I've always been a sucker for the pretty and sophisticated classical-guitar-inspired instrumentals that often appear on otherwise bludgeoning metal albums. Baroness's ambitious third full-length has lots of them, especially on the second of this double album.
But that's about as far as it seems appropriate to take the term "metal." The Savannah, Georgia, four-piece used to trade in sludgy doom and prog but have largely left it behind, drawing instead from melodic hard rock, moody post rock and 90s alt. That'll disappoint many, but you can't deny how interesting some of these dynamic post-rock explorations are.
March To The Sea thrusts ahead on a propulsive beat and fast-fingered guitar work, Twinkler delivers stirring minor-key harmonies, Take My Bones Away and Sea Lungs offer tastes of powerhouse aggression, and the Baroque-ish MOOG on Mtns. (The Crown & Anchor) is a sweet surprise.
That said, John Dyer Baizley's throaty, sometimes flat vocals and angsty lyrics lower the interest factor, and a few tunes are dull (Collapse, Little Things). But that's bound to happen on a 75-minute release.
Top track: March To The Sea