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Baroness - Gold & Grey CD (album) cover

GOLD & GREY

Baroness

 

Experimental/Post Metal

3.75 | 13 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

TCat
4 stars Baroness' "Gold and Grey" is apparently the last of the chromatic-color themed albums, and is the 5th in that series. Released in June of 2019, it has a hefty number of tracks, 17 to be exact. The line up on this album consists of founder John Baizley (guitar, lead vocals, keyboards, and percussion), Nick Jost (bass, keyboards, backing vocals), Sebastian Thomson (drums and percussion, and Gina Gleason (guitar, backing vocals). The only new addition to the band is Gleason who replaced Pete Adams, the rest of the band is the same as on "Purple", their previous album.

Seventeen tracks may seem like a lot, but keep in mind that only one track exceeds the 6 minute mark, and there are a handful of tracks that are quite short. The album starts out with the excellent "Front Towards Enemy" with some heavy sounds and lots of guitar work that will get your heart racing. However, Baroness fans will notice that the music is still more accessible than the first 2 albums, at least in the beginging. That's the bad news, but the good news is, the music has some rough, unrefined edges, so it doesn't seem so smooth and ironed out as the last two albums. Also, as the album continues, the music gets more unique and experiemental, so keep with it and it will get better. I do miss the days, strangely enough, when John's vocals were more of a melodic growl, I used to love the passion behind those vocals. There is also much less instrumental interplay like there was on the first two albums, and that is really missed. However, there are still times when a surprising amount of passion does show through

Yet, there are still some great tracks here. The aforementioned "Front Towards Enemy" utilizes the bands newer sound quite well. Also, on some of the shorter tracks like "Seasons", you hear the band experimenting with keyboards and guitar, which makes for some nice variety that you don't expect. Also, "Tourniquet" has a lot of heartfelt passion on it, starting off surprisingly soft, but yet unique and a bit off kilter. As the track continues, it builds in intensity, but not in the ways you would expect. This is definitely a direction that is new for the band, and it has a unique progressive feel to it. Excellent track. This is a great example of why the band is considered Post Metal and Experimental. This experimental attitude shows through in "Anchor's Lament" with some deep harmonies, piano, string effects and such. The song acts as a prelude to "Throw Me an Anchor", which has a more thickly layered feel to it, heavy like some of the previous work, but the layers contain not just guitars, but a miasma of other sounds that build a nice and tense feeling to the track. The there is the surprise of "I'd Do Anything" which sounds like a ballad, but there is a lot of feedback and interesting effects that go far beyond the typical.

When you think you have heard it all, along comes "Emmett-Radiating Light". Talk about unconventional. This features softly plucked guitars and a really odd harmony in the vocals. A tenseness is felt in a swelling drone in the background and the echoing aspects of the synths and the brightness of bells against the morose vocals, you would almost swear you were listening to "Ulver's" album "Blood Inside". Also, the contrasting of John's and Gina's vocals on "Cold-Blooded Angels" is something else unexpected, especially when the music develops into something that resembles the passion from the earlier albums. There is even a short foray into micro-tones with "Crooked Mile", but I'm not sure if that was intentional or if they were just warping the sound. "Borderlines" is another highlight of the album, heavy, yet this is the band acquiring it's own sound and style, a bit unstable and teetering on the edge of insanity. I love it!

It is good to hear that Baroness has moved away from the more commercial sound that was on "Yellow & Green" and this album finds them experimenting a lot more. While it still isn't as excellent as "The Red Album", is still has a lot of strength in the band's willingness to explore new avenues. Once again, I have some hope for this band and I can detect the ability for them to continue to strengthen their sound. There is a possibility that they can have another 5 star album, but I can also tell that when it does happen, it will be completely different from "The Red Album" and will be it's own glorious work. As far as this album, it is a step back into the right direction, even though it might be a completely different path than it started out to be for the band. There is, however, some weaknesses in the album, as if there is a lack of confidence in the music (as in "Broken Halo") or if they are just getting familiar with what their new boundaries are. It's not perfect, but it is an indication of great things to come. There is a bit of unevenness on the album, and it probably would have flowed a lot smoother if the intermediate tracks could have somehow tied into the main tracks better, but these are things that many listeners might not notice. Overall, this album makes me happy to hear this talented band expand its horizons again. I can say that I am looking forward to seeing where they go next again, because for a while there, I was starting to lose interest. This album brings it all back again. Though it's not the best of the year, it is probably the most excited I have been hearing from band that I had lost hope in. Welcome back, Baroness! Yes I miss the old Baroness, but I love the new Baroness.

TCat | 4/5 |

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