Baroness – Yellow & Green

By Raymond Westland

Releasing a double album is arguably the biggest commercial nightmare for every record label out there. They are costly to make and even a bigger headache when it comes down to promotional side of things. Luckily, Relapse Records is a label with a high regard for artistic merit and vision. They prove this yet again with the release of the latest musical venture by sludge/progressive rock/metal outfit Baroness, entitled Yellow & Green.

In line with the two previous albums the Baroness gents decided to stick with the ongoing colour theme with their current effort, called Yellow & Green. It’s a double disc effort consisting of two separate albums, which are thematically and musically linked together. For listeners who are hoping for a total over-the-top progfest I have disappointing news, because most of the tracks are fairly straightforward in nature. Baroness do stretch their musical boundaries on this particular release, but it never gets in the way of a good song. In a way Yellow & Green is comparable to Mastodon’s The Hunter and Crack The Skye put together in a single musical frame, but without technical edge or the complexity of the latter.

Musically Yellow & Green has more in common with the free spirited nature of Led Zeppelin and the psychedelic dabbles of Pink Floyd, than with the sludgy swagger of fellow Savannah-based outfits Black Tusk and Kylesa. If anything, Yellow & Green is very much a southern/desert rock release with some lovely proggy tendencies. The most impressive feat is the overall cohesiveness, despite the staggering array of different styles and moods captured on this double disc effort. It ranges from straight up rockers (“Take My Bones Away”, “Board Up The House”), forays into the psychedelic realms (“March To The Sea”, “Cocanium”, “Foolsong”), to even a shamanistic chant under the guise of “Twinkler”. Such is the diversity and musical richness Yellow & Green has to offer and I am barely scratching the surface here.

However, I’m kind of on the fence about the choices Baizley and Co made sound-wise. The organic production by John Congleton gives Yellow & Green a definite vintage feel and there’s a lot to say for that, certainly from an artistic perspective. On the other hand, the guitars get drowned in reverb and fuzz, taking a lot of the potential power and edge away from the more guitar-driven tracks. A matter of taste I guess.

Yellow & Green by Baroness is arguably one of the richest and most diverse albums you are going to hear this year. It is certainly the most ambitious musical undertaking by Baizley and Co yet, but they manage to pull it off without a hitch. Production-wise it is a little too retro for my taste, but otherwise this is a fantastic musical adventure. I’m hooked!

(Relapse)

Yellow & Green will be released on 17 July 2012

Want a sneak peak at Yellow & Green? Listen to it in its entirety online here

Sean Palmerston

Sean is the founder/publisher of Hellbound.ca; he has also written about metal for Exclaim!, Metal Maniacs, Roadburn, Unrestrained! and Vice.