Ascending the throne

with Torche, Iron Age,
Dark Castle
8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 10
The Social, 407-246-1419


Isolation is often a spur to inspiration, whether it's hours spent alone in a bedroom or years growing up in a small town near the West Virginia—Virginia border. Though exciting alt-metal troupe Baroness came to life in Savannah, Ga., its origins go back to Lexington, Va., where all of its past and present members grew up and bonded over music.

"We were the kids that listened to punk rock. We were the kids that didn't dress like cowboys," says guitarist John Baizley from his Savannah studio. "Despite some discrepancies in our age, I think people who have that kind of mindset in towns like that tend to gravitate to one another."

After dropping out of the Rhode Island School of Design, Baizley settled in Savannah, where two of his hometown friends, Peter Adams and Tim Loose, were stationed nearby in the military. Inspired by the post-millennial bloom of post-metal acts, Baizley and Adams began making music together obsessively in 2002. When Adams was deployed, Loose stepped in and the band began to coalesce around a couple of other old Lexington friends who'd played with the guys in an incestuous string of bands over the years.

They released three EPs during their first several years of existence, culminating in 2007's Red Album. Hailed by Revolver as the album of the year, it melded a variety of influences with shredding solos, melodic post-punk riffs and chewy math rock structures, invoking everyone from Isis and Neurosis to Built to Spill and Sunny Day Real Estate. Full of rich texture, crushing power and limber sonic theatrics, it was a terrific debut that elevated them to the top of the art-rock heap.

The raised stakes didn't bother Baroness so much as inspire them. "We had to set the bar to a level that we thought was a little too high for us, and then just go for it," says Baizley.

The result was Blue Record, which exceeds the expectations created by its predecessor. It's an eclectic, flowing album of dynamic tones and crisp musicianship, helmed by producer John Congleton (Explosions in the Sky, St. Vincent), a choice dictated by his work on one of the band's favorite albums, Black Mountain's In the Future. It succeeds as a sequenced whole, rather than on the basis of any particular songs. "We almost didn't have the album written when the sequencing was drafted," says Baizley.

The album marks the return of Adams on guitar and features an astounding variety of sounds — including, on "Blackpowder Orchard," finger-picked bluegrass, a return to Baizley's long-ignored roots.

"I was kind of hesitant to put it on the record because I didn't know that it would fit, but the further we got into it the more I realized this was a perfect counterpoint to other textures on the record that were the total opposite," says Baizley.

Baroness' ability to seamlessly meld a broad swath of influences engenders music that unfolds more facets with each listen, and has established them as one of the most exciting acts to emerge in the last few years.

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