After a well-documented brush with death aboard a plunging tour bus and the subsequent line-up (and no doubt outlook on life) changes; Baroness are back with another album. This one is the ‘Purple’ record and as usual it comes with beautiful artwork and plenty of expectation too.
A lot has changed in the Baroness camp over the last few years, so we’re a little curious as to where ‘Purple’ will be heading…
Well, it all starts off with some very typical Baroness sounding rhythms and then a big rollicking riff to boot. The vocals come in with some real gravelly conviction too… A little voice in our heads had been preparing us for Baroness to come back with, let’s say, a not quite as heavy as before album. A bit more reflective…
Not so far, the grinding and pummeling displayed on opener ‘Morningstar’ gets us straight back into the Baroness mood. ‘Shock Me’ continues with the good stuff. Perhaps more anthemic than the usual but nicely stripped back to eliminate any pop music accusations; it all ends up in a pit of swirling guitars and psych-tinged electronics before a Baroness toned guitar solo brings it down again.
Baroness have been labelled as all sorts over their career, from alt-metallers to stoners; droners to to prog-folkers; it’s been an eclectic journey so far. The last album took in lots of acoustic melody compared to more ferocious outings of years gone by.
The line-up changes have maybe affected this more than natural progression, but all you can label Baroness as currently is a rock band. ‘Purple’ is just a stripped back rock record, a few of the best bits of the ‘Blue’ and ‘Yellow & Green’ albums with maybe a hint of ‘Red’ too have made it across but this is very much a fresh sounding band. There are enough of those wailing guitars and undulating rhythms to ensure this sounds very Baroness like, though.
Whilst we will probably always hold the ‘Red’ album up as the yardstick for Baroness albums, ‘Purple’ by far exceeds our expectations of Baroness circa 2015/16. They seem to be on a continual progression through their career, similar to a band like Opeth for example, they can keep on changing while also keeping the quality sky high too.
Baroness are turning into one special band indeed.