Baroness: Yellow & Green

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Baroness: Yellow & Green
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Baroness: Yellow & Green
Progressive Rock, Progressive Sludge Metal
Relapse Records
July 17th, 2012
Release length: 1:14:59
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Unless you’ve been living under a rock since 2007, you’ve happened upon the Progressive Rock/Sludge Metal band Baroness. Originating from Savannah, Georgia, the group has been making plenty of waves among the style’s community over the years, and with the help of Relapse Records, has made quite a name for themselves. The group’s last effort, Blue Record, which is one of the group’s highest rated albums to date it seems, dropped back in 2009, leading to a pretty hefty touring schedule and a decent amount of silence as far as new material went. However, for 2012, they return with their latest, a double disc album titled Yellow & Green. With over an hour of new material, is it safe to assume the fans will be rejoicing, or is this effort far from something worth getting worked up over?

Given the obvious seventies and eighties Rock influence in the group’s material, both discs of Yellow & Green have more of an analog sound, but decent modern day clarity. The guitars have a very slight distortion to them, if not cleaner at times, both complimented well by the rich, yet not too deep bass guitar performance. The drums are a little louder in the mix, having cymbals that hold a very slight washout here and there, a nice tuning on the snares that sounds a bit open and lower in output, as well as a decent thud to the bass kicks. Vocally, things do range quite a bit. You can sometimes be met with some distortions, but for the most are handled as clean singing with varied amounts of enery dispersed throughout.

Both discs contain nine songs each, and there’s plenty of solid, catchy material to get into among them, as well as an appropriate introduction marked as the color’s theme. First up is the Yellow disc, kicking things off with a very soothing, almost rainy in atmosphere instrumental before the insanely infectious “Take My Bones Away” starts up. While a rich and upbeat experience, the song still has a calming, laid back quality to it throughout. The chorus finds a little more energy overall, as well as in the guitar solo and the possible keyboard solo around three minutes in. On top of that you also get some catchy additional lead hooks in the background that help weave the proper atmosphere, a tactic utilized quite often. There’s also “Twinkler,” which starts off as a soft acoustic piece that slowly adds electric guitars, some additional keyboards, as well as layered vocals that cause it to shift from a depressing piece to more of a natural Paganism environment with some Folk influence. The restrictive performance does bleed slightly into “Cocainium,” which is a generally lighter song with simpler material that finds distortion on the main vocal performance, giving all but the heavier, catchier solo an easy going feeling.

Green introduces a change in the band’s sound. “Green Theme” is another softer instrumental similar to “Yellow Theme,” though does have some rougher, and obnoxiously loud music here and there. Almost right away, you can pick up on a deeper sound, though still not too different from the other disc. “Board Up the House” is a bass-heavy offering, finding deeper chords at work against lighter, atmospheric leads, but still a rather upbeat Southern Rock foundation that’s pretty easy to get hooked on. There’s also “The Line Between,” which doesn’t come off quite as heavy, but the bass still plays an important role. The tone is a little darker with a bit of a quicker pace in some spots, and a chorus that is a bit on the lighter side. It does slightly conflict with the rest of the song, but the shift into it feels natural, and the energy it brings is hard to resist embracing. There’s more going on in the performance itself as well, being one of the few tracks that offer a little more complexity, which is a much welcome change. “Collapse” is also worth noting. It’s a superb song that finds additional background and guitar effects like digital noise ushering a hint of Space Rock influence, as well as subtle deep reverb roars here and there that seem to play off as thunder. The atmosphere carries an aquatic touch with a final product that’s like suffering through crashing from your favorite vice, or the withdrawl from it, leaving a sobering, grey and rainy emotional experience in its wake you won’t soon forget.

Baroness used the three years between releases to their fullest extent, and it’s obvious with their latest effort. Chock full of catchy songs that verge between quicker and upbeat to dismal and sobering, the double disc album Yellow and Green is one fans are simply not going to want to pass up. The only real gripe would be how loud the guitars can get with certain distortions applied, but that really only occurs a handful of times on the Green disc between two tracks. Other than that, the eighteen songs, including two instrumentals, are all well executed offerings that will have you coming back for more as time goes on. If you haven’t heard of Baroness yet, or have yet to grab your copy of Yellow & Green, you truly are missing out, as this is easily one of Rock’s more important albums in recent years.

Disc One:
01. Yellow Theme – 1:44
02. Take My Bones Away – 4:59
03. March to the Sea – 3:11
04. Little Things – 5:03
05. Twinkler – 3:16
06. Cocainium – 5:08
07. Back Where I Belong – 6:15
08. Sea Lungs – 3:21
09. Eula – 6:47

Disc Two:
01. Green Theme – 4:22
02. Board Up the House – 4:33
03. Mtns. (The Crown & Anchor) – 4:17
04. Foolsong – 2:57
05. Collapse – 3:51
06. Psalms Alive – 4:08
07. Stretchmarker – 3:23
08. The Line Between – 5:02
09. If I Forget Thee, Lowcountry – 2:42

Initial Pressing Score: 8.5/10

Baroness (band)
Baroness

Digital review copy of this release provided by Relapse Records.