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  • Writer's pictureThe Metal Mayan

Baroness, Portrayal of Guilt, Gozu @ District Music Hall

At 110 years of age, the building now known as the District Music Hall has been the host of an incredible range of entertainment. From vaudeville in the 1920s, to movies, to plays, residents from Norwalk and all throughout southern Connecticut have a strong bond with the theater spanning generations.

Still, for all its history, heavy music has been a very rare sight to see on the District Music Hall's stage - perhaps in large part due to the venue's proximity to New York City and New Haven where metal, punk, and hardcore is more common. To that point, the excitement of those outside the venue was off the scales as locals and folks traveling from other states came together to welcome Baroness on their Summer Oblivion 2024 tour.

Coming through in support of their most recent release, Stone, which came out last September, the Georgia quartet was joined by Portrayal of Guilt and Gozu, former supporting the entire tour and the latter joining for the first nine shows.

With their impeccable blend of stoner and sludge metal, Boston's Gozu was the perfect choice of bands to start the night off right. As their fifth album, Remedy, celebrated its one year anniversary in mid-May, it was fitting to lead off the set with "Tom Cruise Control", the opening track of the album.

Dialing up the groove in the manner of The Sword and Corrosion of Conformity, "Rambo 2" and "Big Casino" had the audience captivated and swaying in motion with the driving guitars and thundering bass and drums.

Rounding out the newer material with the Down-esque "The Magnificent Muraco" and "CLDZ", longtime fans were treated to "Bald Bull" off 2016's The Fury of a Patient Man.

Having wrapped up their tour with The Obsessed in April, 2024 is a big year for Gozu as they head to Europe in June for a run that concludes with an appearance at Hellfest. Returning to the U.S., the band will bring the low tuned grooves to Ripplefest Texas, Louder Than Life, and Aftershock Fest this autumn.

By far the most extreme band on the bill, Texas trio Portrayal of Guilt pushed the District Music Hall to its limits with their high decibel brand of black metal. With underlying influences from punk, screamo, and grindcore (specifically, Explosions In Ward 6 era Pig Destroyer), the band reached even further into the chaosphere with the noise and feedback infused riffs of "Bed of Ash".

Sparing no time for banter and focusing instead on creating the bleakest, most uncanny environment, even the most seasoned of metalheads in the crowd was left slightly shaken.

Putting in hard work through consistent touring, Portrayal of Guilt's rise through the metal ranks comes at the best possible time as other bands such as Imperial Triumphant challenge the very frame work of black metal and other forms of radical music. For those looking for something between Portal, Code Orange and legendary Japan-noise project Merzbow, Portrayal of Guilt is the the static void that calls to you.

At last, the time had come for Sebastian Thomson's drum fill into "Last Word" as Baroness took the stage to tremendous roars of excitement from the crowd. Even before the set, fans old and new knew to expect flawless chemistry among the band, particularly between John Baizley and Gina Gleason, whose immaculate vocal harmonies, and Gleason's razor sharp solo work, delivered on this expectation and then some.

Slowing down the tempo, though keeping the energy at 13 out of 10, for "Under the Wheel", the clocks were turned back to 2009 with "A Horse Called Golgotha", the first of three songs from Blue Record.

As the opening notes to "March to the Sea" rang out, a powerful silence fell over the crowd for the fan favorite. Perhaps, as time goes by, certain lines from the song such as "Valium - you left me all along" and "Heroin - where did you take my friend?" come to have a bitter feeling of self mortality in them.

Making his way over to his keyboard, bassist Nick Jost kicked off the Grammy nominated and dearly beloved song "Shock Me" off 2015's Purple, which had all of Norwalk singing the chorus.

Nothing his regret that Baroness has not played in Connecticut often in their 21 year career (four times, including this performance, accordingly to Setlist FM, the previous three having been at The Webster Theater in Hartford), Baizley expressed his deepest gratitude and wish to return to the state again soon.

Closing the set with "Take My Bones Away" from 2012's Yellow & Green and "Isak", the only song from the band's 2007 debut full length, Red Album, many remarked on how fitting the District Music Hall was for Baroness, and would be for other heavy bands. To that point, perhaps the city that was once home to the notorious hardcore club, The Anthrax ,will once again breathe life in the Connecticut metal scene in the coming years.

Ticket & photo pass courtesy of Speakeasy PR



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