Baroness “Yellow And Green”/Otter Creek Black IPA

THE RECORD:

Baroness “Yellow and Green”

2012 Relapse Records

I really do love everything about Baroness. Starting with their packaging. All of their artwork is done by their own John Dyer Baizley. He also does artwork for a slew of other great bands. Check  out his art blog if you’re unfamiliar. I picked up this record on yellow and green marbled vinyl. A record that cool-looking already catches my eye and I want to like it before I even put the needle down.

First off, it’s the band’s first double album. It’s not an incredibly long double album, however. Both records combined are only about 75 minutes long. Some people might argue that because of its relatively short length, this record should be one album. I disagree; while some of the songs maintain a certain underlying theme throughout both records, each has its own unique sound that deserves to get showcased.

Yellow really gets things off to a rockin’ start. It has the hooks and the single “Take My Bones Away”, along with single-worth tracks like “March To The Sea” and “Eula”. I work in sound, so production details sometimes stick out more to me- I think the vocal mix sounds perfect on this record. Because there is less of the growling, screaming vocals found on previous records, the vocal mix is a lot more important on this one. They definitely nail it.

Green seems more introspective, and allows a lot of the detailed, guitar work to shine through. I know it’s not very metal of me to say, but I actually thought there were a lot of parts to Green that sounded like they would belong on a math rock record. Metal and math rock aren’t usually found in the same sentence, but this record proves that they can have a lot in common. The technical guitar playing is shown more so on Green than the hooks and riffs that are prevalent on Yellow.

Both records kick off with a “theme” corresponding to the color. This really sets up the record, and works especially well for Yellow. I thought it was much more effective to start with the theme, rather than just jumping in to single “Take My Bones Away”.

THE BEER:

Otter Creek Black IPA

Otter Creek Brewing Company- Middlebury, VT

I really like black IPAs; as a lover of stouts and darker lagers, black IPAs offer characteristics that are familiar to me (sweetness, full body), with the malty, bitter flavor of an IPA.

This beer doesn’t disappoint on those notes. It’s appearance is super dark, almost opaque in the glass. It has a really lovely tan head that is not super thick, and does not linger very long. This beer uses Apollo, Centennial, and Citra hops with caramel malts, which provides a really nice contrast when drinking. Citrus and caramel don’t seem like they would work together but on this brew it’s just right.

At 6% ABV, it’s right in the middle as well, so you can easily have more than one without feeling overpowered by the alcohol content. Too often with delicious stouts the alcohol content is so high, and the body of the beer itself is too big to enjoy more than one. The finish on this Black IPA is so smooth, despite how dark it is. It really does seem more on par with a stout than an IPA. Those IPA fans looking for something with more bitterness may be skeptical, but, like most beers, it is worth trying at least once.

THE PAIRING:

In general, I do not tend to be a fan of bitter, malty IPAs, although I have been experimenting with them a bit more to find some that I enjoy. On that note, I would pair the Otter Creek Black IPA with “Yellow And Green”. I’ve become much more versed and a bigger fan of metal over the past several years. However, much like my opinion of IPAs, I did not immediately fall in love with metal and it took me a few bands to get me into it.

This record appeals to metal heads and non-metal heads alike. Just like OC Black IPA appeals to IPA-lovers and non-IPA lovers too. Even Pitchfork reviewed Yellow and Green. I think it makes a statement as you don’t generally see that many metal records getting written up in there, and that site is a reliable source to so many people. I love that this record is crossing over from loud rock stations into college radio too.

The record is accessible too. It was streaming on so many sites the week it came out, it was so easy to check it out right away. At least here in New England, Otter Creek is a pretty accessible craft brewing company too. The Black IPA seems to be one of their flagship brews, and in that way, I would not be upset if Baroness became a flagship band to get more people into metal.

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