First Listen: Baroness, ‘Gold & Grey’

by Marie Rodriguez

After sixteen years of hard rock evolution, Baroness, now greater than ever, sounds all in favor of the possibility of rock and roll’s future. Gold & Grey is the very last access within the band’s lengthy-going for walks collection of color-coded releases which started with The Red Album in 2007. It could have been poetic to convey the band’s sound lower back full-circle on this launch, and in some methods, the organization does merely that. But in the direction of the report’s expansive 17 songs, the band participants discover a palette of feelings and sonic ideas as numerous as the several sunglasses a painter can create with merely aspect colors — singer and guitarist John Baizley need to recognize; he’s a finished painter using alternate.


In its scope, Gold & Grey seems like a callback to the heyday of the rock album as art item — that duration within the late ’70s when a radio-pleasant rock band like Led Zeppelin launched the sprawling Physical Graffiti, and their even greater heady compatriots in Yes started the monolithic Tales from Topographic Oceans.

It’s now not the first time Baizley and organization have forged their innovative net as extensive as it may pass — in 2012; Baroness launched a double album, Yellow and Green. However, the band recorded that album as a 3-piece with Baizley managing all of the bass obligations, a technique which he admits confined him.

On Gold & Grey, with a newer, bigger backing band — returning bassist Nick Jost and drummer Sebastian Tomson are joined by new guitarist and backup vocalist Gina Gleason this time around — and a highly improvisational writing method, Baizley had the risk to revisit the possibilities of Yellow and Green at the same time as indulging his every eccentricity. Acoustic guitars anchor the plaintive “Tourniquet,” at the same time as more distorted riffs on “Throw Me an Anchor” and “Broken Halo” remind listeners that Baroness changed into once a substantial steel band — and on “Seasons,” drummer Sebastian Thomson tastefully employs a few excessive-velocity blasts beats typical of the maximum severe metallic groups. Interludes like “Blankets of Ash” and “Crooked Mile” evoke the stateliness of prog rock with string sections, synthesizers. In nearly each tune Baizley and Gleason evoke the two element vocal harmonies of Alice in Chains — Baizley tells NPR that the band hired “an almost irresponsible quantity of harmony.”

“I made sure anybody understood that we failed to have to worry about such things as brevity, or performance,” Baizley says approximately the band’s on the whole off-the-cuff recording sessions with Dave Fridmann. “What we needed to do changed into expanding.”

Expand Baroness has. Like a getting older star swallowing the planets which once burst from its surface, Baroness has redigested each sound of the band’s profession to this point and synthesized it into something more. Gold & Grey is the sound of a group turning into a universe unto itself.

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