Baroness is just…… pretty awesome…..
Their high-energy, pop sensible, Appalachia rock- metal finds new ways to cut a path in even the most saturated markets. Their last record, the brilliant Yellow and Green Records earned them high praise from various outlets, landing them firmly in the spotlight, on 2012 best-of lists, and a throng of followers marching to the swampy, sludge metal.
Unfortunately shortly after the release of that record, the band was involved in a near-fatal bus accident resulting in drummer Allen Blickle, and bassist Matt Maggioni, both suffering extensive back damage, fracturing vertebrae and eventually leaving the group. Lead vocalist and guitarist, John Baizley, who almost had his arm amputated as a result of the crash, and lead guitarist Peter Adams, trudged on and with new bassist, Nick Jost, and drummer, Sebastian Thomson and created The Purple Record, a collection of metal-forward, wrenching tunes that could simultaneously hit the listener with a sledge hammer while giving them a hug. That duality was realized separately with the Yellow and Green Records, but with The Purple Record, they are combined and concise.
At 43 minutes, this is an album of songs that I still consider an album and should be listened to in chronological order from front to back to get the full effect.
The hearty “Morningstar” providing time changes that disorient the listener, but gives the record a fresh start, and it’s not unwelcomed. The second track “Shock Me” lends itself to being one of the catchier songs throughout with the listener wanting to shout the call and response together with the band. Other killers like “Try to Disappear,” “Kerosene” and “The Iron Bell” all provide lyrical landscapes of hurt, deflation, and death bringing the listener closer to the theme of the record, which could be tied back to the bus crash that would have destroyed many bands, but instead forces a conversation about the emotions one goes through during those difficult moments of finality.
Maybe the finest song on this record is “Chlorine and Wine” providing, in the title itself, the sense of those two sweet smelling liquids, their differences and similarities within the same breath. The lyrics abound with references to being on the verge of something… whether it be death, or the end of a dream, or just an emotion of both brutality and tenderness, the song marches on almost regally, reeling the verse “Please don’t lay me down” in pleading fashion much like the band members must have felt after surviving such a horrific and life-changing event.
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