Friday, 11 December 2015

Baroness - "Purple" (Album Review)

By: Philip Weller

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 18/12/2015
Label: Abraxan Hymns



Baroness have never written an album like this before and they probably never will. Fate threw them an experience that shook them to their core. It saw half the band leave, but what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and here the band are channelling all the drama and the turmoil to concoct an album that is beyond special. The ambition, complexity and painstakingly triumphant melodies that drape this record like an emperor’s clothes has made them near enough invincible.

“Purple” CD//DD//LP track listing:
1). Morningstar
2). Shock Me
3). Try to Disappear
4). Kerosene
5). Fugue
6). Chlorine & Wine
7). The Iron Bell
8). Desperation Burns
9). If I Have to Wake Up (Would You Stop The Rain)
10). Crossroad of Infinity

The Review:  
"There is no dignity in wickedness, whether in purple or rags; and hell is a democracy of devils, where all are equals." - Herman Melville

When true inspiration strikes, you don’t just hear it, you feel it. It scintillates something inside you, makes your heart beat faster, dilates your pupils and makes you smile like a loon. From start to finish, Baroness’ fourth album, ‘Purple’, does exactly that.
Much has been and will continue to be said of both their 2012 tour bus crash and their dynamic shift on ‘Yellow & Green’. The crash nearly killed the band both in terms of taking the members’ lives and splitting the band up and indeed many were unhappy with ‘’Yellow & Green’s’ more laid back, lucid experimentalism. But such experimenting, welded onto the more direct heaviness of ‘Blue’, defines ‘Purple’ as both their most ambitious and foreword thinking, their most musically complex and compelling record as well as one which goes for the jugular like the earlier records did so extravagantly.
The band have reconvened with a new drummer in Sebastian Thomson, a man capable of making mountains crumble with his forthright tub thumping and bassist/keyboardist Nick Jost whose multi-instrumentalism has added further momentum to the musical adventurism of John Baizley and Pete Adams. Together, there is something that sizzles in the record’s atmosphere, bringing the best out of each other magnificently.
Moments like the opening one-two of ‘Morningstar’ and ‘Shock Me’ see Baizley and Adams pushing their capabilities to the limits, crazy harmonies adding grace and class to gorgeous yet stabbing chord progressions. Vocally too, the band unleash so many melodious, infectious refrains throughout that it almost hurts. ‘Kerosene’, bustling with energy, is bathed in soaring, evocative melodies and trademark Baroness riff work which sounds simply enormous. Avalanching drum fills and crunching bass lines only add to the pomp and bombast, the entire delivery breath-taking. 
The ambition, brightness and overriding gloriousness of ‘Purple’ is inspiring. It feels like every little second of music has been slaved over, given the utmost attention to detail to make the record as a whole as flavoursome as possible. Take softer moments like ‘Fugue’, which on the surface comes across as a simplistic instrumental interlude, characterised by the warming guitar harmonies at the end, is finely nuanced and crafted to perfection. Repeat listens bear more rewards, more nuggets to appreciate and admire.
The pain and the passion of ‘Chlorine and Wine’ hones a perfect chunk of progressive song writing. What starts whimpering and wounded concludes standing tall, proud and powerful, Baizley’s deft lyricisms whisking you along for the ride. ‘The Iron Bell’, driven by another clinical performance from Thomson, blends a punk rock rapture with Thin Lizzy sensibilities and prog rock theatrics which takes the song down so many avenues in such a short space of time it’s staggering. But of course, we’ve come to expect that from the band, with ‘Red’ especially which was an album full of structural mazes that didn’t really make sense but played out so convincingly. And although people will dismiss the album as having no relation to ‘Red’ due to the lack of growled vocals etc., that record’s spirit of wanderlust and originality lives on as the winding textures of ‘Purple’ unravel.
The consistency of the album too is overwhelming. Not one song is worth skipping, each pull so many punches and in so many different ways. ‘Desperation Burns’, packs savage, incendiary motifs, Jost’s keyboards adding a whole new dimension and mysticism to the grazing guitar work while the threadbare emotions of ‘If I Wake Up (Would You Stop The Rain)’ reflect a band still wounded by that crash. But together they have found strength in unity that, even with their feelings bared so nakedly as they are here, makes them seem unstoppable.
Baroness have never written an album like this before and they probably never will. Fate threw them an experience that shook them to their core. It saw half the band leave, but what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and here the band are channelling all the drama and the turmoil to concoct an album that is beyond special. The ambition, complexity and painstakingly triumphant melodies that drape this record like an emperor’s clothes has made them near enough invincible.

“Purple” is available here

Band info: official |facebook | bandcamp

1 comment:

Ida Alina said...

Duuuude. This is the first review of the album I've seen! This is my most anticipated album of this year without a doubt.
Thanks for writin!