After releasing records called Red Album, Blue Record, Yellow & Green, Purple, and Gold & Grey, Baroness has run out of colors. “The chromatic-themed sector of our existence was only ever going to have those iterations,” guitarist, vocalist, and founding member John Baizley tells Apple Music. “It was only ever going to be the color wheel, the rainbow. When we finished Gold & Grey, which was our stand-in for orange, we understood it was the end of the cycle.” Thus, Stone begins a new era for the band and their self-described style of “sneaky prog,” which combines elements of sludge metal, prog rock, and western-themed acoustic music. It’s also the first Baroness full-length in the band’s 20-year history that features the same lineup as the one before it. In this case: Baizley, guitarist/vocalist Gina Gleason, bassist Nick Jost, and drummer Sebastian Thomson. “I can’t even begin to overstate how critical that lineup stability was for us writing this record,” Baizley says. “What we’ve never been able to do before is take the chemistry of the band members and allow it to guide the songwriting as much as we have with Stone. There’s always been a new member coming in who has to learn what we are. But now I feel like we finally have a foundation.” Below, he discusses each track. “Embers” “After we recorded all the ‘loud’ songs, meaning anything with bass and drums, we realized the acoustic element which is on all our records was missing. So Gina and I rented a trailer in central Pennsylvania and spent a week working. We came out with ‘Bloom,’ the last track on the record, which has a closing-credits feel, and I wanted something with an opening-credits feel as well. So we took an outtake from the ‘Bloom’ session, a short piece that didn’t have any mistakes in it, and I added some low notes on my piano that I think give it a kind of menacing feel. It’s a nice bait and switch for the opening of ‘Last Word.’” “Last Word” “This song is by far our most collaborative recorded effort in our entire history. Everyone’s written a part for it. It also has a fucking shredder solo, which is something I’ve always had a very hard line against in this band. But that got harder and harder to do when Gina joined, because she has tremendous capability as a soloist. I really put her through the wringer on our last record, so this time she needed to be free. Importantly, it also has an improvised jam at the end of the song, which we began doing onstage years ago and felt, with this record, that we had earned the right to present to our audience.” “Beneath the Rose” “The opening riff was something I continually tried to make a song out of for Gold & Grey, but it just wasn’t working. In the early days of the pandemic, I pulled it out again and put it to a drum loop that Seb had recorded. I really wanted to do something that had a Nirvana-type riff, something with some pronounced chugging in it, a little bit of metal swagger, a little bit sort of rock. But whenever I say these things, I just turn it into a song that sounds exactly like us. It was fun to write, but one of the hardest to figure out what I was going to do with vocally. What I ended up with includes a relatively different vocal style for us, almost like an English poetic cadence. I think it kicked off the development of a new aesthetic that continues into the following track.” “Choir” “The idea with this, initially, was to take the tempo and the key from ‘Beneath the Rose’ and then start with the guitar sonata that ends that song. But we had no other plan beyond that. What we ended up with is like an extension of ‘Beneath the Rose,’ but fully improvised. We had no discussion about what we were going for or what we were going to do. Every single thing that happens in this song is accidental. I think we recorded three versions, but the first one was by far the best because of the musical conversation that’s happening.” “The Dirge” “This is the final and shortest piece of the musical trilogy that starts with ‘Beneath the Rose.’ Gina and I were really into this Amps for Christ song called ‘Edward,’ which has this very strange, disoriented, lo-fi feel to it. It’s really loose, but it’s like a beautiful little folk song. We wanted to capture something that had that feel. I was sitting in my room one night, watching a TV show, and there was a scene where two girls are singing a song at an open-mic night. It’s not a good song, not a good show, but I liked the chord progression. So I took those chords and wrote this in a minute and a half. I think it’s a weird, unique bow at the end of our trilogy.” “Anodyne” “This is the only song we've ever written that has a four-on-the-floor kick pattern and a backbeat snare. It’s a tried-and-true classic in rock ’n’ roll, but we've never done it. And then Gina and I are singing simultaneously into one mic, so we’re baking our harmonies into one another, making them inseparable. The lyrics are based on a recurring nightmare I’ve had for many years now. In the dream, I’m in a canoe on a lake in the middle of the night. I’m following another canoe that outdistances me, and then I start sinking. Sometimes I have entire dreams where I’m just drowning for what seems like eight hours. I felt like writing a song about it so that the dream doesn’t feel that horrible to me.” “Shine” “I was crossing over the Brooklyn Bridge on my way to see Seb or Nick, and the song ‘#3’ by Aphex Twin came on, and I had such an overwhelming moment. It’s a very beautiful song, and it’s simple—like four notes that just repeat. So I took those notes and made them into ‘Shine.’ Gina and I really like playing western-style guitars, like Ennio Morricone tones, so the end of this song is like us trying to find our own way through Once Upon a Time in the West. Every record of ours has to have a glockenspiel on it, so this is the song with the glock.” “Magnolia” “The main riff has what I call the human element in it, by which I mean the best technical riffing that we do as guitar players always has this implicant strum. Plus, every record I do has to have one Neurosis moment, and it’s always from ‘Stones From the Sky,’ which is by far my favorite Neurosis song. So we did that at the end of the song, where we layered all these crazy guitars. It’s called ‘Magnolia’ because the day I began writing it in 2020, the magnolia tree in front of my house was blooming. When we finished guitar overdubs a year later, it was blooming again. And when I finished vocals the year after that, it was blooming yet again.” “Under the Wheel” “This is a song that Nick wrote. And when Nick writes a song, I know that we’re going to have to work to decipher it, because the level of sophistication that he thinks at is insane. He’s a classically trained bass player, but his goal is never to sound like he's being showy. So he’ll write these simple-sounding things that are, in reality, almost impossible to follow until you’ve listened to it a hundred times or had him show it to you a hundred times. But that challenge was really cool. Then we did this thing where the song gets louder every few measures and the pressure we’re playing at increases. That was really fun to do.” “Bloom” “‘Bloom’ was recorded during one of the most difficult weeks of my life during this writing session. It was, in some ways, tied to what was going on then, which is that we had our whole record musically recorded but I was really struggling to find myself as a vocalist. That’s when Gina and I rented that trailer, ostensibly to start working on vocals, but I was just struggling. After a day or two of that, we picked up our acoustic guitars and wrote this song based off a piece that Gina had. Then we recorded it outside by the campfire, facing each other, into a single mic. You can hear dogs barking, the fire crackling, all kinds of birds chirping. And then we added all these crazy overdubs using mostly things that are not instruments. I think the song is kind of a strange triumph for us.”

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