Baroness have managed to encapsulate all things that make rock music great with their fourth album simply entitled Purple. With this record the band have managed to make something that sounds classic, progressive, melodic and breathtakingly modern all at the same time.
As a Baroness album Purple is exceptional, as a rock album in 2015 Purple is unmatched and as an example of modern forward thinking music Purple is a shining light. With their previous album, Yellow and Green, Baroness began to experiment with bigger and more expansive sounds all contained within the mould of short, punchy, classic sounding rock songs. Purple sees the band perfecting this style and sees them moving away from their comparable contemporaries.
Those worried that Baroness would forgo their more metal roots in search of a more radio friendly style will be overcome relief almost as soon as they hit play. Album opener “Morningstar” kicks off with an absolutely monstrous riff that attacks both ear drums with such a level of power and force, you feel as if your head has been caught between two sledgehammers. When this album wants to it can shift gears at an alarming pace and it appears Baroness aren’t afraid to crank up the heavy when they need to. Track “Desperation Burns” has a main riff that wouldn’t sound out of place on a black metal record whilst songs like “The Iron Bell” provide the album with a real level of punk rock energy and vibrancy. There is clear influence from classic bands too when it comes to the riffing on this record with guitar runs that seemingly pay homage to groups like Thin Lizzy. However, Baroness manage to incorporate these old school ideas into something which sounds refreshingly current and modern as oppose to simply rehashing what has come before.
Purple also sees the group continue to expand on the beautiful and intricate melodies found on their more recent material. There is a real sense of light and dark portrayed masterfully on this album as songs like “Shock Me” can make you feel as if you want to take on the world, whereas tracks such as “Chlorine and Wine” and “If I Have To Wake Up” enrapture you in a mournful yet still beautiful sound. This level of emotional brevity is not only found in the musicality of this album but also in the incredible vocal performances from John Baizley and Peter Adams. Purple is an incredibly emotional record and the sheer amount of passion featured in the vocals is infectious. You really feel a sense of meaning behind these songs and tracks like the aforementioned “Chlorine and Wine” hit you with a thunderous amount of soul and feeling. The interplay between both vocalist is also something of note as the soaring harmonies created by Peter Adams really help counterbalance the gruffer almost punk rock snarl of lead vocalist John Baizley. Purple also has a great amount of catchy radio ready choruses too, just one listen to some of these songs if enough for them to worm their way into your brain and never leave. On the second spin of this record it’s impossible not to instantly be shouting along to these tracks as if they were some of the classic anthems from your youth.
What truly makes this album sit firmly above its peers is just the level of craft that’s been put into it. The term progressive is used to describe pretty much any band that has long songs but Baroness manage to do what most bands accomplish in an album within the space of four minutes. Purple shows that you don’t need to create bloated meandering music in order to validate your musical talents. With this album there are twists and turns around every corner but they always feel cohesive and as though they have an important place within the song. Tracks are layered with lush subtle melodies, including intricate guitar work and spacious synthesisers. Purple really takes you on a journey and as corny as that sounds its undeniably true. Baroness are clearly all extremely talented musicians but its never shoved directly in your face. Those wanting to be blown away by technical prowess will not be dissatisfied and those who simply want to dance and lose themselves to a fantastic rock record will be equally overjoyed. The most important thing is that despite all that the band manage to cram in this record never drags and never even appears like it may be overstaying its welcome. It leaves the listener feeling completely satisfied and overwhelmingly excited as to where this band can go next.
All things considered it’s frankly impossible to point out any flaws with Purple and in all honesty this is the type of band that should be representing modern rock music. Baroness have managed to make something that can appeal to any audience, that feels somehow both classic and forward thinking at the same time. If you don’t give this album at least one listen you are seriously depriving yourself of the chance to experience one of modern rock music’s finest moments. Whether you agree or not the state of current alternative music is growing slightly stale and Purple by Baroness feels like a massive shot in the arm.