There’s something in the water in Savannah, Georgia, home to the two metal bands on the A Grey Sigh in a Flower Husk split CD. Whether both Baroness and Unpersons are drinking it is another matter.
It seems like every recent Relapse signee is influenced by either Mastodon or Isis, and Baroness (whose Relapse debut is scheduled to emerge late this year) makes my job easy by cribbing from both. Opener “Teiresias” perfectly mimics Mastodon’s lumbering roar and twin-guitar progginess; the twelve-minute “Cavite” rides the line between influence and piracy by directly jacking at least three important riffs from Isis’s Oceanic and connecting each of them with the watery ambience of the same album. Baroness’s two tracks are full of top-notch performances, especially from drummer Allen Blickle and lead growler John Baizley. That might make up for the lack of originality — a quality that’s hard to come by in a genre as obsessed with extremity as metal is — but Baroness leaves us with very little it can call its own.
Though you wouldn’t know it from the band’s name, Unpersons has a hell of a lot more personality than the band that precedes it here. The four tracks constituting the band’s “Un Cerceuil Flottant (A Floating Coffin)” suite finds a rowdy bunch of punks running with scissors through a metallicized noise ghetto, led by babble-spouting madman Sanders (one name only) doing his spot-on David Yow impression. The hardcore bashing of “Black Finnegan” and surging, Drive Like Jehu-style bile on “Dry Hand” match Sanders’s schizophrenic performance art poetry turn for turn. Unpersons spit out dissonant riffs that slice each other up and then dissolve into electric crackle, still sparking after they die out. These four tracks are less overtly metal than Baroness’s contributions. They’re also a hell of a lot more fun.