US metal staples Baroness have returned with Last Word, their first new material since 2019’s Gold & Grey – and it’s clear the band have been practicing in the intervening years.
Driven by frontman John Baizley and lead guitarist Gina Gleason’s distinctively grinding riffage – a combination of the unconventional-for-metal Rickenbacker and Telecaster tonal pairing – the track is already winning some serious acclaim for Gleason’s astonishing guitar solo.
Soaring to the top of the mix at 2.50, Gleason drops a hybrid-picked fretboard melter that will leave Brent Hinds green with envy, before deploying some modal legato runs that strike the perfect balance between precision-engineered picking and impassioned delivery.
The other crucial element is Gleason’s tone, which typically comes from a classic single-coil Telecaster.
“With a Tele, you get a more surgical tone,” she told Guitar World back in 2020. “I’ve always played Jackson Dinkys or Kramer SM-1s, stuff that had Floyd Roses on them, but it didn’t seem appropriate for learning the back catalog of Baroness songs. I thought I should seek out a Tele just to get a weirder, more interesting tone.”
Last Word is taken from Baroness’s forthcoming sixth album, STONE, which sounds like it will be a varied affair.
“An important through line in Baroness is we don't like to repeat ourselves,” John Baizley explains. "It's all about the willingness to take risks. When I was younger, the whole point of music was to be different, not to do the same thing, and not to listen to parents or play by the rules. That's kind of goofy, but in practice, it works.
“It's really sort of terrifying to be at the sixth record in your career and think that you'll have to keep up with your history rather than continually invent. So, we doubled down on continuously inventing to see where it takes us. I think this record is a good reflection of that. STONE is a lot more alive, more direct.”
The album was recorded in the border town of Barryville, N.Y. and self-produced by the band as they tracked in a vacation rental. Each song was pre-mixed by Baizley, before Joe Barresi (Kyuss, Tool) and mastering engineer Bob Ludwig (Led Zeppelin, Nirvana) gave it the finishing touch.
“I think we were able to strip everything away on this record,” Gleason reasons. “We were unified in that. So, we just jumped in and did our best. That felt really good. It was a really cool, empowering, creative experience.”
STONE is available to preorder now ahead of its release on September 15 via Abraxan Hymns. Baroness will play a seven-week US and Canada tour in support of the record, beginning October 13 in Baltimore, MD – see YourBaroness.com for full dates.
The full tracklisting for STONE is as follows:
- Last Word
- Beneath the Rose
- The Dirge
- Under the Wheel