I held great anticipation for this album, in particular after hearing the first single “Chlorine and Wine.” That epic piece teased at what a giant the next album would surely be. And as it turns out, the release did not disappoint (sort of).
Purple is the first album Baroness has released since the debilitating bus accident they suffered in England while on tour--soon followed by the rhythm section bailing out completely. There's no doubt that remaining members John Baizley and Peter Adams had something to prove. And prove they did. The songs are beautifully written, adding intricately detailed parts that are impossible to categorize in any one genre. Pink Floyd, Metallica, Thin Lizzy, Queen, and unclassifiable alternative tossed around elegantly in a rock fusion that is complimented perfectly with Baizley's always-ridiculously gorgeous cover art. I believe this album will appeal to both new and old fans alike. However, do note that the tunes that reside within the grooves of Purple are a bit more radio-friendly than some of their earlier releases. Nevertheless, that doesn't make Purple any less original or any less rockin'.
Now for the bad. There is one significant complaint that I just can't refrain from voicing and that is the over-compressed production reminiscent of Metallica’s last release, Death Magnetic—only to the umpteenth degree. Where Metallica's Rubin-produced album held a subtle distorted "hiss" overlying the entire thing, this is much more in your face and it only gets worse as the volume rises. Like framing a Rembrandt in aluminum foil, Purple sports a very subpar production. When you mix the horrid production with such great songwriting, it makes the whole thing a real travesty, ruining an otherwise great album. I’d love to see a re-release of this with a completely different mix. Until then, I’m not sure how much I’ll personally be spinning it other than for some low-volume background music.