Yellow And Green
Relapse; 2012Trying to figure out where Baroness fit in on the metal scale has become increasingly difficult. At the same time it's becoming increasingly uninteresting. During the Savannah quartet’s decade long career they’ve continued to evolve and grow, aging with grace. They’ve crafted their own special brand of sludge metal, always managing to be a little more progressive than their fellow Southern doom peers.
On their new album, the majestic double album-affair, Yellow & Green, Baroness continue to explore the different ways for a hardcore band to grow up in style. This time they have taken a distinctive step away from thick-skinned Southern sludge and readjusted their work strategy quite dramatically. Gone are the raw vocals and the muscular distortion-reliant sound. On this album they’re not interested in making the windows tremble with aggressive guitars and screamed vocals. While their sound continues to slither through the wastewater of sluggish metal burrows they’ve focused more on songwriting this time around.
The first part of Yellow contains traces of the athletic and burly sound that Baroness is famous for. Songs like “Take My Bones Away” and “March to the Sea” are a testament to that past. However, it’s when the “Twinkler” begins that the new, more inward-looking Baroness starts to surface. You can almost feel the suns’ rays and smell the crisp autumn air as Twinkler slowly unfolds before you. The feeling stays with you and becomes even more tangible on Yellow’s symphonic closing track “Eula”. With its melancholy acoustics and hazy atmosphere it is a ceremonial ending that oozes with harmony and longing until it vaporizes.
Green, the second disc, is the reserved side of Baroness. The album is itself a cavalcade of eerie arrangements, compositions crafted with attention to detail and form. On Green Baroness patiently explore the textures of their sound like on “Collapse” and ease into a slowed down groove on tracks like “Board Up the House” and “Foolsong”. The sound becomes increasingly fluid and post-rock soundscapes dominate the larger part of the album, especially on instrumental tracks “Stretchmarker”, “Green Theme” and album closer “If I Forget Thee, Lowcountry”
Yellow & Green is a 75-minute long, eloquent balancing of heavier moments with new-found sensibility for self-expression. This is not, however, a matter of hard versus soft or staying metal versus losing your edge. Baroness are more complex than that. Baroness have embraced the contrasts in their music and created a nuanced, dynamic and innovative rock album. Just as the instantly recognizable cover art of singer John Dyer Baizley, Yellow & Green is similarly captivating because of its grandiose aesthetics as well as each, intricate detail.