Baroness / Royal Thunder - live in Pawtucket (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Baroness / Royal Thunder

live in Pawtucket (2013)

live show

Baroness built a bearded following on their sludge metal-laden stoner rock for several simple-titled EPs and color-themed albums. It was definitely a sound I followed closely and enjoyed, believing them to be one of the better (and perhaps one of the few) bands doing such a thing. But Yellow & Green, essentially the band's Black Album (in multiple ways), made me a committed fan. So it was with delight that the rising favorites of blogs everywhere were to play The Met in Pawtucket with an arsenal of those songs in the setlist. I'd missed them play Club Royale in Boston that past Sunday, being at This Is Hardcore in Philadelphia all weekend, but the comparative intimacy of the Providence-area venue made up for the doubly long drive.

First up was the three-piece Royal Thunder, who played stadium- and classic-tinged progressive metal/rock. While it wasn't anything I'd be inclined to listen to outside of the venue, their performance was impressive, tightly played, and responded to quite well by the somewhat older audience, who howled their approval quite loudly after a few more gnarly songs. Frontwoman/bassist Mlny Parsonz had a pretty killer voice, too; I'm thinking like Janis Joplin, but with deeper range.

They were a great warmup to Baroness, fitting the show well stylistically while offering something a little different. Baroness came on to a very warm response. It felt sort of triumphant, with the returning to the touring circuit from much-talked-about, debilitating bus crash in England last year (a lyric like "Now it's time for medication" really took on a new light). They have a new rhythm section as a result, and while one could tell that they're still tightening things down (it was hard to tell if they were just off time at certain moments or deliberately syncopating), the set was ferocious and professional enough to enjoy outright. You'd also think a band of that style would be inclined to draw out the songs with noodling and overlong sections, but that was thankfully not the case at all.

They banged out a few "hits" right away by playing Blue Record's "Ogeechee Hymnal" and then running through "Take My Bones Away" and "March to the Sea." There was little resistance from there, with the band bridging songs with quick interludes and brief, friendly acknowledgement of the audience. It was almost distracting how much John Baizley reminded me vocally of James Hetfield at times, but it was all good.

The setlist was basically just what I wanted to hear: lots of Yellow & Green (especially the seriously excellent "Sea Lungs") with older stuff sprinkled in. In fact, the set itself was long enough to still include half of 2009's Blue Record, with the lone Red Album inclusion closing the whole show down.

The decidedly non-traditional metal-looking crowd spent most of the set politely headbanging and fist-raising along, but some thrashy mosh around the front suddenly and unexpectedly bubbled over later in the set, much to the chagrin of some other attendees. But regardless of unwanted contact, everyone quite clearly enjoyed this set immensely.

Set list (9:44-10:58):

Ogeechee Hymnal
Take My Bones Away
March to the Sea
A Horse Called Golgotha
Little Things
Green Theme
Swollen and Halo
Board Up the House
Sea Lungs
The Line Between
The Gnashing
Encore (10:59-11:14):
The Sweetest Curse
Jake Leg