Release Date: Jun 14, 2019
Record label: Abraxan Hymns
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Heavy Metal, Progressive Metal, Sludge Metal, Post-Metal
The metal band have battled through adversity (and near-death) to make a life-affirming record It's hard to think of any good coming from Georgia at the moment, given its current human rights crisis. But it did, via Virginia, give rise to Baroness. And that we can be thankful for as they bring their fifth studio album to fruition. In a way, the album is perfectly timed: their prog-lite is the antidote to everything that's crap in the world right now.
Georgia's finest, Baroness , are one of the finest exponents of heavy metal in the world nowadays (possibly ever, when all's said and done), because for years, like musical big brothers Mastodon , they have been refining and crafting and sanding and sharpening the ugly strain of metal of their debut into something far more beautiful, pushing back against the more regressive, reclusive qualities of the genre into lush green pastures of opportunity. Where this kind of trajectory usually results in alienation from an audience, Baroness ' audience has grown, organically, to the point where they're now being nominated for Grammys and finding their albums charting across the world. That said, your enjoyment of Gold & Grey will largely depend on how heavy you like your metal.
The Lowdown: Baroness' newest album, Gold & Grey, represents a great deal for the band; while it makes for the closing chapter to their chromatic-themed LPs, it is also a proud representation of the band's artistry. Over the course of their career, Baroness have delivered material that exudes emotion, while expanding upon their sonic technicality. While there is something intimate to find throughout all of Baroness' work, Gold & Grey is by far their most fascinating album to date.
"I would do anything to feel like I'm alive again." There's a common misconception that those who survive a near-death experience find a renewed lust for life, an almost simple-minded gratefulness for the mere circumstance of continuing to exist. The reality is, of course, more complicated. John Baizley, frontman, guitarist, artist behind those incredibly intricate album covers, and now the only remaining founding member of Baroness, knows the reality of a life lived in the shadow of trauma intimately.
It is intimidating thing to sit down with a new Baroness record and try to understand its contours. There's just so much to take into account. This Savannah DIY metal band turned scattered progressive rock collective are an entirely different beast than they were back when Red came out in 2007 and every bike messenger in West Philly was rocking their shirts; or when Blue dropped in 2009 and hipsters caught wind of their promise; or when 2012's Yellow & Green elevated them to a new tier of progressive acclaim; or when 2015's Grammy-nominated Purple presented a band who had quite literally been through hell, and returned bearing iridescent riffs.
Gold & Grey represents the end of Baroness' color-schemed album titles, preceded by Red Album, Blue Record, Yellow & Green, and Purple. The now-Philadelphia-based quartet have been through major changes, from magazine covers and award nominations to a horrific life-threatening bus crash that caused the original rhythm section to leave, and the 2018 departure of founding guitarist Peter Adams, vocalist/guitarist John Baizley is the only original member. Bassist Nick Jost and drummer Sebastian Thomson were on board for Purple, but new guitarist/backing vocalist Gina Gleason (Santana, Smashing Pumpkins) makes her studio debut with Baroness here.
B aroness have certainly paid their dues. A bad 2012 bus crash, resulting in traumatic injuries and the departure of three members, played havoc with the remaining lineup's mental health and threatened to derail a promising career. On their fifth album, though, they sound like a band who aren't just determined to make up for lost time, but who have realised what is important and want to make the best possible statement they can.