Record #427: Baroness – Purple (2015)

Metal in general tends to take itself a little too seriously.

That’s especially true of doom and progressive. Yet Purplethough existing squarely in the intersection of the two, manages to have fun with it.

And I mean like…tons of fun. This record is as fist-pumping as Billy Idol, as head-banging as Rush, and as soul-crushingly heavy as Pallbearer.

For proof, look no further than the absolutely epic second track, “Shock Me.” The chorus melody rides the crest of lead singer John Dyer Baizley’s range as the chord changes shift cleverly under him in a different pattern.

There’s no shortage of metal albums that are heavier or doomier or more epic. But not too many or more badass. As beautifully performed and cerebrally composed as this record is, it’s all soaked in pure testosterone and set on fire.

JDB’s voice sounds like honey mixed with gasoline. The guitars rip through some of the most electrifying guitar solos since hair metal went out of fashion. At times, it feels a little bit like Baroness is playing at parody. But they play the whole thing with such damned earnestness that every ounce of irony is burned in the fire.

And through the shifting time signatures and gut punching riffs, there’s plenty of delicate beauty. Subtle keyboards float through the album. The epic closer, “If I Have to Wake Up (Would You Stop the Rain?),” could find another life as an acoustic ballad. But here, it’s played with an unrelenting drum shuffle, a fuzz bass, and Baizley’s monstrous voice.

And somehow, through all that thunder and flame, it loses none of its beauty.

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