It's possibly a bit of a stretch to call Baroness the Bon Iver of metal. But on third album Yellow & Green, (which follows the Red (2007) and Blue (2009) records), they have a few wistful pastoral moments like the beautiful acoustic serenade of Twinkler.
It's just one example of this sprawling double album being the biggest departure from Baroness' sludge and progressive metal sound of the past.
They are a versatile band; songwriter John Baizley played here earlier this year on a joint acoustic tour with fellow metaller Scott Kelly of Neurosis and Baroness supported Metallica at Vector Arena in 2010. So it's no surprise Yellow & Green can move from refrains like Twinkler to the ruthlessly heavy Sea Lungs and the dangerous dirge of Take My Bones Away. But their true might comes from their intent to take the music to places it's never been before. There's the cantering Yes-styled prog rock whimsy of Cocanium; Back Where I Belong is a stirring gothic ballad; Board Up the House has a plundering hook similar to the Buzzcocks' Why Can't I Touch This?; and the lurching, alien heaviness of Eula is a fitting centrepiece.
If it all sounds a bit arty, you'd be right, but there is a toughness that saves it from being flowery and lightweight. It sounds like something entirely daring and new, which is what music is all about. But for that reason it takes a bit of getting used to, so give it time.
Verdict: Taking heavy rock to places unknown
Buy Yellow & Green by Baroness here.