Review: Baroness “Second” CD

Here's another solid EP from this Georgia quartet that holds true to their amalgamation of all sorts of influences from sludgy grooves and dingy southern tinged rhythms with plenty of jarring shifts and unusual time signatures to a few new twists and turns with some mangled and dark 70's rock inspired guitar work and plenty of dynamic changeups. When the unexpectedly melodic clean passage drops towards the tail end of opener "Red Sky" it becomes really evident how interwoven a lot of this material is in terms of excellently delivered drum fills meshing against individualized dual guitar lines as fluid bass runs float back and forth in between. Of course, the clarity of the recording also helps bring a lot of these subtle details to the surface since everything is so crisp and spacious in the mix. I think I read that they recorded this entire 20-minute span (all three tracks run together) live in the studio, and it sounds extremely impressive considering. The drums just sound fucking perfect, and the guitars are nice and up front with a really surprising level of clarity to their overall texture. The basslines then fill things in nicely and generally play a pretty significant role, and the hoarsely shouted vocals are powerful without overpowering any of the instrumentation. "Son of Sun" is a rather sparse segment overall, largely driven by slow to midpaced instrumental passages, though once things truly kick in towards the final couple of minutes there are actually a few Swedish sounding riffs popping up that come as a surprise. "Vision" then winds around with tons of lightly distorted riffs that again touch on some of that odd 70's rock sounding stuff, but it's all so twisted up that it's not as straightforward as it might seem, so it makes sense in the grand scheme of things, and actually provides some pretty intense melodies once the distortion kicks in and things get a little grimier in terms of the rhythm playing. Visually things look quite similar to the first EP in terms of overall aesthetic with some awesome illustrations and excellent text arrangements that, while hard to read, are worth every ounce of illegibility for their visual presence alone. And most of the lyrical content seems to rely largely on rather open or abstract expressions as it is: "Soul swallowed without heat absolved I am spirit never born but dreamed..." Another nice chunk of work here. I think their debut EP was slightly stronger since some of the drawn out instrumental runs this time around can start to lose my interest here and there, but thankfully most of their shifts are well timed, so the end result holds up well, and I'm sure the best is yet to come from Baroness.

Running time - 20:20, Tracks: 3
[Notable tracks: all three have their moments]
Hyperrealist -