Release Date: Dec 18, 2015
Record label: Abraxan Hymns
Genre(s): Heavy Metal, Hard Rock
It's a wonderful thing when a highly anticipated metal record finally comes out and turns out to be really worth the wait. People have been hyping up Baroness' new release, Purple, like crazy, and with good reason. The group were in a nearly fatal bus accident in 2012 that resulted in two members getting seriously injured and leaving the group; whether Baroness would ever record music again was up in the air.
It's been almost four years since Baroness’ last record, 2012’s Yellow & Green. That 18-song, 75-minute double album found the onetime sludge group making calmer, more melodic rock music, and seemed to presage a crossover. There was energy around the band, a palpable sense of momentum. But a month or so after the release of the record, Baroness got into a bus crash while on tour in England.
Purple is a great album and an amazing achievement on a number of levels. First off, of course, is the fact that it exists at all, three years after the UK bus crash that seriously injured all four of the group’s members only weeks after the release of their extraordinary double album Yellow & Green. Bassist Matt Maggioni and drummer Allen Blickle suffered spinal injuries that eventually necessitated their departure from the band while bandleader and singer/guitarist John Baizley was left to recover from his own severe injuries while trying to reassemble a band that had seemed on the cusp of a major commercial breakthrough.
The year 2012 should have been one of great triumph for Savannah’s Baroness. Having put out two celebrated long-play sets through Relapse, the then-trio delivered the rock record of the year with July’s Yellow & Green, a multi-faceted double-disc delight that never once lost its intense focus. I was immediately smitten, more so than I’d been with any of the act’s previous offerings.
A bus accident in 2012 permanently altered reality for Baroness. While on tour to promote the just-released Yellow & Green, they crashed through a guardrail in heavy rain and fell 30 feet. Though all the members survived, drummer Allen Blickle and bassist Matt Maggioni each suffered fractured vertebrae and ultimately left the group. Frontman/guitarist John Baizley (who spent months in recovery) and guitarist Pete Adams enlisted drummer Sebastian Thomson (Trans Am) and jazz bassist Nick Jost (who also handles keyboards) as their new rhythm section.
You’d name your albums after colors too, if you could paint like John Baizley, the RISD dropout who fronts Savannah psych-metal heroes Baroness and designs their mytho-fantastical cover art. “I’m starting to realize I do need to carve out some time and do something more personal, some art that won’t have a logo and barcode attached to it,” Baizley told Metal Injection last year, though it shouldn’t be a huge leap for a guy who once played a solo show in an art gallery. Naturally, his band paints the aural canvas with vivid tones in a genre whose purist players often stick to black-and-white-and-red-all-over grindcore.
Having narrowly survived a brutal bus accident while on tour in the UK in 2012, Baroness have every reason to be relieved that they were able to make a fourth album at all. Prior to their dance with death, the Georgians were steadily becoming one of the hottest names in heavy music, their sprawling Yellow & Green double set earning them widespread acclaim, despite being a gentler and more diverse record than its predecessors. Purple is a far more focused and fiery beast; both a return to the stormy riffing and skewed melodies of old and a subtle but unmistakable lunge for mainstream glory.
Out of respect, I won’t elaborate on the details of the bus crash Baroness suffered while touring England in 2012. It’s been heavily documented, the story told and retold since it happened — a tragedy that should befall no band, or anyone, for that matter. “The band suffered a gigantic bruise,” singer-guitarist John Baizley said. “It was an injury that prevented us from operating in a normal way for quite some time.” Purple is their triumphant comeback, encapsulating the grief, recovery, and revitalization of Baroness.
The cult US band emerge from the wreckage of a near-fatal bus crash stronger than ever. There’s enough trauma in the world right now that even the tiniest crack of light is something to cling to. For Baroness, that crack of light comes in the shape of their fourth album, Purple. In August 2012, a horrific bus crash almost wiped the US band out, leaving singer/guitarist John Baizley hospitalised and in danger of losing his arm.
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. .
Tragedy sucks but can inspire survivors with focus, passion and clarity of vision. In 2012, Georgian alt-metal band Baroness barely came out alive after their tour bus plunged 10 metres off a viaduct near Bath while the band was on tour in England. Nine people were injured, and in the aftermath, drummer Allen Blickle and bassist Matt Maggioni quit the band.
"Nothing can truly prepare you for a brush with death. The event is [a] unique one, singular to the observer." - John Baizley, Baroness In August 2012, a month after the release of their ambitious and well-executed double album Yellow & Green, Georgian sludge rockers Baroness were involved in a terrifying bus crash in Bath, England. Travelling from Southampton to the next show in very heavy rain, which seriously affected visibility, Baroness's tour bus careened through a guardrail and plunged 30 feet off a viaduct.
It’s remarkable that Baroness is still a band, really. While on tour in England in 2012, only a month after the group released its mammoth double album Yellow & Green, the Savannah foursome suffered what seemed a fateful accident when its bus plowed through a guardrail and plummeted 30 feet. Fortunately all survived, but founding member, frontman, and cover-art artist John Baizley broke his left arm and leg and bassist Matt Maggioni and drummer Allen Blickle fractured vertebrae.