In the spring of 2006, our publisher Red Flag Media made the dubious decision to send Team Decibel to Austin’s annual industry schmoozefest South by Southwest. Game plan: 1) decimate our livers via as many free drink tickets as possible, 2) ?, 3) profit. In between careful avoidance of the usual interchangeable “indie” rock dross, the editor in chief and yours truly found ourselves in a basement bar watching four wild-eyed southern boys showcase their unhinged hybrid of His Hero Is Gone, Neurosis, Tragedy and the Fucking Champs. Being lifelong G.I. Joe fans, we appreciated their moniker—Baroness—almost as much as their unbound experimental energy. I had just enough cash for either a shirt or the CD pressings of the First and Second EPs, and chose the former. (Free tunes—immediate or eventual—is one of the best perks of this gig.)
Fast-forward a year and a half, and you can imagine our excitement as that ferocious Savannah, GA four-piece—guitarist/vocalist John Baizley, bassist Summer Welch, drummer Allen Blickle and his brother, newish axeman Brian Blickle—were poised to make good on the promise of their debut full-length. Baroness’ Red Album did not live up to those EPs… the same way that every ensuing full-length did not “live up to” its predecessor. They didn’t have to. One of the most dynamic bands populating that hellacious Venn diagram of sludge/prog/psych/alternative/southern rock, Baroness thrive upon almost evangelical repeated listens. And not in that “doing homework” way where you have to force yourself to like something acclaimed. From the ominous volume swells of “Rays on Pinion” and the shout-along swagger of “Isak” to the serpentine bridge of “Wanderlust” and the triumphant coda of “Grad,” Red Album established a blueprint that Baizley and a host of collaborators would fearlessly refine, deconstruct and even outright smash over the ensuing 13 years. Color us impressed, and color it Hall-worthy.
Need more Baroness? To read the entire six-page story, featuring interviews with all members on Red Album, purchase the print issue from our store, or digitally via our app for iPhone/iPad or Android.