Stone is Baroness‘ sixth album and their first to eschew the color palette titles of their past albums. It’s also their first with a complete lineup intact from a previous record. 2019’s Gold & Grey was their most elaborate album to date, one that followed one their easiest to digest in the form of Purple. Which of these forms will a new record take on? How will the band sound with their newfound lineup stability?
Beginning with the quick intro “Embers,” the album jumps into “Last Word” and you begin to get a sense that Baroness would be taking things back to the overall simplicity of their Purple record, less a fair amount of grandiosity from the Gold & Grey sessions. This is a track that fans of the band should latch onto right away and one that has an equal bit of instrumentation going on from John Baizley and Gina Gleason’s guitars to Nick Jost’s bass to Sebastian Thomson’s hypnotic drumming, helping make sure that each member has their collective say.
Moving to “Beneath The Rose,” there is a larger sense of heaviness from the outset, then moving to a softer side for the chorus making for an interesting juxtaposition of styles; a sense of their sludgy start put up against their more rock focused aesthetics of late. Gina Gleason’s solos add the right amount of flair to a number of these songs without overtly taking center stage.
After a bit of freeform noodling on “Choir” and “The Dirge,” “Anodyne” is one of the most stripped-down tracks of the album, hearkening back to the band’s days of yore when all that was present were the band’s limitations. This is all done intentionally, as Baroness refuse to forget where they have come from and what they’ve gone through. The longest track on the album is “Magnolia” which opens up with Baizley and Gleason singing together like a couple of acoustic guitarists at a coffee shop, vocally playing towards the ethereal in its simplicity allowing the band an opening to come in with a massive riff upon the introductory portion’s exit.
Being able to pivot on a dime like that shows the care and curation of the album from a songwriting perspective, one that Baroness are able to do easily. Having the same personnel this time around seems to allow for more internal trust from within the band to take a song in a different direction.
Baroness have done a masterful job of toeing the line between grandeur and modesty on Stone. Never do you feel that this album is full of fluff or itself, there is a mix of everything they have ever done with a sense of unity from within the band that was lacking in their earliest days.
Once again a well-oiled machine, Baroness are masters of their craft and Stone is just the next chapter for a band that refuses to be pigeonholed as anything other than themselves. A supremely simple, yet complex affair for the band, Stone forms the bedrock for the future of Baroness and rock music overall.
(released September 15, 2023 on Abraxan Hymns)
Heavy Music HQ Rating:
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