BARONESS — Red Album (review)

BARONESS — Red Album album cover Album · 2007 · Sludge Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
"Red Album" is the debut full-length studio album by US, Georgia based sludge/heavy metal act Baroness. The album was released through Relapse Records in September 2007. Baroness was formed in 2003 and released a demo, two EPs, and two splits, before releasing the "Red Album". So at this point Baroness had already honed their playing skills and songwriting craft for quite a few years and on quite a few releases.

Stylistically the music on the album is progressive sludge/heavy metal featuring both clean, raw, and shouting vocals. Mostly lead vocalist/guitarist John Dyer Baizley shouts in key. There are a lot of southern, blues, and roots elements in the music, which is very guitar driven, and the two guitarists generally compliment each other well and there is some pretty intricate guitar work throughout the album. The rhythm section is also quite impressive and especially drummer Allen Blickle has quite the adventurous playing style. It´s dynamic music which can be both slow building and mellow, but also more hard edged and aggressive.

"Red Album" features a powerful, organic, and very well sounding production, which brings out the best in the material. Said material is quite creative and it´s often hard to know where a song is going to end as the tracks don´t always follow regular vers/chorus structures. It´s quite progressive in that way, and Baroness deserve all the praise in the world for their innovative songwriting approach. When that is said, the vocal melodies are seldom that memorable, and the vocals sometimes feel like an afterthought. It´s also remarkable when thinking of how adventurous and interesting the material generally is, how few actual "songs" there are on the album. It´s a lot of creative ideas and skillful playing, but very little sticks when the album is over.

So "Red Album" leaves me a little biased as unconventional and adventurous songwriting usually makes my blood boil (and to a certain degree also does here), but there still has to be some catchy moments featured, that you remember after the album has finished playing, and there simply aren´t enough of those on this album. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.
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