Missed Music

Music you didn’t know you needed…until now.

Musical and melodic Metal from Baroness

One of my readers recommended I check out “The Red Album” by Baroness. It sounds like something I should have been aware of already. Heavy metal magazine Revolver named it the album of the year in 2007 and I would be inclined to agree. I’m sure I haven’t listened to as much metal as the guys at Revolver, but this is the best new metal I’ve heard in a while.

Singer John Baizley creates the tattoo-worthy artwork for all Baroness albums.

Singer John Baizley creates the tattoo-worthy artwork for all Baroness albums.

So these guys are categorized as Sludge Metal. “What?” I said, heading quickly for Wikipedia. Sludge Metal mixes Hardcore Punk with Doom Metal. “Huh?” I said, and followed the link. Doom Metal employs very slow tempos, low-tuned guitars, and a ‘thick’ or ‘heavy’ sound. OK, I can agree with all that, although I don’t hear a lot of Punk in their sound. What I do hear is power guitar, heavy vocals, rapidly changing time signatures – all elements you like in your metal band – backed by a great feel for melody and songsmithing. The anger and darkness are there, but it’s not all anger and darkness.

The whole disc is pretty cool, but here are my four favorite tracks.

  • Grad – This pounding but beautiful instrumental piece is built around a catchy guitar riff. It’s burly and forceful without ever losing a balanced melodic sense. I like this song a lot.
  • O’Appalachia – The vocals are shouted, not screamed and he’s actually hitting notes, which I always appreciate in a vocal performance (no cookie monster vocals, please). The harmonizing guitars sound like 80’s Metal meets Prog Rock.
  • Teeth of a Cogwheel – I like the percussion work in this two-minute instrumental. The production is fine as well, throwing in a muddy and blistering solo that just manages to remain inside.
  • Wanderlust – I really respect guys who can absolutely rock your face and then slip in a melodic bridge. I believe this was the single, given that it has a video. And yes, a disturbing video.

Interestingly, guitarist Brian Bickle announced he was leaving the band in September of 2008. This seems a curious move to me, given the success the band has had so far and considering his brother, Allen Bickle, plays drums. According to the post on the band’s MySpace blog, Brian is going back to school to pursue a career in law. Wow.

Well, we’ll see. It’s hard to predict how it will be, given how heavily the guitar work factored into their sound. I’m sure the new guitarist, Peter Adams, is a monster. Let’s hope he can not only fill, but stomp around in those big shoes.



June 22, 2009 - Posted by | Hard Rock, Metal


  1. if you’re a metal fan and have seen the VH1 mini-series the story of metal, at some point in the episodes they breakdown metal into all of its sub-genres – which is wicked retarded. sludge, speed, stoner, crossover, death, black, etc. whatever. this band is way talented with gorgeous riffs and stellar harmonies, despite the fact that the music and vocals are, yes, HEAVY. my friend jim, living abroad, told me last year in his introduction to this band I had yet to hear, that “this is your new favorite band”. you got that right.

    Comment by Uncle Rockie | June 27, 2009 | Reply

  2. Even music follows the 2nd law of thermodynamics and tends toward greater and greater entropy. New genres and sub-genres and sub-sub-genres popping up all the time.

    Comment by missedmusic | June 28, 2009 | Reply

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