If you buy one album out this week, make it...

Riff. Sooo much riff. Brooding fuzz and intelligent emotion as well, but the riff… Existing Baroness fan or total newbie, you should definitely own it. Given the trauma the alt-metallers from Savannah, Georgia have been through, it could have all gone very differently.

Three years ago, Baroness almost died when their bus plummeted from a viaduct near Bath. Nobody was killed, mercifully, but nine people were hurt and everyone was obviously thoroughly shaken. Two of their number suffered spinal injuries and left the following year. It could easily have spelt the end for them.

Except it didn’t. Following their period of recovery, they clearly decided to grab life (and music) by the balls. They enlisted new members, scheduled gigs and, perhaps most significantly, made a career-topping fourth album. Purple emphatically strides and punches through riff after bloody enormous riff – each packed in with stoner intensity and articulate, gut-grabbing lyrics.

Just the titles give a good indication of the soul-bearing heaviness inside – Desperation Burns, Kerosene, Chlorine And Wine… In less adept hands, these could just be ingredients for a really depressing party. But the dominating vibe of Purple is ultimately uplifting. From the groovy bulldozer opening of Morningstar, there’s an immense, galloping-against-the-odds spirit at work. The likes of Chlorine And Wine are fired up with powerfully untamed lines like “she pushes the pills deep in my eyes”, while Fugue creates a beautiful instrumental moment – topped with grungy yet searingly melodic twin lead guitar. If you need a beefy metal pick-me-up, with brains and originality, this is it.

IYBOAOTWMI will be off next week, revelling in festive excess, so for now it only remains to bid you all a very happy christmas. Eat and drink extravagantly, and maybe stick on some Baroness/Iron Maiden/Clutch/Faith No More/insert-great-band-of-2015-here in the middle of your Christmas playlist. Or I Am Santa by The Darkness.

Whatever you do, have a good ‘un.

Polly Glass
Deputy Editor, Classic Rock

Polly is deputy editor at Classic Rock magazine, where she writes and commissions regular pieces and longer reads (including new band coverage), and has interviewed rock's biggest and newest names. She also contributes to Louder, Prog and Metal Hammer and talks about songs on the 20 Minute Club podcast. Elsewhere she's had work published in The Musician, delicious. magazine and others, and written biographies for various album campaigns. In a previous life as a women's magazine junior she interviewed Tracey Emin and Lily James – and wangled Rival Sons into the arts pages. In her spare time she writes fiction and cooks.