No. 4: Royally screwed
By Bryan Reed
I feel bad for any number of
bands and labels who thought, months ago, that October 13, 2009, would be the
best day to release their new record. I feel bad, even for the good records.
Among them: Skeletonwitch‘s Breathe the Fire, a riotously fun blend
of black metal, death metal and NWOBHM;
Marduk‘s Wormwood, another solid entry from the Polish black metal titans;
reissues from the UK’s Bolt
Thrower and France’s Gojira;
the latest psych-rock excursion from ex-Yeah Yeah Yeahs sideman Imaad Wasif; and Grond, the second entry in an alleged trilogy from the mysterious
and brutal black metal outfit Nihill.
They all lose. They got
Baroness also thought October
13, 2009 would be the best day to release its new album, Blue Record (Relapse) and it’s absolutely untouchable.
You remember Baroness, of
course, for 2007’s Red Album, a
startlingly diverse collection that rampages through acoustic blues and
backwoods folk, prog, psych rock and sludgy Southern metal. Blue Record is not so much a departure
as a continuation and a refinement, as though the whole purpose was for
Baroness to render its excellent predecessor obsolete with superior quality on
all fronts. The metal parts are heavier, when the riffs gallop it’s like the
Apocalypse is coming and it’s the best thing ever. The melodies are more
intricate, more reliant on the instrumentalists’ interplay and counterpart than
ever before. Guitar harmonies worthy of Iron Maiden flicker like gemstones
underfoot. You’ll hear moments of everything that’s ever been great about heavy
rock, metal or otherwise – noise, psychedelic rock, even indie rock. It’s all
represented, and all seamlessly woven into Baroness’ masterpiece.
It’s almost reductive to try to
describe or critique this record, when saying it’s essential should about cover
Also in rotation: This time, just Baroness.
Bryan Reed is from
North Carolina and, despite his best efforts, he still hasn’t grown out of the
racket that irritated his friends and family in high school, and continues to
irritate them in the present. Stalker-types should know that they can follow Bryan on Twitter