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3.75 | 12 ratings | 3 reviews
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Album · 2015

Filed under Stoner Metal


1. Morning Star (04:16)
2. Shock Me (04:17)
3. Try To Disappear (04:52)
4. Kerosene (05:10)
5. Fugue (02:34)
6. Chlorine And Wine (06:49)
7. The Iron Bell (04:24)
8. Desperation Burns (04:44)
9. If I Have To Wake Up (Would You Stop The Rain) (0:41)
10. Crossroads Of Infinity (00:16)

Total Time 42:33


- John Baizley / guitars, vocals
- Sebastian Thompson / drums
- Nick Jost / bass, keyboards
- Peter Adams / lead guitar, vocals

About this release

CD and 12" vinyl LP released 18th December 2015 on Abraxan Hymns (ABXN-001).

Produced, recorded, engineered and mastered at Tarbox Road Studios in Cassadega, NY, USA in winter 2015.
Additional recording at IQL Studios in Philadelphia, PA, USA.
Mastered at Sterling Sound in New York, NY, USA.

An official music video was made for the song Chlorine & Wine.

Thanks to Nightfly for the addition and adg211288, Bosh66, TheHeavyMetalCat for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

I came across Baroness a few years back when I read about sludge metal and wondered how that sounded. I bought Baroness's "Red Album" and found it rather impressive, powerful music with a progressive edge in places. I knew I'd get another album and actually kept "Yellow and Green" on standby at Amazon for over two years. Then "Purple" was released and I figured why not just get the latest album.

It most certainly is the Baroness sound that rumbles and booms through the opening riff of "Morningstar". The song switches to a melodic heavy power rock tune that strikes me as consistent with my impression that "Yellow and Green" was leaning more towards melodic over raw bellowing vocals. The song wraps up by reprising that awesome opening riff, which would fit perfectly on a Mastodon album.

Track two "Shock Me" begins with some simple and soft keyboards. Where's Baroness going to take this? Of course we get another strong power melody rocker but with an impressive more technical instrumental mid-section which is followed by a melodic bit of lead guitar. A strong track for sure.

"I will bury your bones inside my garden / Underneath, your eyes can't burn through me no more." Is this Danzig? "Try to Disappear" carries the banner of a song with the guitars pushed to the red and busy drumming that seems to abhor a steady beat without anything in between and half sung half bellowed vocals intent on insisting that there's a melody here. The guitar work is different, separating track three from two and from one. But the musical theme is becoming apparent. This is Baroness's "Purple" album. Heavy melodic punk/post metal?

Though I do begin to lose interest once a musical theme sets in and becomes the sole atmospheric element of an album's sonic palette, the next three tracks snap my interest back. Granted, "Kerosene" follows the same style as we've heard so far, but the loud simple bass in the chorus and another interesting instrumental break have my attention. Then "Fugue" goes somewhere else completely and reminds me of one of the reasons I liked Baroness at first, which was their ability to break a continuing musical theme with an instrumental that offers something different. The change in flavour is continued during the intro to "Chlorine and Wine". Though this simple, slow and haunting melodic music style, complete with scratchy echoes, seems to be common today, one can't help but wonder where Baroness will take it. Of course, we find ourselves back in familiar "Purple" territory, but the slow journey back is pleasing. One ear-catching line: "I've never felt so uncomfortably numb." Another thing to point out is that so far all the lead guitar work has been melodic rather than technical or ultra-aggressive. This song wraps up with a crescendo of power melody.

"Iron Bell" is another rollicking and rolling power rock melodic song. Quite good and making it difficult to say which of all these songs is the best. "Desperation Burns" gives us another heavy riff, a welcome return to the into-the-red heavy distortion. Melody is still a factor but heaviness is emphasized, especially in the instrumental break.

The final song, "If I Have to Wake Up (Would You Stop the Rain)", takes the tempo down for a kind of heavy sludge ballad. Perhaps the song to least impress me but nevertheless a good idea at least for variety. This song is followed by a brief robotic voice speaking for the final track.

I've given this album a fair bit of praise and mentioned several favourable points. Honestly, it is while attention is focused on the music for this review that I sniffed out what I like about the album. However, after the first three or four listens I had a tough time saying what songs I liked or why. This album is easy to have on the car stereo while driving or in the air buds while commuting because the overall approach is as I've described: a kind of loud power rock with bellowed vocal melodies. It's quite a step from "The Red Album" and for that I think it's great that Baroness are approaching each "colour" with a different flavour. They are evolving their style while still sounding like Baroness. I find that I enjoy the rawness of "The Red Album" more, on which the post metal/sludge/progressive/technical elements stood out more. But even though I prefer the other album, I give the band credit for producing a cohesive and solid piece of work here. But I'll add that it was a good idea to keep it to 42 minutes. A sixty-minute album of similar songs would be too much.
They only brought their shield...

Even though there's some charm to the claim that Purple is in fact a blend of the first two Baroness releases - Red Album and Blue Record - there's not much truth to it in terms of how the album actually sounds. Not gonna argue about the way colors blend, but sound-wise, Purple is first and foremost a step forth from Yellow & Green, a step towards accessibility.

And yet, some elements of the old Baroness sound have remained largely untouched - quite distinctive, shouted although less aggressive, hardcore vocals and pounding rhythmic sludge riffs to name just two. It has never been a very niche band to begin with but they had enough personality going for them - especially their baroque pop sensibilities - to stand out from the post metal crowd. What's always made them somewhat unique, was their ability to mix the American punk background with strong interest for art-rock and adventurous, post metal experiments. Often reminiscent of Mastodon - here more than ever before - Baroness has always been different enough to avoid unflattering remarks in regards to their artistic identity.

Purple is a very focused post-metal record, way more focused than its predecessor, and therefore it has never overstayed its welcome. Still, the streamlined nature of the album exposes the band's leanings towards skillful, yet often banal, songwriting. While by no means deprived of charm and creativity, Purple feels shallow and definitely more suited for a brief love affair than a long-lasting relationship.
After two great sludgy and slightly proggy bruisers in the form of Red Album and Blue Record, Baroness pulled a dramatic change of direction with their third full-length record, the double album Yellow & Green. That album was pretty much a masterpiece which really expanded the band’s possibilities, even if it was in a way more commercial and less heavy.

With their fourth album, Purple, the swampy southern band tries to bridge the two worlds, taking the more obvious singles from each of their eras, mixing them together, and using the mixture as the template for an album worth of banging, interesting, well-crafted rock music. It’s a bit less Radiohead than Green but its also a bit less Mastodon than Blue Record.

The direction is one thing; the quality is what’s important. There’s no questions on the quality front whatsoever. You might not like the lack of heaviness or the lack of prog, but you cannot disagree that this is one well-made collection of tunes. The musicianship is great, the production is great, the vocals are getting better, and the songs are memorable. Month’s after my first listen I still find myself humming the likes of ‘Kerosene’ and ‘The Iron Bell,’ I still find my thumbs rushing to chose ‘Shock Me’ when I’m deciding what to listen to for my walk to work.

There’s just a nice balance between variety and consistency, there are fast and slow moments, periods of quick fury and periods of slow somber reflection, but it all feels like one cohesive whole. An album where you could swap the track order around and still get the same journey.

This has far more musical DNA in common with Once More Round The Sun than for example, Through Silver In Blood, so the heavy heavy sludge crowd may still find it off putting, but for the rest of us who just like a good time, this is one very enjoyable selection of gnarly Rock singles that’s guaranteed to put a smile on your face. Red Fang fans will find a lot to enjoy here.

Overall; great songs, get it if you aren’t a heaviness-snob.

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