When: Sat., Nov. 28, 9 p.m. 2015
Nobody’s ever done Baroness any favors by calling them “metal.” I like this Georgia band’s music not in spite of but sometimes thanks to its corny southern-rock flavor, life-affirming sentimentality, and what front man and guitarist John Baizley himself has described as his pompous, self-aware poeticism—but that combination is Kryptonite to a certain kind of metalhead. I still remember a 2009 Village Voice piece that derided Baroness’s “stoner-metal-meets-Ford-truck-jingle approach.” Would such a listener tolerate the band’s aspirational leanings any better on the new Purple (due December 18 on their own Abraxan Hymns label), given that it’s their first album since a catastrophic 2012 tour-bus crash that left Baizley with titanium plates in his reconstructed elbow? (Bassist Matt Maggioni and drummer Allen Blickle, who both broke vertebrae, departed amicably in spring 2013 and were replaced by Nick Jost and Trans Am alumnus Sebastian Thomson.) I’m gonna say no, because Baroness’s triumphalism has always had adversity to push back against, and it’s never persuaded that crowd—though Baizley hasn’t had a drink since 2000, he’s struggled with other forms of substance abuse, and he lives with social anxiety severe enough to give him panic attacks. Even before the crash, he called the band’s music “self-psychiatry”—and Purple is more cathartic and concise than its predecessor, the sprawling Yellow & Green. The record’s hothouse lushness, contributed in large part by producer Dave Fridmann, can sometimes feel a bit airless, but I love its startlingly powerful shifts in texture and density—and thumbs-up to the “Fat Bottomed Girls”-style double-drum-kit fills at the end of “Kerosene” and the searing, stadium-size twin-guitar cock-rock flourishes in “Chlorine & Wine.” Baroness plays earlier this afternoon at the Wicker Park location of Reckless Records.
Price: sold out