Pros:Great mix of hevay metal, classic-style rock, and dark psychadelia
The Bottom Line: Baroness' Yellow & Green was a high point for heavy metal in 2012.
Georgia has become quite the unlikely hotbed of heavy metal in recent years thanks to the emergence of bands like Mastodon, Kylesea, and Black Tusk, bands that mix mighty heaviness with inventive psychedelia. That hotbed status should only grow thanks to Yellow & Green, a double album from Savannah’s Baroness. This sprawling work of diverse metal and hard rock is a refreshing and memorable effort that should go down as one of 2012’s best, not just in this genre but among all the year’s rock.
Recommend this product?
Yellow & Green is packed with adrenaline-rushers, songs that perfectly blend accessible hard rock with a gritty, indie-metal spirit. “Take My Bones Away” is the album’s first driving rocker but far from its last. Lead vocalist John Dyer Baizley exudes focused intensity on tracks like “Sea Lungs” and “March to the Sea.” Yes, he has a burly metal growl but one that’s tempered with a singing style, making these songs less all-out metal and even veering toward a more classic rock sound. That straightforward rock vibe is most apparent on “The Line Between,” but it makes its way onto many tracks on these two discs such as the trippy “Back Where I Belong” and the stomping “Board Up the House.” The highlight of the album, however, is “Eula,” an epic, doomy number peppered with dark imagery in lines like “‘Oh, this apple makes me sick’ cries the pig upon his stick.” Hey, I said the music was accessible, not poppy.
While Baizley exhibits a decent vocal range, the rest of the band shows an even wider array of talents. Sure, they can rock hard, churning out crunching metal riffs with wild, electric bits as on “Little Things.” They can also, however, slow things down to create creepy or soulful atmospheres. “Twinkler” is driven by gentler picking behind Baizley’s soft drones and a fly-like hum that gives the song an eerie feel. Several instrumentals further reveal the bands’ many talents, bridging together the heavier numbers. “Green Theme” for example, see-saws between mellow strumming and what amounts to a wordless, stadium-rocking anthem. And softer, more psychedelic pieces create the perfect build-up to metal bursts like the ferocious refrain of “Cocanium” or the midpoint explosion in “Psalms Alive.”
Generally, Yellow is the harder half of album while Green is the mellower, but the album is best enjoyed in one full, seventy-five-minute listen. Throughout these two discs, Baroness look back to all kinds of influences while pushing metal forward. Look for big things from these Georgian volume-lovers in the future. For now, though, enjoy the excellence they’ve already put forward on Yellow & Green.