Baroness - Yellow & Green Review
Posted by Robert Cooper on 08.14.2012
Baroness are back from a three year hiatus, boasting a sound far different than their roots! But is this album a new age for the band or will the smooth sailing ship hit a rock? 411's Robert Cooper checks in with his full review!
Baroness is a band that has been well regarded within the metal community. With their sludgy riffs and progressive touches they have crafted two albums, the first being 'Red Album' and the second being 'Blue Record'. They are regarded as very good by some and a classic by others (me being in the latter category). With this new double disc release 'Yellow & Green', the band has crafted a sound that is different from their past albums, but do they make it work? Only one way to know, let's start the show!
Our first disc, 'Yellow', starts appropriately enough with "Yellow Theme", it's quite short, and a nice little acoustic song that has some feeling of blues to me, though it is followed by something a bit different.
The lead single "Take My Bones Away" is probably the heaviest song on the entire 2-disc set, I also find it to be the best song on the set. The opening of it is catchy enough to keep you listening, and the harmonized chorus will more than likely have it stuck in your head for a bit. The instrumental sections in the song are on the progressive side, with tinges of keyboard in the background and the rest of the band playing a groovy little jam that leads into another repeat of the chorus. Then a guitar lead of is given, and we get to our next song. "March to the Sea", it starts soft and then the verse of it has a bit of the old sludge to it, because it has John Baizley giving a bit of his old sludge yell, but once the chorus hits, it is back to that catchiness that will be prevalent in this record.
Next is "Little Things", which sounds different from the other songs, this time they give a bit of a feeling that The Cure would give, though it has a twist or two during the whole ride, including a pretty good ending to the song. "Twinkler" is up next, and it is light and airy on the instruments, but what it lacks in power from there, it makes up for in a nice bit of harmony, but it just kind of feels like a track that is just okay and probably won't be listened to again. "Cocainium" starts much in the same vein that "Twinkler" ended, and then gets a 70s groove on it, the keyboards and bass make up a lot of the sound of the song, I like it for the fact that it is yet another trick in Baroness's arsenal. "Back Where I Belong" is a decent song, the solo section in the middle is well done, but the rest of it doesn't really impress me, just kind of a forgettable and a little poppy in flavor. "Sea Lungs" is a bit heavier than the previous songs, and has a small Muse flavor to it at first, probably due to the driving beat that it has, but also seems to borrow some from 70s prog music. "Eula" is a song that at first listen, I was on the fence about, but re-listening to it, I can say that I like the song, it has all the parts to make an opus, and after a listen or two, you truly get the feel that it is one.
We then start off the 'Green' disc with, who'd have guess, "Green Theme", it has a much different feel that the opener before it with a twang of country to it, another odd direction for the second album of this set. After that we get another song that I ended up singing much after the first listen, "Board Up the House", this one has a strong bass line to it, and is kind of monotonous with its groove, but a fun song that I'd be happy to sing with again. Following that is "Mtns. (The Crown & Anchor)", this song has more harmonies to it, and is a bit of a darker tone to it in some spots, but I think that the song is not a bad listen, another song that I could listen to again. "Foolsong" is kind of slow and somber, not offensive, just kind of forgettable, sadly. "Collapse" is more of the same, the same feel as "Foolsong," just kind of slow and blends into the scenery. Baroness do a good job of playing these songs, they are songs that on a first listen, I enjoy, I only give them grief about these slow and quiet songs because they have are solid tracks, but they don't make me stand up and say "I like this song", or even get stuck in my head, they are just there to fill the time.
"Psalms Alive" has a few elements of psychedelia to it, and this is a good change from the more somber tones of the few songs before this one, until the end, where we get slow and somber again, and this leads into the soft acoustic chords of "Stretchmarker", which is another good showing of the band's skill on their instruments, though kind of has a small feel of southern folk to it. After that is something that cleanses the palette of all of those somber and quiet songs, "The Line Between", this song brings out that hard rock that the band has desperately needed for this second album, most of the songs have been melancholy in nature, and a shot of adrenaline like this is what I felt this part of the set needed. We end in an another instrumental, "If I Forget Thee, Lowcountry", it has a bit of a western feel to it, with the way it was laid out evoking the feelings of the credits for an old western movie.
Overall, perhaps my disappointment is due to the fact that I wanted something closer to the first two albums, but overall this is in the wheelhouse of anyone who likes 90s alternative and hard rock. There wasn't really a need for two separate discs; the two are pretty much similar, with the 'Green' disc being a lot slower. A lot could have been done with the musical ideas that the band has shown that they have throughout the entire 2-disc set, I like that they brought so much to the party, I just kind of wish that instead of so many soft songs that are kind of short and bore me a bit, they would have put a little more of their progressive influences in play and spiced those songs up with some of those ideas that they underused. Perhaps had they gone a direction like Opeth did for their last album that was a sound change to progressive rock/metal, and embraced those progressive roots this album would be a little better, in my opinion.
The 411: I felt that this 2-disc set brought a lot to the table, but in the process became a disjointed and bloated affair. When the band is on their game, they are producing some of the best music of the year, but when the song just kind of floats on a fluffy cloud, it leaves the listener bored. That being said, this is a very accessible album, and I feel like with a stronger grasp of the ideas that they have planted in this album, Baroness will be back to releasing classic albums.