September 2, 2016
Dallas, TX USA
Review by Justin Press
Photos by Justin Press
Something's In The Green Forests Outside Of Atlanta
First you have Mastodon, a lumbering beast that somehow has moved to the biggest venues in the world, secondly you have Baroness, much in the same vein: big, biting, melodic and moving up the food chain. However, two acts so closely tied couldn't be farther apart. For all their muscle and brawn, Mastodon lacks the subtle touches that make their comrades so compelling. And Friday night into a long weekend, Baroness did just that at the Granada Theater, created sublime moments among all the thunder.
Before a crowd of roughly 600, the Georgia quartet laid all colors of their catalog out for display, seizing upon the 90 minutes to focus on their latest Purple album (Yellow, Blue and Red already heralded as iconic works). Wasting no time, led by vocalist/guitarist John Baizley, the band launched into the raucous "Kerosene" off of Purple, setting off a blaze to continue throughout the evening. The lush opening notes of "March To The Sea" were soon run over by the throbbing rhythms that turn the song from lullaby into scorcher.
Slotted by guitarist Peter Adams and bassist/keys Nick Jost (with the octopi drummer Sebastian Thomson anchoring the back end), Baizley was set free to holler, croon, scream and go full force showman. A stone blue lighting scheme gave the band a crystalline vibe but the tracks were burning red hot. "Shock Me" with its huge chorus and steamroller guitars melded perfectly into the spacey tones of "Sea Lungs". The Sunday morning comedown of "If I Have To Wake Up" offered up one of those "subtle" moments as Baizley sang with his heart on his sleeve, bleeding all over his shirt. Followed by the gentle instrumental "Fugue" with its dub-style guitars and 70's keyboards was not so much a breather for the gathered but a white flag for them to regain their hearing. The Granada is about as pristine a sounding room as you'll find due to its architecture and proper dampening, what was originally a movie house was built with acoustics in mind first and foremost.
"Cocainium" off of the Yellow record dances the thin line between synth pop and post-punk, while "The Gnashing" from the Blue pulled zero punches and went right for you with its rivet gun riffs and stuttering rhythms showing off the band's prowess for textured and compelling instrumentals. The encore of "Isak" could be clearly defined as the track that captures all of the elements of the band: riff filled, impassioned vocals, sweeping melodic guitar passages and Thin Lizzy styled guitar interplay at the tail end. And just to make sure you left the theater with a combustion bomb stuck in your head, "Take Away My Bones" with that big chorus and the jazz-metal mid-section that would make the Mahavishnu Orchestra a bit on the jealous edge. With the plenty of gas left in the tank Baroness has a ton of colors left in the toolbox to paint the world with.
Arkansas's doom dwellers Pallbearer opened the evening with 45 minutes of pure Ozarkian earthquakes. Big rumbling numbers like " Worlds Apart" and "Foreigner" clock in at over 10 minutes but even in that time not a note is wasted as the band bridges the gap between Black Sabbath and Type O Negative while remaining attached to much more organic doom and gloom like Paradise Lost. However what sets Pallbearer apart and has lifted them to a different standard for the genre is vocalist/guitarist Brett Campbell who's voice is a soothing baritone menace with nary a scream or yell incorporated. It is a clean and unwavering instrument in itself and helps the carry the tracks over the mountaintops. Their latest EP Fear & Fury helps stoke the fire until their latest full-length drops this fall. The title track again is a slow moving Earth shifter that requires the patience of Tibetan Monk and it drips from the branches like frozen rain.