Disposable Heroes: Baroness’s “Blue Record”

There’s little more annoying on this planet than the immoral majority telling you how essential, transcendent and (huh-huh) seminal a particular extreme album is, when you know that it’s overrated as fuck. Hence, our new Wednesday morning column, “Disposable Heroes,” in which one brave soul sails against the current to inform all you clones why you can’t spell classic without “ass.” This week, Frank Lemke farts in the general direction of former dB album of the year Blue Record, by Baroness.
Blue Record might be metal’s hippest dance record. I’ll give it that, but that’s a bad thing. It sucks, in fact. At least half this album sucks. I’ll break this down all systematic, like a lawyer, and make my case.

Alright. There’s an intro. “Bullhead’s Psalm.” Take it or leave it.

“The Sweetest Curse.” OK, initially I like the guitar sound; it’s different. The call-and-answer vocals sound sick, too. The lead into the hook before 3:00 is fucking rad, and the end is heavy and catchy. Noodling outro: whatever, still a cool opening track. They didn’t drop the ball yet. Wait for it. This ain’t no Barry Horowitz.

That’s followed by “Jake Leg.” Signature Baroness winding hectic guitar parts, almost a surf beat—surf metal, a great idea. Not bad. I begin to wonder: Do I have a case?

blue record

Yes I do. Next track is “Steel That Sleeps the Eye,” the beginning of the end. Below-average vocal filler. I could whistle a better song. Very indie, not heavy, definitely losing it.

Then “Swollen and Halo” is where it really takes a dive. It has a decent intro, but later it sounds like dance music. Is it just me? It sounds like Baizley screaming over Depeche Mode. And not just one time: there are dance beats all throughout it. What is going on here? Who the hell is drumming? Did the guy from the Killers stop through the studio? There are some cool parts, but I’m heavily distracted by the dance parts. Homie don’t play that.

Next is “Ogeechee Hymnal.” At least we’re talking about the right kind of Indian here: Native Americans are badass. Thing is, I can tell this is supposed to be a heavy, driving song. It’s supposed to be tribal, like all my tattoos; but it’s too treble-y. It’s all high end, not a good low, not a deep sound at all. Plus, it’s half-ambient filler. More proggy, less metal, not good.

“A Horse Called Golgotha.” First of all, this guitar sounds like a cat stuck in a tree when it should sound more like bones caught in gears. I’d be willing to let that slide, but then what the fuck is that goddamn fucking drum beat?! This is not dance music! That shit is not heavy: it’s laughable. And the call-and-answer vocal hook is annoying this time. Then there’s the big open space in the middle for the solo, and they really put the guitar in the front, and I can’t deny the solo. The song should end on that high note, but it dwindles on.

Fuck my ass, the next song, “O’er Hell and Hide,” after some acoustic nonsense, begins with a fucking dance beat. Really? It’s like they’re trying to piss me off. Christ, and it goes on for the whole song. It sounds like dance music. It sounds like the Faint. Yeah, I’ve heard the Faint. This is what Rusted Root would sound like if they were less the-worst-band-on-earth and more fucking metal. Sure, it’s heavy, for dance music. This would be a club hit if it weren’t topped with outlandish spoken vocals about coming through your father. I came through my father once and I don’t like to think about it.

Thank goodness that “War, Wisdom and Rhyme” doesn’t feature a dance beat, or I may have twisted my ears off writing this. It sounds like metal again. It sounds like Baroness. I can’t really complain about this.

“Blackpowder Orchard.” Eh, weak acoustic track. I liked these more last album.

“The Gnashing.” Oh, cool, it’s “Grad II.” That’s cool; I loved “Grad.” Maybe if they called this “The Grading,” or “Graduated,” it would make more sense. But I don’t hate this song. It’s a good final track. It’s happy metal, which is better than dance metal.

Shit, there’s more? “Bullhead’s Lament.” Whatever, man. Just another fucking song. Album should have been over.

And I’m not stopping there. You know what else? Baizley finally went bald by Blue Record. Had to cut that shit. Not very metal, if you ask me. Sure, dude’s a badass who smokes mad pizza, and he makes me seem about as cool as Richard Simmons. I just love to run my hand through my thick head of greasy hair, that’s all I’m saying.

cover spread

Lastly: who remember the Baroness cover issue? “How they made what could be album of the year.” If Decibel were committing a murder, that would be called establishing intent. I think. I do watch Law & Order. Anyway, it’s a good thing we weren’t killing anybody.

Fine, I admit: the album was catchier than I remember it. But I do not, under any circumstances, listen to anything that sounds remotely like dance music. Not even when Baroness are forcing it down my throat. Fuck that. Half of this album is pussy.

Between the EPs and how much I love Red Album, I guess that’s why I’m so cockhurt over Blue Record being a dance album. Anyway, I don’t let it stop me from jerking off.