Georgia-based psychedelic rock band (calling them a metal act seems very reductive, though there's some seriously headbangable material on this disc) Baroness has made a subtle but unmistakable evolutionary leap on this, their second full-length and a clear companion piece to 2007's Red Album. It's hard to say exactly what new guitarist Pete Adams has brought to the band after replacing drummer Allen Blickle's brother Brian, but the band's established blend of Southern sludge riffs, druggy instrumental journeys, and melodic interstitial interludes, all propelled by a particularly thudding drum sound and held together by John Baizley's hoarse but clean vocals and gorgeous cover art, are even stronger now than before. The transition from the almost Moody Blues-like "Steel That Sleeps the Eye" into the crunching hard rock epic "Swollen and Halo" is just one example of Baroness' seamless melding of moods through technique and compositional acumen. There are numerous interludes on the disc -- basically, any track shorter than four minutes is an exploration of a riff followed by a dissolve into sound effects or keyboard swooshes, slowly dissolving into the next actual song. "Ogeechee Hymnal," for example, offers one of the album's heaviest riffs, but it's a mere appetizer before "A Horse Called Golgotha," a suitably galloping prog-metal epic that effectively conquers Mastodon's territory, and includes some astonishing guitar leads. This is a ferocious album that's not afraid to be genuinely beautiful.
AllMusic Review by Phil Freeman