Album: Gold & Grey
Label: Abraxan Hymns
It’s been 12 years since Baroness started their journey around the colourful shaded wheel. From 2007’s Red Album to modern day Gold & Grey, it’s definitely been a journey for Baizley and his bandmates. The years through which those albums span were marked by global acclaim, stylistic switches, lineup changes, and a bus accident among others. Baizley is the only authentic member from the start of this colourful excursion. As he and Baroness have morphed over the past decade and more, the music they created grew in scale and breadth.
I discovered Baroness while searching for some great ambient sounding guitar pedals and stumbled upon That Pedal Show with guests John Baizley and Gina Gleason. Their sound was a very interesting blend of strange and ambient sounds with hard and heavy guitar riffs.
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The band’s early albums carried a sludgy, weighted-down tone synonymous with their domestic state of Georgia. The more recent years, however, show a shift toward rock, conventional heavy metal, and instrumental experimentation. In the final work of Baroness’ color spectrum, Gold & Grey, Baizley and co. paint the band’s most radiant soundscapes to date.
Among the largest headlines entering Gold & Grey was the addition of Gina Gleason (guitars/vocals) following the departure of Pete Adams in 2017. Her addition, alongside the return of Nick Jost (bass/keys) and Seb Thomson (drums), provided Baizley with maximum potential talent to tap into under the Baroness name. While the album’s length may at first seem overly long, it is not a double-album like its 2012 predecessor, Yellow and Green, clocking at an hour in length and padded by a variety of 1-2 minute long tracks.
Baizley and Gleason‘s vocal harmonies make tracks like “I’d Do Anything,” “Emmett-Radiating Light,” and “Cold Blooded Angels” exceptionally poignant. The pairing of the former’s deeper snarl and the latter’s higher sound creates an even more forceful feel than on previous albums. This approach is evident on nearly every song on the album in some capacity.
It isn’t just the vocal harmonies that add intensity to Gold & Grey though. The instrumental variety Baroness covers on the album continues to expand. Jost’s background in jazz as well as his keyboard contributions, together with Baizley’s synths, bells, and chimes, craft Gold & Grey‘s gleaming interludes like “Sevens” or “Blankets of Ash,” as well as undertones of atmosphere, like in the heart-wrenching “Tourniquet.”
“Throw Me an Anchor” and “Broken Halo” sound easily as though they could have come from the Red Album (2007) or Blue Record (2009). However, Thomson breaks out the blastbeats on “Seasons,” which has never before occurred on a Baroness record. Gold & Grey feels like the band took the brakes off Yellow & Green or stretched Purple (2015) to its breaking point. There are so many sides of metal and rock splendidly woven into this piece that Baroness has been working towards for so long, it plays out as a vision realized—a mission that has come full circle.
Gold & Grey marks the closing of a thematic adventure for Baroness. The past 12 years have turned the sludge-tinged band into one of the most essential and prolific forces in present day metal and rock. Baroness‘ artistic excellence and visceral emotional display throughout each song are as colourful as the artwork that adorns the album cover. Within the rich and colorful soundscape that Baroness has crafted, Gold & Grey is the boldest and most brilliant of them all.
Rating: 8/10, 5 stars
1. Front Toward Enemy
2. I’m Already Gone
4. Sevens (instrumental)
6. Anchor’s Lament (instrumental)
7. Throw Me an Anchor
8. I’d Do Anything
9. Blankets of Ash (instrumental)
10. Emmett – Radiating Light
11. Cold-Blooded Angels
12. Crooked Mile (instrumental)
13. Broken Halo
14. Can Oscura (instrumental)
16. Assault on East Falls (instrumental)
17. Pale Sun