Baroness - Unpersons split - A Grey Sigh in a Flower Husk
At A Loss Recordings
Experimental Sludge, Stoner and Thrash
6 songs (34'44")
Release year: 2007
At A Loss Recordings
Reviewed by Alex

This week of reviewing has taken me to various remote corners of the USA, where, contrary to the popular belief, various forms of extreme music are festering and growing in strength. Unbeknownst to me, and I am sure to many of you as well, Savannah, Georgia, happens to be the stronghold of sludge & stoner. Baroness and Unpersons are trying to prove it on At A Loss Recordings split, each in its own unique way.

Baroness starts Teiresias with a dose of heavy sludge, but quickly proceeds to mutate into many different, seemingly irreconcilable, styles. Sparse in vocal sense, the song is loaded in terms of directions explored by the band. Post-hardcore, melodic death, double bass driven melodic thrash – throughout this all guitarists John Baizley and Tim Loose find the time to introduce and harmonize with each other via very interesting guitar picking technique. 12 min Cavite takes things even further. Starting with Native American beat, the song adds layers of booming bass, distorted guitars and, finally, screamy, anguished ‘core, vocals. Experimental with all kinds of sounds and percussive patterns, this song hits with muscular riffs, reverberating chords and minces chops with melody so well, I kept my head nodding in approval, whether the style of music being played was closer to power metal or metalcore. Who the hell cares about naming the genre, when the end result is so non-conforming and unusual? Allen Blickle is so commanding in his drum chair, percussing his way around, he simply demands some room for an interesting solo. I’d be At A Loss to cite some influences here, but Day Without Dawn and their predecessor The Postman Syndrome came to mind.

Unpersons, featuring drummer Carl McGinley of sludge metallers Kylesa, is supposed to be more seasoned of two, especially considering the fact that Phillip Cope (also of Kylesa) produced the CD. Unpersons is a lot more focused than Baroness and is quite a bit more interested in pure dissonance, but appealed less to me in their more single-minded ride. Carl does shine and, if you try to make sense of it all, cacophony eventually makes sense on Number, and Dry Hand momentarily hits its stride going away from just plain being crazy. Draggy sound of Dry Hand is some pure sludge bliss, but there is too much rudimentary drunken debauch with heart-rending, hysterical screaming and gurgling going on Black Finnegan and A Small Gesture, A Thousand Small Happy Gestures. The latter, unable to handle multiple stops and starts, eventually slips into cavernous static. I have to admit here, however, that sludgecore has never been my thing.

For the sake of Baroness’ two tracks this split is definitely worth keeping. The band is in the process of recording a full-length for Relapse, this EP serving as a precursor.

Killing Songs :
Both Baroness tracks
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