Are We Live? Yeah!
Baroness is a band from Georgia that have been active for the last 10 years, whose music is best described as a combination of stoner rock and sludge metal. As early as their debut album, the band managed to sign to Relapse Records, a big name in metal. Their latest release is a four track EP, a live recording from Maida Vale studios with BBC. Titled simply as Live at Maida Vale, Baroness offer one what is one of the best live records of the year so far.
At times, live records can hold a bad reputation because of the very circumstance in which they were recorded. If excessive live cheering or poor production is a turn-off, then this record is perfect. The live crowd cheers which are found on most live albums are not present here, and the production is actually rather clean. While it still retains the feel of a live recording, it simultaneously mimics the atmosphere of a regular full length recording. The volume of each sound was mixed properly, the instruments sound atmospheric, and the mastering ensures a pleasant listen all throughout.
Everything about the music on this album is impressive. It is very hard rock oriented, reminiscent of modern alternative rock mixed with wailing distorted guitars. At times, the songs are progressive and contain uncommon song structures. Interestingly, the vocals are unexpectedly clean, soothing and calm, unlike what one would expect from a sludge metal act. A highlight is the placid clean guitar use, which not only adds sufficient amounts of atmosphere, but also adds variation to the music. Finally, the drums are played magnificently; there is much variety in the cymbal use, drumming patterns, and drum fills. Overall, it gives the songs a much catchier edge, and keeps the listener’s attention.
Baroness have successfully created a piece of live music worth listening to. Even if live recordings aren’t particularly appealing, this album is definitely a must listen for fans of catchy sludge metal. With memorable riffs, addicting melodies, and unbelievable vocals, one can’t go wrong with this release.