Album Review: Yellow and Green by Baroness

Sitting here writing this review up and listening to the new Baroness double L.P. Yellow and Green for the umpteenth time I find myself amazed that I am still awed and staggered by the pure majesty of this album.  In 75 minutes the Savannah, GA band have presented some of the best music I’ve heard in years.  While the bands roots lay in a bog of sludgy prog metal they really stepped up their game for this release and moved out of the murky, metallic waters they have gotten to know so well.  With nothing against their previous material, I find the softer, more rock focused, and even more experimental side of Baroness heard on this record to be much more honest to the bands sound.  Not having to pigeonhole themselves as a ‘metal’ band has allowed the members to really go out and explore all the aspects of the music they write leading to injections of post-rock, Americana, alt-rock, and folk music peppering their music all with a heavy hard rock/metal-ish base.

Each disk on this release has a different flavor of the band that is quite wonderful on its own.  When combined together make a wonderfully cohesive work, kind of like peanut butter and chocolate.  The first disk of the 2, Yellow, is the more rock orientated album and is the most similar to the sound Baroness established on their previous pair of albums.  After a great intro with “Yellow Theme” you can hear immediately that the band upped the production on this album with the tones and recording sounding altogether cleaner.  The albums lead single, “Take My Bones Away”, then kicks the rest of the record off with a bang introducing the heavy rock and roll sound they fully embrace for the rest of Yellow.  John Baizly’s vocals have taken a noticeable and immediate improvement as he is able to create an altogether cleaner voice while maintaining the trademark gruff rawness that we’ve heard from him in the past.  The hooks and melodies are also much brighter and tighter this time around as both the refrain and chorus, and musical sections of the song are so damn catchy.  The drumming by Allen Blickle is also top-notch as he really adds great beats to the songs keeping everything nice and smooth and at the same time, also embracing the experimentation of the record taking his drumming in many different directions, sometimes within the same song.

While this disk is quite rock and roll influenced, there are some deviations from that formula.  You will hear some great American folk music on the wispy and dreamlike song “Twinkler”.  On “Eula” (End User License Agreement?  Anyone have any clarification on the naming there?) there are heavy influences of post-rock as the song just builds and builds leading the glorious release, which straight up gave my whole body the shivers.  One of my favorite track off this disk is “Cocainium” which starts off as this Pink Floyd-ish psychadelic atmosphere song and slowly transforms into a neat and mellow prog rock song as it progresses into one of the most ‘metal’ parts on the whole disk.  Stuff like this really shows how strong of songwriters the band is, being able to tackle so many different styles in a single song without creating a jarring moment or losing an ounce of fluidity.

If Yellow were to be released on its own, it is a strong enough disk to satisfy me for quite some time until Baroness release their followup album.  Luckily there is yet another whole album included in the package.  The second part of this release is Green and it boasts the more mellow, transcendental songs of the album making that point immediately with the beautiful intro, “Green Theme”.  Well, I guess not exactly immediately, because the ‘first song’ on the Green is a great sludgy, bluesy number called “Board Up the House” (and don’t tell me I was the only one who thought of the “hide yo kids, hide yo wife” Youtube video when hearing the lyrics to this song).  “MTNS. (The Crown & Anchor)” mellow things out some with folky and Americana guitar work and soothing vocal lines paired with some great lyrics.  “Foolsong” and “Collapse” keep the chill atmosphere rolling adding elements post-rock.  Things get really interesting with “Psalms Alive” as the feel of the previous handful of tracks bleed into the quirky sounding opening section of the tune before it all of a suddenly explodes into heavy and atmospheric guitar driven rock complete with some great trill work and awesome and soulful soloing.

“Strechmarker” is a great instrumental track with nice country/American guitar work and has such a soothing feel to it.  I absolutely love this tune and it adds such a great flow to the entirety of the disk.  After that little moment of relaxation and reflection Baroness pick the energy up a bit for the rocking song, “The Line Between”.  And closing out Green is “If I Forget Thee, Lowcountry”  where the band leaves things off on a soothing note and an experience to remember and revisit many times over.

Again, if Yellow were to be released on its own I’d be quite satisfied with the bands out put and change in direction.  But, when you listen to both these records side by side they really become whole.  The compliment and contrast each other perfectly and I can’t think of the album being released in any other way.  This had to be a pretty big risk for the band, following new directions and possibly alienating some established fans.  But as I said, this is just a more honest album and I feel it reflects the feelings and emotions of the artists stronger at this point in their lives/careers.  I implore you to go out and listen to this masterwork.  Yellow and Green is a stagger achievement on Baroness’ part and should be heard and appreciated by all, regardless of preferred musical genre.

Here’s the full album for you listening pleasure if you enjoyed the sample tracks.  Enjoy!

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About RiffRaff

Just takin' it easy for all you sinners.

Posted on 2012-07-25, in Album Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Another band i have not heard of until now. Not sure why, but when I picked this album up I wasn’t expecting much. I have been listening to it daily since I bought it. It sounds like a bit of a departure from their standard formula over the years…despite this, i am still interested in hearing their older material. Great post; this definitely has end of year best of 2012 potential. In fact, it might be a done deal depending on what comes out between now and 31 Dec.

  2. I am forever thankful for this album-stream, this is a definite buy for me. Such a nice surprise, way over my expectations!

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