Baroness / Torche - live in Chicago (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Baroness / Torche

live in Chicago (2010)

live show

There's something so beautiful in watching a band take the stage in a club that's so packed it's nearly homoerotic and absolutely enjoy every minute that they destroy the stage. Torche took the stage, and for 30 minutes non-stop, the band cranked out super tight sludge riffing topped perfectly with hyper melodic vocals. The whole time, the bass player was losing his shit while the guitarist/singer was doing a happy dance and just vibing the great energy of the crowd.

After 20 minutes, it began to blur into a singular psychedelic wave of sound as the band worked their way through most of Meanderthal. Tracks from In Return were peppered into the set, along with one or two new songs, and when the band finished, it seemed like a tight, well-paced, extremely polished set.

Baroness, on the other hand, wasn't quite as transformative of an experience live. But that's somewhat understandable. Blue Record starts out with a very moving instrumental melodic guitar intro and moves into "The Sweetest Curse" and "Jake Leg," two insanely well-put together songs that explore the band's melodic bent while maintaining their heavy, thudding riffs. The album, however, drops off there. And the same can be said about the band's live show. They began the show the way they begin the album, and those first two tracks were as near a religious experience that anybody can expect from a metal show.

But the band's other material tends to get distracted by the band's desire to lump in guitar heroics with hard rock, and without locking into that heavy metal groove or something extremely melodic, the band just sort of putters out. "A Horse Called Golgotha" when played live still sounds like a track from Castlevania being covered by the Minibosses. It's amazing guitar work, but it does't quite thematically fit with other bits of the album.

When left to their devices playing live, the band has a tendency as well to let their guitar work distract them from progressing into more and more songs. And it's easy to see why: The crowd treats them like rock star gods, and that's a powerful emotion being transmitted to the stage. It's liable to make anybody noodle on for an extra 10 minutes or so.

The hour-long set was revelatory for the band's most hardcore fans, but there was some editing desired for folks who picked up Blue Record and thought there were some great jams on there. That's fine--the band made it perfectly clear who they were playing for, and their crowd ate it up.