Baroness - Purple
Abraxan Hymns
Alternative Progressive Rock
10 songs (42' 33")
Release year: 2015
Reviewed by Andy

With Yellow & Green, Baroness appeared to signal that they were pulling away from their earlier sludge metal roots and moving further towards alternative rock. This move continues on 2015's Purple, but never fear; the metal runs deep in this band and the songs are still satisfyingly chunky, even as the band adds more intricacy and more non-metal influences.

The original distorted vocals are mostly gone, but John Baizley's clean vocals are somewhat grittier and hoarser than they were on Yellow & Green, and there's a sense that amid the band's increasing progressivism, they're still willing to throw their metalhead listeners a bone with riff-driven beasts like Morningstar, which adheres more to their sludgy, Mastodon-like early sound. But melodic pieces like Try to Disappear, which has a similar sound to March to the Sea from the previous album and whose sound reminded me of a rougher, more American Amorphis in places, take the listener out into somewhat less familiar territory. The production is noisy, with the vocals chorusing hollowly with the drums most of the time, which are woven expertly through every track. Just when you have your head around the sound, though, it engages in a new experiment -- one of my favorites, Fugue, switches to an instrumental with a lounging, R&B-style sound complete with funky little wah-wah guitar accents and soft keyboard, but with a harmonized guitar solo in the middle -- really cool.

Less rambling than Yellow & Green, Purple still shows a decreasing interest by the band in the more familiar metal sound Baroness started with, and given how controversial the preceding album was among certain reviewers, this one may come in for a certain degree of hate among metalheads who view a band's sonic expansions with suspicion. The hardest for me to come to terms with are the more introspective types of songs like Shock Me or Chlorine & Wine. It's not like those tracks don't have aggression or loudness -- they do -- but they can be pretty slow-moving compared to older tracks from their Red Album days, and even faster songs such as The Iron Bell start to show alternative rock influences that many listeners might not have enough patience for, even with the distortion-filled soloing that shows a distinct influence from the wilder parts of 70s heavy rock. But even the songs with fewer good riffs are dense with melody and stylistic device, and there are still plenty of treats for those who want a good, straightforward heavy metal song; Desperation Burns, for example, provides more of the old-time fire that the earlier albums had, and was more easily appreciated by me.

Purple shows a band whose sound has extended beyond the range of a traditional metal album. It's still hard, heavy music, but there's a lot more complexity to the sound than they started with. Like several other bands that came strictly from the metal world, but added dimension to their sound till they moved beyond a single genre (Opeth and Anathema both come to mind), Baroness's work continues to push the boundaries of what they're capable of pulling off.

Killing Songs :
Try to Disappear, Fugue, Desperation Burns
Andy quoted 82 / 100
Other albums by Baroness that we have reviewed:
Baroness - Yellow & Green reviewed by Milan and quoted 80 / 100
Baroness - Blue Record reviewed by James and quoted 86 / 100
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