It seems like with each progressive record, I like Baroness less and less. The first and second ep’s were fantastic. Red was pretty good. Blue had some cool songs and was a little underwhelming. And Yellow & Green was a pretty forgettable record for me. So let’s be honest, I didn’t really have high hopes for Purple.
Maybe it was those low expectations or it’s the new energy (members) infused into the band, because Purple, while not sounding like the band I fell in love with, is a great record. Easily my favorite record from Baroness since Red. It might not be a heavier record than Blue, but it’s more intense. It feels more like Mastodon in spots. Take the albums opener, Morningstar, for example. It reminds me a lot of Crack the Skye. The opening riff is huge and then the song derails into a similar riff that’s not quite as massive, giving way for John Baizley’s vocals. The lead is more prog and hippie-ish than you’d hear from Mastodon, but that’s to be expected from Baroness at this point. There’s not a ton of variation or movement in the track, but I like it all the same.
Shock Me has some cool riffs and grooves, but something about the vocals give the track a pop vibe that’s weird. The hook in particular doesn’t inspire any excitement in me. The band gets pretty trippy with some electronics on Try to Disappear. The chorus takes a pretty unexpected left turn and the song becomes a really interesting composition. The opening riff for Kerosene might be my favorite riff I’ve heard from Baroness. The hook is like a trippy grunge chorus. The random sounds in the background don’t always make sense. I imagine it’s a cool experience if you’re high.
Fugue is an instrumental interlude that doesn’t really make sense. Chlorine and Wine is the perfect sludge/doom/stoner metal track. A great build that gets super heavy before heading off into stoner dream land for a spin. The Iron Bell is just a killer rock song. It’s almost the type of song I would’ve expected from Baroness, only done better. One of my favorites on the record for sure. Desperation Burns is super heavy and maybe the most metal song on the album. If I Have to Wake Up (Would You Stop the Rain?) is both a great closer and kind of a deflating bummer. It’s the type of song that could both open and close a record. I just wish the track had a stronger close.
If I have one huge beef with this record, it’s the production. The record sounds over compressed and distorted. It sounds like the drums are intentionally distorted. It makes the record really hard to listen to in one sitting. Especially if you’re listening on headphones.
There’s a lot of things I like about the songs on Purple and there are things that make me scratch my head. Yes, I enjoy Purple more than any Baroness record in a while, but it’s still not a record I love. I know mainstream press loved the record, but it’s just not my cup of tea. 3.5 out of 5 Stars.