BARONESS — First (review)

BARONESS — First album cover EP · 2004 · Sludge Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
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.
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