Baroness
Stone


3.9
excellent

Review

by figurehead of "built different" EMERITUS
September 23rd, 2023 | 75 replies


Release Date: 09/15/2023 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Turn to stone, when ya comin' home

Stone marks a fresh start for Baroness. Specifically, it heralds an in-house production job promising more punch and sonic definition after two albums marred by overly-compressed, overdriven timbral clutter, and a break from the color-coded album titles stretching from their 2007 debut Red Album to their divisive 2019 double-LP Gold & Grey. Though much of this album does, as a matter of fact, find the band reassessing what a new Baroness album means as they round the two-decade mark, just as much finds them as firmly and comfortably in their wheelhouse as ever. There's the scantily-clad women wreathed in flora and fauna on the cover, there's those angular downtuned riffs and throaty hollered hooks on lead single "Last Word", there's, for the first time, the very same lineup of musicians that delivered the album prior. So maybe the more appropriate angle is Baroness, revamped: a band less concerned with charting virgin sonic territory than integrating a steady drip of novelty into a pocket they've already spent years establishing for themselves.

Nervy, intricate performances by drummer Sebastian Thomson and bassist Nick Jost are Stone's ace in the hole, as on "Last Word"'s urgent chorus or "Choir"'s crisp motorik groove. The duo are the foremost benefactors of the mix's increased clarity, finally able to fully shine as what may well be the most purely talented rhythm section Baroness has had yet, capable of elevating moments of blunt hard rock and more pensive ambience alike with playing that's busy and involved while remaining in service of the overall song. John Baizely's trademark bellow shows up in quite fine form across the album too, most notably on "Magnolia" and in the back half of "Under the Wheel". Though mileage will doubtless continue to vary re: his tries at more measured crooning (hey, remember "Steel that Sleeps the Eye"?) and spoken word (hey, remember "O'er Hell and Hide"?), he remains magnetic enough as a performer to act as Stone's raw, beating heart; "Magnolia" in particular features some of his fiercest vocal work in years, made all the more satisfying by the way it bursts forth from the track's initial tranquility.

Also back from the early days: nonsense lyrics! If you're a stickler for fully cogent uses of terms such as "anodyne" and "oubliette", turn back now. Not that Baizely doesn't still manage a few genuinely interesting couplets— we are drowning in paradise, I guess we'll need a deeper gutter / a higher levee, to slow this tide gets my vote for hardest hit in the feels, and the album's spackling of resigned glances at deaths and setting suns gives it a simple-but-welcome throughline of making peace with yourself and your limits as you age. Overall, though, the "rule of cool" is once more at the forefront, with flaming arrows and molten-wax teeth populating the album's poetry largely on the strength of the isolated images they conjure. Point is, words serve melody and rhythm more often than metaphor here, and especially given the cheesetastically heartsome emphasis placed on a select few unfortunate lines (better late than forever?) it can be a tough sell at a few points. Keep the ol' focus on those guitars and that drumming, though, and you'll be as happy a camper as I!

But also: newness! Though they’re both literally and figuratively a very different band then they were in 2010, Baroness’s first two albums of vein-bursting progressive sludge metal still loom large over their discography, and for as gamely as Stone keeps its debt to those albums on its most straightforward rockers, it's at its most refreshing when it manages to get a bit of distance from the band's usual approach. This novelty is, appropriately, centralized around the band's newest member, guitarist and vocalist Gina Gleason. You want a searing technical showcase? Look no further than her gnarly solo bisecting "Last Word", a bracing "WOW" moment from an act typically reluctant to stray from full-band cohesion. You want elaboration on their perennially-underestimated soft side? Closer "Bloom" may just be their finest all-acoustic hour yet, awash in warm pastoral arpeggios that perfectly match the weary return-to-the-hearth of the lyrics. Gleason's singing leads the way with a gentle flexibility that Baizely, for all his strengths as a frontman, has never quite managed; I certainly won't be complaining if she gets more opportunities to take center stage vocally in the future. You want, um… a Deftones song, for some reason? "Under the Wheel"'s queasy melody, undulating chugs, and synth-assisted dissonant outro have all the makings to win hearts amongst the alt-metal set. Sure, not every idea totally pans out– "Beneath the Rose"'s blend of spoken verses and belted choruses scans as less seamless than the band seemingly presumes, and "Anodyne" doesn't exactly do a whole lot of anything– but the new directions explored here ring overall much more decisive than on the psychedelic haze of Gold and Grey.

For all its proofs that the band does in fact have musical avenues yet to be exhausted of potential, Stone ultimately still strikes me as an album for the fans. The band (and mix) sounds healthy and reinvigorated, the tracklist covers a fair range of sounds, and at the end of the day, it's still every inch a Baroness album. We have nowhere left to run, after all. So don't call it a comeback— this album succeeds by returning the band to the places they've always been, experimenting from the comfort of the music they know best and with a welcome upgrade in fidelity and focus to boot. It's no flawless triumph, and as a long time superfan myself, I can't give anything close to an objective worth-your-time-or-not. All I can say is that it feels good to be home.



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3.6
great
other reviews of this album
bananatossing (4)
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Kompys2000
Emeritus
September 23rd 2023


9471 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

If anyone complains about production in this thread im deleting ur comment just let me have this

MeatSalad
September 23rd 2023


18637 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

The production is



Fine!

DDDeftoneDDD
September 23rd 2023


22427 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

You said fine?



🤔🫡

Odal
Staff Reviewer
September 23rd 2023


2213 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah, I'm happy they finally took a step in the right direction with that.



I'm finding this an odd album to rate as I think it's probably more consistent than Gold & Grey, but I still prefer that album's ambition more. Overall, I'm still pretty impressed with this band for continuing to trend upward after how boring and bland I found Purple. They are certainly aging a lot more gracefully than I thought. To me, this kinda feels like an alternative-dimension's sequel to Blue in that it kinda feels like a quick and cohesive jam.



Magnolia is such a heater

DDDeftoneDDD
September 23rd 2023


22427 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yap blue is their record. Will check this, tks

bananatossing
September 23rd 2023


2348 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Fantastic. Much better than my review. I have to say their lyrics are harmless, not terrible but nothing special either. I never saw them as a point of criticism.

Mongi123
September 23rd 2023


22036 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Don’t get this band. I enjoy Red but everything else I’ve heard is so bland

Odal
Staff Reviewer
September 23rd 2023


2213 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I do love this band and everything that they've done except Purple, but I do think they are a tad overhyped from normies. How "Shock Me" won a grammy is lost on me because that is legitmately one of, if not their worst song.

Kompys2000
Emeritus
September 23rd 2023


9471 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

It was only nominated actually



lost to fucking megadeth's anti immigrant song

Kompys2000
Emeritus
September 23rd 2023


9471 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

also wow lol the pitchfork review for this taking no prisoners



not a bad writeup or anything just kinda funny after they gargled JDB's balls for gold & grey

FrozenFirebug
September 23rd 2023


920 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

magnolia and under the wheel are good

and uh

magnolia and under the wheel are good

WatchItExplode
September 24th 2023


10472 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Glad to see this. Finally got a review. Sums up nicely why I've had it on repeat for weeks now.

hel9000
September 24th 2023


1547 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Gina should 100% just be their main vocalist at this point

chronoclast
September 24th 2023


49 Comments


The production is better…so there’s that.

Flugmorph
September 24th 2023


34542 Comments


finally, reviews.

CugnoBrasso
September 24th 2023


2752 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Are you guys just going to ignore my incredible list in which I unravel the mysteries behind the quantum entanglement between the Baroness discography and Paper Mario games?

CamiloG
September 25th 2023


3035 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Nice review… finally! Album is definitely a step in the right direction

Dedes
Contributing Reviewer
September 25th 2023


10094 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Is it odd if the guitar work in the end of "Beneath the Rose" gives me a weird Touche Amore vibe??? Like right around 4 minutes in?

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
September 25th 2023


32053 Comments


Nice review Komp, their best since... I don't know, I don't remember the other ones.

Butkuiss
September 25th 2023


7223 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Gina, Nick and Seb are probably the best band Baizley has ever put together but honestly this may be the first Baroness record I just don’t bother with. Little to no interest in being frustrated by squandered potential again.



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