that opens with
guitar vertigoes and even sinks in ghostly quasi-silence before skyrocketing
to delirious frenzy, and
Vision, that opens with psychedelic sounds and accelerates to a galactic
crescendo only to settle into a distorted exotic melody with dancing drums.
Both EPs showed an elegant amalgamation of traditions while laying the foundations
for an original style.
A Grey Sigh in a Flower Husk (2007) was a split album with Unpersons.
Red Album (Relapse, 2007) pushed the envelop even further, derailing
deconstructing defanging multiple genres such as hardcore, stoner-rock,
doom-metal and grindcore with surgical ferocity.
Rays On Pinion begins as an impressionistic instrumental, and then
turns into a tense melodrama with clean vocals,
The vocals are even more intense on Isak, highlighted by
guitar prowess and mighty drumming.
A lengthy elaborate instrumental introduction justifies the pathos of
Wailing Wintry Wind, one of the most effective pieces thanks to a
minuscule vocal part.
Unrelenting guitar histrionics cements the howling desperation of
Wanderlust, with vocals that repeat themselves but thankfully
don't try to modulate a refrain.
These two centerpieces are emblematic of the psychological power of the guitar
Aleph is basically a bluesy jam in disguise, having deformed the whole
structure but kept the dominating role of ruvid hypnotic
agonizing guitar riffs and having reduced the anguished vocals to mere screams.
There are even less metal moments, like the
instrumental Teeth Of A Cogwheel, the
acoustic intermezzo Cockroach En Fleur and the
quietly anthemic Grad.
Each song is a kaleidoscope of understated melodies, post-rock alienation,
metalcore fury, stoner languor and cerebral drumming.
The weakest element is John Baizley's voice, that fails to significantly
differentiate one song from the other.
Baroness turned infectiously poppy and completely idiosyncratic for
Blue Record (Relapse, 2009), that featured new guitarist Pete Adams,
a significant addition.
The continuous shifts of style were more than a display of technical vanity
or a sign of erratic aloofness: they were veritable
The best song, A Horse Called Golgotha, turns
Mastodon's progressive theatrics into
a touching psychodrama.
In several places the album sounds like a bridge between past and future.
The emphatic growling, pounding drums and burning guitars of
The Sweetest Curse marked a return to the early style but within a
streamlined structure and a simple melodic theme,
while peaks of jarring discordance are achieved in Swollen and Halo.
The pastoral and church-like motet Steel That Sleeps the Eye
and the pathetic lament of Bullhead's Lament
are balanced by the lumbering breathless O'er Hell And Hide.
Ideas abound, from the tribal drumming of Jake Leg to the
circular guitar patterns of The Gnashing,
even though they probably don't match the cornucopia of the first album.
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