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BARONESS - First cover
3.65 | 11 ratings | 3 reviews
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EP · 2004

Filed under Sludge Metal


A1. Tower Falls (07:09)
A2. Cœur (03:18)
B1. Rise (06:30)

Total Time: 16:59


- John Baizley / vocals, guitar
- Allen Blickle / drums
- Tim Loose / guitar
- Summer Welch / bass

About this release

12" vinyl EP released 3rd August 2004 on Hyperrealist Records (HR006).

Produced by Phillip Cope (Kylesa).
Artwork by John Baizley.
Recorded and mixed November 2003 at the Jam Room Studio.

Thanks to Stooge, Bosh66 for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

siLLy puPPy
BARONESS was started in Savannah, Georgia by a group of friends who grew up in Lexington, Virginia and has become one of the more recognizable sludge metal acts in recent years although the band has drifted more into stoner metal territory. Also noted for the band’s fondness of naming albums after colors, before the debut “Red Album” in 2007, BARONESS released two EPs and one split. Never one for original catchy titles, these early EPs were simply called FIRST and “Second.” The two EPs have also been released as a combo pack also unexcitingly titled “First & Second” in 2008 after the band found success with its full-length debut.

Given that the band had members with punk roots in the punk / metal band Johnny Welfare and the Paychecks, it’s no surprise that these early offerings from BARONESS are more aggressive and caustic than the more polished albums that follow. FIRST (and “Second”) are the only releases to feature the early lineup of John Baizley (vocals, guitar), Allen Blickle (drums), Tim Loose (guitar) and Summer Welch (bass.) Baizley is known not only for his caustic vocal style and jangly guitar antics but also has been the visual artist for the band’s cover art which began with this first release.

FIRST only contains three tracks that are just shy of 17 minutes but pack a serious punch with highly aggressive and raging sludge metal that already begin to display some of the band’s progressive tendencies that follow in the footsteps of other Georgian sludge metal acts like the superstar band Mastodon. It’s interesting to hear how the band evolves step-by-step from these early origins. While “Second” was already showing signs of a more polished approach, FIRST displays the band at its rawest and primeval angst with the punk infused guitar bombast on full decibelage dripping with rage. This EP was produced by Phillip Cope of Kylesa and although not as intricately designed as the band’s full-length albums is nonetheless an entertaining listen that is well performed. Recommended for those who love the filthy raw origins of sludge metal.
"First" is the debut release by US sludge metal act Baroness. Baroness was founded by former members of punk/metal act Johnny Welfare and the Paychecks in 2003. Released in 2003, "First" is an EP with a total playing time of 16:57 minutes. There are 3 tracks on the EP and it was released through Hyperrealist Records. The band was signed to Relapse Records for their 2007 debut album "Red Album" but released both "First" and "Second (2005)" (their second EP release) on a single CD through Hyperrealist Records in 2008. It´s note worthy that lead vocalist/guitarist John Baizley is responsible for the cover artwork (as well as the cover artwork on many other rock and metal releases by other artists).

The music on "First" is both sludgy, heavy and melodic. The vocals by frontman John Baizley are harsh. I´d say bands like Isis (early) and Mastodon have influenced Baroness greatly. Especially the latter mentioned band. The music is generally of a decent quality but the tracks are generally not that remarkable or catchy for that matter. Pretty solid but also pretty standard for the genre.

The musicianship are solid and the sound production is decent. There´s little to put a finger on but then again nothing here are above average in quality for the genre. So while "First" is a relatively enjoyable debut release by Baroness it´s obvious that the band still needed a bit more time to create an identity and to write some stronger compositions to make their presence count on the sludge metal scene. A 3 star (60%) rating is warranted.
A sludgy mess of an album, Baroness's First is vaguely reminiscent of early (i.e. about the same time) Mastodon, with a distinct southern drawl. The vocals are rough and harsh without ever sounding anything other than badass, the guitars are low, heavy, and play many slinky harmonized lines. Everything is tight but loose, groovy and thrashing.

The whole thing is rough, it's not always quite in time or in tune, but damned if it doesn't have more balls than anything else. One of the best examples that sometimes the best music isn't perfectly executed or polished to a lustrous shine.

In contrast to their EP Second, which by the way I feel should always be taken directly after this one, I find that First starts off with a giant bang, which carries on most of the way through, and then its weakest moments are near the end. Regardless, its lows are far better than most bands' highs.

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