When investigating a particular band or genre of music, you often, understandably, see other bands names mentioned that either share similarities to the band in question or fit into the particular genre. While investigating bands such as Mastodon, Kylesa, Pelican and various bands on the Hydra Head record label, I had seen the name Baroness mentioned frequently but for some reason never got around to checking them out.
On a coincidental note, Kvelertak’s great self titled debut had artwork that everyone raved about (see here) and I actually put a link to the artist’s web page without knowing who he was. So imagine my surprise (go on, imagine it! It was a bit like this :shock:) when I realised that not only did Baroness seem to share the same artwork, but the artist, John Dyer Baizley, is actually their lead vocalist!!
Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself, before I made the artwork connection I had taken note of the band name and filed it in the “listen later” pigeonhole in my head, and this pigeonhole being crammed to the gunnels with various other bands to investigate I promptly forgot. A combination of a post on Monkey Defies Gravity (here) and spotting the vinyl copy of “Blue Record” in Crash Records in Leeds last week brought the name back to the top of the pile!
With remarkable restraint (for me) I managed to stop myself buying the vinyl just because it was a limited colour vinyl edition (I LOVE coloured vinyl!) until I had at least heard a bit more of their music! I had heard the one track that was posted on Kuz’s site above and thought it sounded pretty good, but not enough to persuade me to part with £18. So home I went, made a cup of tea, started up Spotify and pressed play on “Blue Record“. I got two tracks in when I thought, “shit, should have bought that vinyl, this is tremendous!”
So much so in fact that I did something I don’t think I’ve ever done, and, I would imagine, is not done much at all these days. I telephoned Crash and asked them to put it aside for me until I could get back down the next day and pick it up!
I was reminded of the old 1983 JR Hartley Yellow Pages advert, definitely not the new one, I mean, Day V. Lately? Fuck off! Also, while we’re on the subject, what town does this bugger live in where there are upwards of six quality looking record shops? I live in Leeds, quite a cosmopolitan city these days and they have a grand total of two independent shops whose selection of vinyl is small to say the least! And to compound this unrealistic idiocy, when said forty-something dejectedly returns home, as in the old ad, his daughter sympathetically directs him towards Yellow Pages (this time as an app on her iphone) and lo and behold when he rings the apparent first number, they of course have his old unknown “trance anthem”. So he lives in some utopian record mecca, his daughter has an iphone, but he clearly doesn’t have a computer, because surely the FIRST thing he would have done (before he even resorted to going out) would be fire up the internet and search on there first! In fact, why didn’t he just use his daughter’s iPhone?? Clearly Yellow Pages (or Yell! as they now call themselves) wanted to bring a ‘classic’ advert up to date, but they seem to have completely forgotten/ignored today’s other ubiquitous technology aside from the old dog and bone!
Sorry, I digress, what were we talking about? Oh yes, Baroness!
The next morning I legged it into town to grab the record. I must say, I could get back into this buying vinyl thing, I’d forgotten just how much more satisfying flicking through shelves of vinyl and carrying your purchase(s) back in a big heavy (well heavier than CDs) carrier bag. This is potentially financially dangerous, it’s already got me thinking about upgrading my tatty old Technics turntable for something better (this is frontrunner at the moment)!
But can you blame me when they look as nice as this, I mean look at its colourful vinyl goodness!
Now I have listened to the album I’m surprised it’s double vinyl as the version on Spotify is only 44 minutes long (I’m afraid the above vinyl is not going to get played on my old Technics just to find out!), I’m planning on getting the full thing off emusic later in the month.
I have now listened to both full length albums, the aforementioned “Blue Record” and their debut “The Red Album” and I am keen to check out their original EPs “First” and “Second”, (they really push the boat out with original titles don’t they?!) but these are not on Spotify or emusic so will have to keep an eye out for the physical versions, but going by the video for “Rise” off their “First ” EP the sound is far sludgier and heavy than on either full length album.
On their full length albums they have a very similar guitar sound to Mastodon but are not quite as heavy, they are closer to “Crack The Skye” rather than “Leviathan” era Mastodon, put it that way (which of course will only make sense if you’ve heard most of Mastodon’s records, d’oh! Oh well if you haven’t, sort it out they’re on Spotify, you’ve got ears! :)). Vocals tend to vary between clean and roared, but are not particularly harsh. Another recent comparison could be made with last year’s album by Mose Giganticus, “Gift Horse” which got christened “Mastodon with synths”!
Well there we have it, another great band joins the ludicrously long roster of bands appearing in my personal fantasy festival, which I think at this rate would last at least a month!
Check out both full length Baroness albums on Spotify, and check out a couple of videos below;
A Horse Called Golgotha
Swollen and Halo
#1 by Kuz on March 9, 2011 - 3:07 pm
Nice post! I bloody love Baroness and in fact have the Blue Record blasting away as I type! I’ve listened to their records over and over and still find new details to fall in love with. I really don’t get the Mastodon comparisons though (which are common) – I just don’t hear it.
#2 by Rich on March 9, 2011 - 6:46 pm
Thanks mate, thought you might comment on this 😉 I went through both albums while writing!
Really? I’m quite surprised, mind you I definitely don’t think they sound like any of Mastodon’s albums except Crack The Skye, I’ve just compared “Wanderlust” with “Ghost of Karelia” and I definitely see clear similarities, but there you go, comparisons are a bit lazy anyway I really ought to try and describe the sound a bit better instead. And as I alluded to in the post comparisons only work if the reader has heard the artist you’re comparing them to! 🙂
#3 by atleastimhousebroken on March 9, 2011 - 7:36 pm
Baroness is a great. I found out about them more or less in the same manner as you, digging around for artist similar to Pelican and Isis. That’s when I came across The Red Album and it threw my jaw to the ground. And as with any great record there’s always something to discover with each listen. Good read dude. And that’s some nice looking vinyl!!
#4 by Kuz on March 10, 2011 - 8:34 pm
@Rich I can’t resist anything Baroness-related! While I’ve spent some time with Remission (and finally started to quite enjoy it), and dabbled in the others – I’ve never listened to Crack The Skye, as until recently I just didn’t “get” Mastodon. I’m still sidling around the edges of their body of work to be honest.
I’ll have to fire up CTS on Spotify tomorrow. Interesting that many people accuse Baroness of ripping off Mastodon’s sound when Red predated CTS by two years! It’s also interesting how many of the online metal community dismiss Baroness as “hipster metal”, bizarre really.
Wanderlust is probably my favourite off Red, so I’ll listen to Ghost of Karelia with anticipation! Lovely looking vinyl by the way.
Right, I definitely need to do my own post on Baroness now…
#5 by cineleeds on March 11, 2011 - 7:11 pm
Love the J.R. Hartley deconstruction!