Truth be told, we fell out of love with Baroness a little while back. No particular reason. No one did anything wrong. Our relationship had just run its’ course. Let’s just call it a “conscious uncoupling” and leave it at that, okay? Cut to last year while attending a Lamb Of God show that featured a stacked line up which included, you guessed it, Baroness. Maybe it was because they were opening for bands like LOG and Killswitch Engage but that set was a fiery reminder of what initially tuned us into the Philadelphia-based quartet so when a new album was announced earlier this year our interest was pretty, pretty piqued. And upon hearing said new record let’s just say that if you, like us, had left the Baroness fold, now might be the time to rethink that decision.
But onto STONE!
Overall it’s the perfect balance of that raw ferocity from earlier releases slightly tempered by age and maturity and the more expansive songwriting of later releases. “Embers” begins the sonic sojourn of STONE in the most beautiful way as serene guitar lines and vocal harmonies cascade across the speakers but by no means prepare listeners for what’s to come. What’s to come really begins with “Last Word” which is one of the shreddiest things that Baroness has laid to tape since the onset of the “Colors” albums. The rhythm section of bassist Nick Jost and drummer Sebastian Thomson is as in synch here and throughout as the pair of vocalist/guitarist John Baizley and guitarist Gina Gleason is to bring listeners a rip-roarin’ yet grand opening filled with sweeping vocal lines and a soaring atmosphere.
“Beneath The Rose” is a galloping giant, glowing and constantly growing with Baizley switching between a Jim Morrison meets Henry Rollins spoken word-style to a commanding bark while crushing riffs swirl and are interspersed by glistening moments of mesmerizing acoustic guitars with “Choir” bleeding out of the sonic carnage left behind for a gnarly ditty that sees Baizley experimenting more vocally on this thumping aural adventure. “The Dirge” flows out of that, offering a solemn reprieve from the epicness with a mid-album hymnal to cleanse the palette before “Anodyne” careens our way next with a steady stomp from Thomson and a hypnotic riff cycle from Gleason and Baizley that’s like a modern take out of the house that Josh Homme built Queens Of The Stone Age with.
“Shine” is a nice anthem and another recent reminder of what a gargantuan add Gina Gleason was and continues to be with lush vocal harmonies adding so much more to the already vibrant modern Baroness sound. “Magnolia” is big and bold, easing listeners with a minute and a half of softer sanguine songwriting before the big blow up occurs and Baizley croons amongst a drum, bass, and guitar symphony that truly rawks for almost eight minutes. Similarly, “Under The Wheel” is a bit of a spiritual experience that’s a harmonious slow burn drifting along for over six breutiful (Again kiddies, that’s “brutal” + “beautiful”) minutes before album ender “Bloom” quietly closes STONE and pairs with “Embers” nicely to gorgeously bookend this masterful sixth stroke in the Baroness discography.
STONE is out on September 15th through Abraxan Hymns in a PLETHORA of options with different limited vinyl variations for EACH SONG! You read that right: at least 10 different vinyl versions are up for pre-sale now (We went with “Last Word” ourselves) along with some more standard fare which you can peruse and potentially purchase here bundled with all the pertinent social media links so you can find out where to catch Baroness live on their upcoming Fall tour.