Archive for Baroness

Preview: Heavy MTL 2013

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 7, 2013 by Lightning Slim

And so the pilgrimage is set to begin again. Heavy MTL 2013 will (hopefully) be a good time that will rinse out the bad taste of encroaching cheapness that has overtaken the show of late. Main sponsor has switched from Budweiser to Molson Canadian, which is a bit like telling a captive that flogging has been discontinued in favour of foot-sole beatings.

Also, remember these?

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The beautiful holographic VIP passes and lanyards that have been a cool feature of the MTL experience are now gone. Paper tickets only. Wonder how MUNG those are going to get when we have to show them to security every time we want to get into the seating area? Also likely gone is any sort of physical schedule, which was slowly eroded from a full magazine/brochure until last year it was a single flyer, inaccurate and delivered late in the day.

For the first time, MTL has offered its own dedicated accommodation package; a set of rooms at the New Residence of McGill University (the building itself is a former 4-star hotel). This could either be the best decision we’ve ever made or the worst, as it is inexpensive and convenient, and populated entirely with heavy metal maniacs. You see the double edge of the sword here, no?

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Now, for the schedule. Here’s Saturday:

Sat Schedule

 

Although I’m a little sad that A7X takes pride of place over Megadeth, I totally get it. Dudes are old and tired. Not as successful as Metallica or grass-roots respected as Testament. Plus, Dave Mustaine is like three seconds away from pulling his pants up to his armpits and turning into cranky old Republican Clint Eastwood. Thing is, Eastwood has always been a “good guy with a gun”, and never wrote “Hook In Mouth” or covered “Anarchy in the UK”.  My crew will be hanging with Wintersun anyways.

Why are we forced to decide between GWAR and Blackguard while Halestorm is in the free and clear? Grr. Ah well, I can’t resist seeing what the inconsistent Antarcticans* can come up with in a festival setting.

Similarly, it hurts me that I have to run from interesting proggers Baroness to see a few minutes of jaunty, parodic Steel Panther.

Sorry, Newsted. A reformed At The Gates takes it. And a possible train wreck reunion of Danzig and Doyle is way more fun than All Shall Perish.

How about Sunday?

Schedule Sun

No interruptions to the silly fun of Huntress! Or Finntroll! Or the-real-reason-everyone-is-here Amon Amarth! Me likey.

Then there’s some time for a Dagwood sandwich, some people watching and a bit of a nap before Machine Head.

Thrash newcomers Havok would be in trouble if both Mastodon and Children of Bodom hadn’t played Canada 150 times in the past decade. I swear I’ve seen Mastodon more than the Dayglo Abortions, and it’s well-known the Dayglos will play your living room for $200 and a pizza if you can track them down. Looking forward to it, Havok!

While I actually enjoyed the mellow vibe Godsmack brought to their last appearance at MTL, I don’t need it again. Certainly not at the expense of missing Cryptopsy.

Zombie is never bad live – let’s hope he keeps his record strong.

 

Will report back afterwards, of course! Check my Twitter feed for on-the-day shenanigans!

 

* I love GWAR, but they can’t self-edit. Every record (excepting the first two) has at least one excruciatingly bad track on it. I made a “worst of” playlist and discovered they could play an hour long full set of filler.

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Album Reviews – Baroness “Red Album” 2007 & “Blue Record” 2009

Posted in Album Reviews, Deals & Steals, Sevens to Nines with tags , , , , , on June 15, 2010 by Lightning Slim

Long the darlings of the indie music magazines, Baroness finally piqued my interest when I saw both releases side by side* at Vortex Records. The surprised clerk declared this a shopping victory, and both records criminally underpriced at $7.99 apiece. “Blue is better than Red“, he said, “but both are pretty great”. Leave your Matrix jokes up here and proceed to the land of Baroness:

  My first listen to the Red Album  didn’t go so well, as I became infuriated by the sheer excess of the proceedings. Red sounds like Master of Reality, Opiate and Moving Pictures fighting in a burlap sack with the first Killing Joke record standing outside and beating them with a stick. Just when the head begins to nod to any particular beat or riff, or you attempt to puzzle out some of the deceptively simple lyrics, Baroness are off and running to new musical locations. There is beautiful musicianship here, but grasping it is for those with patience, as Red is going to steamroller towards its thundering conclusion with or without you, fueled up for the long haul and wearing a catheter. Recording is of the expensively shabby variety, with drums exhibiting a retro-cavernous feel that puts your melon right inside the kicker. Right around the fourth listen is when I started to get into the groove of things, although I think my perceptions were made more accommodating by having Blue on hand as well.

  The Blue Record is immediately more accessible, with more attention paid to traditional song structures, attempts at vocal harmonies and smoother transitions throughout. There’s a bit less noodling and a bit more engagement, playing fetch once in a while rather than merely inviting chase. The twin guitar attack is as precise as before, but it feels more like something Baroness are sharing with you rather than keeping to themselves. One less majestic thing Blue shares with its spiritual predecessor is a lack of direction to the vocals, almost as if it doesn’t matter to the band whether the tracks have a singer or not. It’s not poor singing or lack of intelligibility (I like grindcore, remember?), just a bit of a void on lung detail. Try to imagine the bummer if some of the bands responsible for the grab-bag of heaviness I mentioned earlier had a mediocre approach to vocals. I know it’s a convention of the sludge/doom/shoegaze scene to just stand there and yell, and not everyone is Serj Tankian, but music as sweeping, complex and mind-bending as the opus Baroness create on Red and Blue deserves hall-of-fame expression at each and every station.

Baroness are not every-day material, nor should they be. This is strong, heavy music that demands full attention. I suppose I could have just said the store clerk was right. Red: 7 out of 10 / Blue: 8 out of 10

*It could have been two hours of someone recording their farts and I would have made the effort to review these records, if only to get that fantastic artwork up. Band leader John Dyer Baizley is a polymath indeed.

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