This album, to pinch a phrase from Hendrix, steals and swells in like the first rays of a new rising sun, and much like these rays, heralds a renewed day, tirelessly creative and ambitious in its exploration of unmapped, exciting territory.
A groove–heavy, humid sludge album with sophisticated song writing, The Red Album possesses a sense of the epic, largely inspired by nature’s vast scale. Purposeful, accomplished and never hurried, thick veins of psychedelia flow through unpredictable song structures, carving out aural landscapes; barely a headbang is to be had, yet this album is heavy as a mountain of iron. The guitars burst and break, flourishing, weaving and overlapping, utilising plenty of pleasingly tactile tones as they play off each other, and the gruff vocals roar with a crusty swagger. A rhythm section full of jazzy sidesteps keeps the pacing lively, and even with many long instrumental sections, it never drags.
Digging into the dense, cryptic bursts of metaphorical lyrics, the concept of the discovery of a new, unsettled land emerges. Given Baroness’ Appalachians roots, it is tempting to think that this discovery would be that of America (at least, its discovery by European settlers), but this is not necessarily the case, especially given the broad symbolism that runs throughout this album. The story is that of an unsettled land being discovered, explored, harnessed and civilised (in one sense of the word) by those looking to make a new home. Mountains are climbed, rivers are paddled, and a city is born, along with language and culture. Life and death take place in the natural order of things, as part of a journey and adventure. There is a stronger narrative than this description suggests, but it is also far more nuanced, with lots of cues within the music. The journey ends on the triumphant note of Grad, which grows from a volume swell very similar to the intro of Rays On Pinion, creating a subtle sense of then and now, into a flourishing riff, which builds into a rousing finalé.
More so than being a good–time, easy–going listen, this is an album steeped in nature, wandering through hills, fields and forests, gazing over panoramas, awake and already walking in the first rays of the new rising sun.