Abraxan Hymns

Dec 18, 2015 Issue #55 - November/December 2015 - EL VY Bookmark and Share

Baroness' first outing on their own Abraxan Hymns imprint finds them plumbing the depths of the well of harmonic Southern-tinged prog metal they first tapped to enormous success on 2009's Blue, and yet further on the 2012 double album Yellow & Green. While this unique nexus where Pelican, Rush, and The Allman Brothers meet has been a rich resource for the band, they have already collected its sweetest juices on those aforementioned albums.

To be fair, Purple is an enjoyable ride that's unlikely to disappoint avowed fans of the band. But playing it safe and not advancing their thesis substantially invites comparisons to earlier artifacts of their sonic template, artifacts that shine brighter than the present one.

Everything that makes Baroness great is here, if a little less bright for the wear. The impeccable twin guitar flights of John Baizley and Peter Adams transport melodies and riffs that aren't quite sharp enough to strike the jugular. The band's raw production still suits but under-exploits the incinerating touch of legendary Flaming Lips/MGMT producer David Fridmannwhy hire him to sound the same? Baizley's signature yell-singing and brutal lyricism feel particularly exhausted on Purple. His passionate, if not innately gifted voice strains the ear with its narrow timbre.

Again, it's not a joyless return to Baroness-ville. Tracks like "Shock Me" and "Try to Disappear" deliver the emotive power we've come to expect from this wholly unique band. But it's time to dig new wells, especially if we're waiting another three years for a sip.(

Author rating: 5.5/10

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