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baroness goldandgrey
Artist: Baroness
Title: Gold & Grey
Genre: Progressive Metal
Release Date: 14th June 2019
Label: Abraxan Hymns


Album Review

BARONESS - ‘Gold & Grey’, a masterpiece!

There was the ‘Red Album’, the ‘Blue Album’, then ‘Yellow & Green’ and finally ‘Purple’. And now ‘Gold & Grey’. For four years, BARONESS had the community wait for new music, as long as never before, and truly: That time has spilled into this record. You can hear a lot on this album, which often sounds as if BARONESS had distributed all the existing paint buckets at once. It was the goal to “write even more sophisticated, honest and engaging songs and to develop a unique and challenging sound,” explains band principal John Baizley. The result is a monster that will not only challenge some listeners, but may also overwhelm them. After their Sludge Metal and Stadium Rock stages, BARONESS arrives at Progressive Metal with ‘Gold & Grey’ and release an album that wants to be conquered. As with his colourful predecessors, everything is there what makes BARONESS without repeating itself.

The artistic career of BARONESS, from its foundation in 2003 until 2019, is quite interesting to follow. The band from the US state of Georgia became known for two raw, uncompromising and, above all, heavy-sludge Sludge Metal albums with a pronounced southern appearance. With ‘Yellow & Green’ (2012) appeared an unusually catchy and commercially successful double album, followed by ‘Purple’ (2015, first release on their own label Abraxan Hymns) the return to ancient virtues followed and it was again noticeably harder. ‘Gold & Grey’ now shows that the flirt with the mainstream is finally over. On the other hand, the colour choice is surprising. John Baizley simply could not make friends with the sound of the word “Orange”, even though, logically, it would have been an “orange album”.

The artwork is again from BARONESS guitarist and singer John Baizley. He describes the painting as follows: “This is just another part of a big puzzle. Like the whole album, the artwork is the result of an intense, tireless and insane creative process. The picture is my personal reflection of BARONESS’ 12 year band history, it is the sixth and final part of our colour-ordered album cycle”. The cover of this last brushstroke of the huge cycle of albums that BARONESS has been creating for 13 years now is very orange, but the colour did not make it into the album title. However, it is understandable that “gold & grey” sounds much more poetic than “orange”.

And if concepts are thrown overboard, then why not the stubborn, extremely tightly timed working method of the band? Instead of meticulously planned recording sessions as in recent albums, the album was created in a much more relaxed atmosphere to parts in Baizley’s home studio, as well as in ‘Purple’ producer Dave Fridmann’s Tarbox Road Studio in New York. Presumably, this approach was the right decision, it was after the departure of Peter Adams once again to integrate a new band member. The new guitarist Gina Gleason has been proving live since 2017, and on the new album she is now making her recording debut with BARONESS.

The opener, ‘Front towards enemy’, makes clear that BARONESS are back. Already in the first few minutes of the album, all the hallmarks of the band jump towards the listener. Almost as if BARONESS had to make it clear right from the start that they are still the same, even though they are not. ‘Front towards enemy’ succinctly sums up what the group is all about: Brilliant, virtuoso work on guitars, bass and drums, in the first place, of course, the ingenious interplay of the former and the large, often polyphonic melodic arcs that turn Rock-Hard Metal crackers into hymns. Of course, songs of this category can often be found on ‘Gold & Grey’. Definitely worth mentioning here are the previously published ‘Borderlines’, as well as ‘Throw me an anchor’, which climbs despite all the gravity into lofty heights, thanks to Baizley and Gleason’s singing.

Melodious, soulful and gentle passages still exist in the new songs of BARONESS. At ‘I’d do anything’ Baizley switches to the acoustic guitar and, together with piano and strings, reaches deep into the emotional box. ‘I’m already gone’ lives from mournful singing and almost goes through as a ballad. It almost becomes folky with ‘Emmett-Radiating Light’. Here vocals and acoustics dominate the happenings. Really pretty, the song increases to the middle with the help of piano, bells and polyphonic singing. So the song offers about half of the album a welcome breather.

The album as a whole will only inspire real music enthusiasts, who like to take their time. Spread over 17 tracks you can hear chimes (‘I’m Already Gone’), interludes with pleasing keyboard gadgets and rugged industrial sounds, minutes of dreaming on the acoustic guitar (‘Emmet’), power synthesizers like ELO (‘Broken Halo’) and then rocking semi-ballads (‘I’d do anything’). These powerful splashes of colour turn ‘Gold & Grey’ into an album with strong contrasts.

The focus is still on the Metal songs, and it are precisely these that refuse the listener for a long time. Breath-taking drumming, hook-striking guitar playing, a furious bass, often all at once. In pieces such as ‘Tourniquet’ or ‘Throw Me An Anchor’ you do not even know where to listen, especially as BARONESS on ‘Gold & Grey’ only rarely develop classic Metal force. The mixture of red, blue, yellow, green and violet then actually becomes a diffuse grey. But you always come across gold. In guitar solos, bass runs, even in the complex songwriting. Isolating the dazzling details between all the ideas and demonstrations of virtuosity requires a lot of patience and repeated intensive listening. After that, the joy of this unruly beauty is much greater. Demanding is this music in any case. And captivating!

The bottom line is that ‘Gold & Grey’ captivates with its versatility. In fact, BARONESS reproduces it almost in the entire bandwidth, although a few shades, especially from the beginning, are missing here. The basic tone of the album is extremely conciliatory, which dignifies the fact that it forms the conclusion of the colour pentalogy. Although the songs are amazingly diverse and evoke different kinds of emotions, these tracks have a sense of unity, as well as the band’s common sense that they have developed over the years. BARONESS sounds like never before and retains its identity from the first to the last note. By reminiscing their eventful history both musically and lyrically, BARONESS evokes memories of all their predecessors. Kept elements are not simply repeated, but skilfully further developed, so that some references never make you feel that Baroness serve a rehash. On the contrary: ‘Gold & Grey’ is more than self-sufficient and creates great moments, but looks back to a life full of experience on the rainbow-colored path. It is a fitting end to their coloured albums, which allow no disappointment with 17 titles.


Tracklist

01. Front Toward Enemy
02. I’m Already Gone
03. Seasons
04. Sevens
05. Tourniquet
06. Anchor’s Lament
07. Throw Me An Anchor
08. I’d Do Anything
09. Blankets Of Ash
10. Emmett-Radiating Light
11. Cold Blooded Angels
12. Crooked Mile
13. Broken Halo
14. Can Oscura
15. Borderlines
16. Assault On East Falls
17. Pale Sun


Line-up

John Baizley – Vocals, Guitar
Gina Gleason – Guitar, Vocals
Sebastian Thomson – Drums
Nick Jost – Bass, Keyboard


Website

https://yourbaroness.com


Cover Picture

baroness goldandgrey


Rating

Music: 9
Sound: 10
Total: 9.5 / 10




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