Baroness Red Album

Establishing themselves as architects of precise and intricate, yet destructive, metal with EPs dating back to 2003, Savannah, GA’s Baroness seemed hesitant to release a full-length until they had honed and mastered their progressive metal sound. Finding that style — a blend of Mastodon’s complexity with the weight and patience of Neurosis — Red Album is razor-sharp, the perfect balance of sophistication and outright sludge. Allowing the effort to breathe, songs such as opener "Rays On Pinion” allude to orchestral movements and acoustic introductions before obliterating with distorted thunder and breakneck pacing. It showcases a band that not only examine the smallest elements of their craft but also step back to ensure the greater picture offers gains of immediate and long-term appeal. The metallic girth is virtually instantaneous but over time, the disc feels almost like a series of unravelling movements, as opposed to plain old straightforward songs. While four years seems a lengthy wait for a debut full-length when a band have built up strong word-of-mouth appreciation, in the case of Red Album, Baroness stifle queries with a well-placed, methodical and unforgettable blow. (Relapse)