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Thursday, September 8, 2016

Beyond the metal box with Baroness and the celestial doom of Pallbearer (The Social)

Posted By on Thu, Sep 8, 2016 at 3:00 PM

click to enlarge Baroness
  • Baroness
Expansive Georgia band Baroness (Sep. 6, The Social) are possibly the most chameleonic metal act in business right now. In fact, that genre can no longer neatly or accurately encompass the sound or ambition of this anything-but-purist group. And that’s made them sort of a slippery band to grasp with firm resolution.
click to enlarge Purple cover art
  • Purple cover art
However, their latest work, 2015’s Purple, has a very notable degree of cohesion and focus, things the band doesn’t necessarily specialize in. Coming off the trauma of the 2012 crash of their tour bus, it could’ve been either bleak or emo. Instead, it’s an album with a resounding sense of triumph, packing a cavalry of anthems whose force comes not from heaviness or aggression but from pure life-affirming vigor. And, live, they were astonishing – clear, dimensional, and with sonics perfectly articulated.

There is a high-stakes kind of defiance and audacity involved in Baroness’ box-breaking ways. A small window of precision can mean the difference between a daring triumph and a fanciful joke. Somehow, though, they manage to mostly stick the landing with a sound that’s both inclusive and bold. Full appreciation of Baroness probably begins with no longer thinking of them as a metal band altogether.
  • Pallbearer
Lauded Arkansas openers Pallbearer, however, are still very metal. And they came much-improved since their previous 2014 performance opening for Deafheaven. Unlike what their unambiguously grim name suggests, their riffs rock from the more clarified, daybreaking side of the doom kingdom. It’s still forlorn – they don’t call it doom for nothing. But in a form that’s famous for its gloom, Pallbearer’s panoramic gaze is set more to the sky than the dark depths of their contemporaries. It’s an epic, soaring sound that lifts even the shadows up to celestial altitudes like the half-speed conjuring of a mountain wizard. And especially live, they’re able to chop out big riffs with bright power tones that reach to the heavens without sacrificing any tonnage. No easy feat, that.


This Little Underground is Orlando Weekly's music column providing perspective, live reviews and news on the city's music scene.

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