Mellifluous Metal: Baroness’ Yellow & Green

(And/or a dialogue with an imaginary audience…)

“How’s it going?”

Not good. Right now, I should probably be writing about how great the new Grizzly Bear album Shields is.

“So why don’t you?”

Because as pristine and well-constructed as it sounds, it doesn’t resonate with me personally. I generally prefer not to write negative thoughts about artists I respect, so…

“Hmm…”

Instead, I find myself wanting needing to talk about an album that came out two months ago and has really wormed its way into my ear and thoughts.

“What?”

Baroness’ Yellow and Green. Ever heard of them? They are from Georgia. And they are a metal band.

“…”

I know what you are thinking. But, let me begin by highlighting or foregrounding or both, two key things: (1) I generally don’t really care for metal and (2), in extension to (1), my knowledge of the genre and artists is really poor. Honestly, my list of “favorite” metal bands includes only early Sabbath, early Metallica, and Faith No More (do they count?).  And, if you are willing to grant me Mars Volta and Tool as “metal”-ish (because I like them quite a bit), then we are getting somewhere — just short of the Brady Bunch though.

“…”

But, wow, this album by Baroness has really struck a chord: it’s strident, melodious, musically eclectic and unrelentingly beautiful.

“Did you really just write that about a metal record?”

Yes, yes, I did and I stand by every word.  The orchestrations are sonically all-engrossing and overwhelming yet delicately composed.

“Why were you listening to this record if you don’t like metal?”

Good question. A couple of weeks back I heard the first single “Take My Bones Away” and was totally floored by the precision and volume of the guitars. Also, perhaps owing to the dearth of good loud rock and punk records for the past couple of years, I seek out anything with a thrashing pulse. (Note: I do think there have been some great rocking records in recent memory (e.g., Wild Flag’s s/t, Sleigh Bells Reign of Terror, Japandroids’ Celebration Rock, and Cloud Nothings’ Attack On Memory, to name a few) but just a lot less than during my adolescence and early 20s).

“Okay, great, so you really miss rock records, and you found one metal record of recent vintage you liked. But why should I listen to this?”

I’m so glad you asked. Yellow & Green isn’t simply a “metal record”. It is far more complex, layered and nuanced and transcends one’s expectations of what a metal band sounds like and/or is capable of. First off, this isn’t a collection of really loud and brash guitars with a screaming lead singer, perhaps the stereotypical conception of the genre. Second, the record covers a wide range of rock styles from Pink Floyd’s early psychedelic sound to 70s Art/Prog Rock orchestration of Rush and Genesis to the medieval folk rock of Led Zeppelin or the AOR rock of early 80s Styx. I can sense a question and/or a raised eyebrow but just listen to tracks 5 (“Twinkler”) and 6 (“Cocanium”). If you think I’m crazy, well fine, but I will defend how impressively intricate and creative the melodies on this double album are and how it resonates with the sort of raw and pure emotion of my favorite punk rock bands like Bad Religion and Alkaline Trio, see “Back Where I Belong”…. I’m kind of out of breath right now.

“Well, are you gonna share the link to the album or what?”

Yes, but only cause you asked so nicely.  Listen to Baroness’ Yellow & Green in its entirety here.

(Withhold judgment on my sanity though.)

a.a.

Other really loud records I like:

Unfortunately no Tool, Metallica, or early Sabbath on Spotify…

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