Album Review: Baroness - 'Yellow & Green'

9 July 2012 | 7:07 pm | Staff Writer
Originally Appeared In

Interesting, fantastic or hollow? It's up to the listener to decide.

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So where do Baroness go now that they're running out of primary colours to label their studio albums? While it matters little in the overall scheme, these Georgia metallers are your no-frills, cut through the bullshit type of band and for that we love 'em.

Third studio album (and double album in this specific case) 'Yellow & Green' is an absorbing and extended listen. 18 songs can be overwhelming, but it can also be heartening for fans of this sound. If advertised in retail shopfronts it would have that cliched '2 for the price of 1' tag signposted prominently.

Beginning with the nine tracks that make up 'Yellow', the first thing that strikes you is that this offering is interesting if nothing else. And in many respects this may polarise listeners. 'Take My Bones Away' and 'March to the Sea' are a little more accessible and linear and may cop ire. But you know what, they work and are enjoyable, so no harm done. The latter song has a sweet, soothing riff that draws influence with Cave-In.

'Yellow' gravitates towards the hard-rock genre and perhaps stadium tours with the likes of Metallica have changed the way Baroness choose to deliver in song construction. 'Little Things' is hit and miss and 'Twinkler' follows with a brooding melancholy that steers away from the sludge metal genre. 'Cocainium' is more psychedelic, while 'Sea Lungs' picks up the tempo.

Act II (or 'Green Theme') is probably not the contrast you might expect. 'Board Up the House' and 'Mtns. (The Crown & Anchor)' feel like we've been transported back to the 70's where arena rock and prog rock merged. The nine tracks that make up 'Green' seem a lot more darker in tone and execution. 'Psalms Alive' has an engaging groove and gets the metronome ticking.

This double album is bold, brave and sincere. But it's the lack of elements that got the band to this point that makes the release feel a little unsatisfactory. It's brilliant and highly respectable for what it is, however, it doesn't have that trademark Baroness drive. If 'Yellow & Green' was created under an anonymous pseudonym we'd probably laud this as innovative and well-received. It detracts just a little too far in this instance though. It's not a bad thing, it just interrupts the overall reception.

You probably need to separate the listens and isolate them as individual albums, instead of a double full-length. Otherwise, this release gets a little drawn-out. 'Yellow & Green' is a departure in sound, but probably a better way of putting it, is an evolution in style. It's music that's designed to transcend not smack you across the ears.

Put simply, if you you want variation and a slight change of pace 'Yellow & Green' is a fantastic listen. If you want a fast-paced, downtrodden sludgy full-length then you might feel studio album three is slightly lacklustre. This is impressive musicianship, just not the type of sound you'd initially expect from Baroness.

Disc 1:
1. Yellow Theme
2. Take My Bones Away
3. March to the Sea
4. Little Things
5. Twinkler
6. Cocainium
7. Back Where I Belong
8. Sea Lungs
9. Eula

Disc 2:
1. Green Theme
2. Board Up the House
3. Mtns. (The Crown & Anchor)
4. Foolsong
5. Collapse
6. Psalms Alive
7. Stretchmarker
8. The Line Between
9. If I Forget Thee, Lowcountry