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Baroness

Yellow & Green

Relapse / Release

I suppose you can never have too much metal, but sometimes I find the stream of hard core, grunge core, sludge core and what-the-heck core bands overwhelming. That's why I find this double release from Savannah's Baroness refreshing; they keep in mind music requires some structure and melody, and while there's no question they are willing to make some ears bleed, under each guitar assault I find a pleasant hippy pop tune hoping to escape and spread flower petals across the battlefield. Baroness like to name albums after colors, and while they don't stick to the rainbow Roy G Biv convention, Yellow and Green offer a nice set of exciting songs. Consider their first single off the Yellow disk: "Take My Bones." It opens with a driving riff and a lost love song vocal "Did you follow another way?" The guitars harkens back to the glory days of Aerosmith and Kiss, the vocals are as suicidal as anything Kurt Cobain could spin out, and the mix is a nearly perfect post power pop love ballad.

Baroness likes to open songs with deceptively gentle chord-based openings, and then rip out your heart and ear drums. Take "Cocainium," clearly one of the cleverest titles of the year. "Tell Me When the Blood Stops Flowing" intones John Baizley, and the lyric is made more poignant by the band's recent crash when their bus fell off a viaduct in England. There's a strong pop sensibility in Baroness, they don't seem to hold anger and vengeance as the highest purpose of rocking out. I'll even bet if you got them to sit down without their amplifiers, they could belt out a decent rendition of "Greensleeves." This is a metal band with heart, and probably some hearing ability as well.

Relapse: www.relapse.com/