At this point in their career, we all know that Baroness title their albums with the names of colors. One important thing to remember is that the number of colors in the title gauge what type of album it’s going to be.
Red, Blue, and Purple were all single albums with more concise and unified themes and motifs, while Yellow & Green was a sprawling, two-disc set that saw the band push its sound into new, exciting directions. It was also divisive among fans. Some appreciated the experimentation, while others fell into the category of wanting the “old” Baroness back.
Well, it’s 2019, and the band just released another salvo, Gold & Grey, which happens to be another sprawling, two-disc set that comes four years after the concise return of Purple. Just to get to the timeline right, Purple came after Yellow & Green, so some thought it was back to their more hard-rocking roots.
Not quite, as the band as once again enlisted the services of producer David Fridman, who is known for pushing bands out of their comfort zones. (He got slowcore Low pioneers to turn up the volume and rock out on their The Great Destroyer album.) In addition, guitarist/vocalist Gina Gleason takes over songwriting duties with founding member John Baizley.
This all results in another sprawling, double-album that shows the band once again painting with a bigger sonic palette that represents all facets of their sound. On it, you’ll find tried-and-true hard rock as well as forays into prog, psych, acoustic rock, and even post-punk. It’s their most multifaceted release to date, which each song being its own distinct entity. It’s a thrilling listen.
“Front Toward Enemy” opens with swaths of synths before launching into their patented, nimble hard rock. “I’m Already Gone” features danceable, post-punk beats and is a bit more subdued. But, the vocal harmonies that show up on it are 100 percent Baroness. “Seasons” starts off melancholy, adding a little hard rock at its chorus before ending in a collision of gnarly riffs and dueling guitars for its finish. “Tourniquet” is a folk/psych/prog nugget, while “Throw Me An Anchor” grafts glitchy, electronic sounds to their version of hard rock.
As you can tell from these five songs, the band is really putting it all out there. In fact, the experimentation continues in the set’s second half. What’s even more amazing is how the band pulls this all off so effortlessly. It works.
“Emmett Radiating Light” is a somber, acoustic-psych number that adds piano to the mix and maintains its downbeat mood for its duration. “Cold Blooded Angels” starts off as another acoustic lament, with gorgeous vocal harmonies provided by Baizley and Gleason, and a synth break, before the electric guitars kick back in, before going back to the acoustic guitars for its finish. “Broken Halo” and first single “Borderlines” mark a return to the intricate hard rock the band is known for, before ending on the subdued, psychedelic track “Pale Sun.”
Gold & Grey showcases Baroness firing on all cylinders, letting their freak flags fly high, and going wherever their music takes them. Once again, the band has made an album that is very distinct from its predecessor which seems to be their modus operandi. They don’t sit still. They’re always looking to push their sound into new directions, which is something to be admired in this day and age of bands making the same album over and over again. It’s an exciting listen, and easily one of the best loud rock records you’ll hear this year.
Buy the ticket, take the double-album ride.