It’s been over three years since Baroness unleashed Purple to the masses. Released in 2015, Purple was the first album to hit the airwaves after the horrific 2012 Baroness bus crash that injured nine and left many in the hospital for weeks. The crash ultimately led to bassist Matt Maggioni and drummer Allen Blickle leaving the band. Since then, Peter Adams has also stepped away, leaving John Baizley as the only original member remaining. John has never let line-up changes derail the band or take away from the complex musical foundation that Baroness is known for. The line-up is now complete with Sebastian Thomson on drums, Nick Jost on bass, Gina Gleason on guitar, and of course, mastermind John Baizley on guitar, vocals, and arrangements. The current line-up is set to release their new album, Gold & Grey, on June 14th via the band’s own label, Abraxan Hymns.
With more than three years to compile new material, Baroness has had plenty of time to piece together the components of Gold & Grey. Composed of 17 tracks, six of which are short transitional pieces or intros, Gold & Grey takes the rock n’ roll Baroness tones that we are used to and pushes the boundaries with increased hypnotic tones, blended styles, enhanced vocal deliveries, and mesmerizing time changes. Some of the interlude tracks, such as “Sevens,” “Anchor’s Lament,” and “Blankets of Ash,” create a backdrop of cinematic tones that help the album flow with ease. If you aren’t a fan of transition tracks, this album probably isn’t for you.
The opening track “Front Toward Enemy” highlights Nick Jost’s crushing sludge bass tones and erases any doubt that Baroness has lost touch with their unique writing style. In fact, Gold & Grey as a whole pushes the wide array of styles that Baroness has blended on past records to new heights. “Seasons” is a personal favorite on the album for me. Transitioning from a jazz inspired intro into blast beats and crunchy bass lines, “Seasons” highlights Baroness’s intricate songwriting. “Throw Me An Anchor” is another heavy hitter with a chorus hook that is sure to get stuck in your head. “Tourniquet,” “Cold Blooded Angels,” and “Broken Halo” all provide rock n’ roll grooves that are balanced with just the right amount of trippy guitar effects and softer break downs.
If you were lucky enough to catch Baroness on their last co-headlining tour with Deafheaven, you would’ve heard a glimpse of Gold & Grey when they performed “Borderlines” live for the first time. I was one of the lucky ones who caught the Dallas date of that tour. I knew that if the rest of the album echoed the atmosphere that “Borderlines” provided in a live setting, Gold & Grey would be another Baroness masterpiece. I wasn’t wrong. With plenty of haunting acoustic guitars and piano melodies throughout, Gold & Grey blends the heavy and dark tones with peace and tranquility. The album has plenty of compelling and captivating material to digest. With each spin of Gold & Grey, you will uncover another layer of beautiful melodies that didn’t seem to be there on the prior listen.
– Corey Smith