Baroness The Red Album

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Styles: stoner rock, metal
Others: Black Sabbath, Desert Sessions, Mastodon, Isis, Pelican

It’s been a pretty wild ride for this Savannah sludge quartet over the past few years. Having formed in the summer of ’03 around the Bickle brothers -- Allen on drums and Brian on guitar -- with bassist Summer Welsh and lead singer/guitarist John Baizley, they’ve released a couple indie EPs and toured America and Europe at least twice over on the back of their perpetually flowering underground following. That, combined with a well-received split EP on At A Loss Recordings, caught the attention of Relapse (famous for Dillinger Escape Plan and Don Caballero, but infamous for many others), who tested the power of that immense anticipation by backing the release of their debut full-length, The Red Album, tic-tac-toe. And, believe me, things are just getting started for these Georgians.

The Red Album is instantly one of the most satisfying rock albums I’ve heard since the Brian Jonestown Massacre went stale in the stingy limelight. One moment you’re enjoying a lovely piece of understated but highly dextrous acoustic Southern rock (“Wanderlust”) and the next you’re bludgeoned by mad bong-blasting stoner metal (“Grad”), at times sweetly soothed and others gruffly growled at by Baizley. What makes this LP truly remarkable is the amazing restraint and maturity demonstrated within it. The urge tends toward rocking an audience as hard as you can with a debut, but the resolve of the slow-building “Adelph” and the almost slide guitar intro to “O’Appalachia” are precisely the moments where Baroness crosses the threshold from mere rawk fuzz goodness to true artistic satisfaction. Less is more, and the fact that these guys already have that down is scary when one imagines them a few albums down the road. I’m not even a big metal fan, but I’m going to buy every album these guys come out with until I'm convinced otherwise.

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