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Baroness - Gold and Grey Award winner

Baroness
Gold and Grey
by Chris Hawkins at 15 July 2019, 9:33 AM

In keeping with the color tradition of past albums, BARONESS have effectively titled their latest “Gold and Grey”.  Listening to “Gold and Grey” is an experience.  It is like sitting in the living room on a rainy night with a glass of Merlot whilst carefully examining old photo albums of the past.  Like an antiquated family heirloom, it is a creation meaning something specific and unique to the holder.  The greatest works of art form tight emotional bonds with their beholder and such is the case with this collection of tunes.

The album is a deep dive into a mix of emotions that ring through in the varied songs presented.  What truly launches the album into the stratosphere is the incredibly lush production.  The softer parts are somberly hushed and the more brash, spirited songs rage unbridled.  The studio mastery of work here is some of the finest production yet heard as they have created an album full of SOUND.  At times, it is difficult to differentiate between analog synth patterns and unique combinations of effects pedals, and it is all to the ultimate benefit of the music.  RADIOHEAD’s “Kid A” comes to mind especially for the fact that Thom Yorke claimed at its release that all the parts one would think were played by guitars were in fact keyboards and vice versa.

As one devotes the time to delve into this record, it soon becomes crystal clear that the band are at the top of their game.  The influences that appear are s varied as the songs themselves.  What kept coming to mind while digesting all this music is that clearly, this is Prog for song lovers.  There are myriad tempo shifts, stylistic changes, complex parts, drowning effects, etc. Yet all the while, BARONESS prioritize the song at hand.  The album is devoid of overindulgent noodling and virtuosic showing off.  Instead, the band are tight, focused, and the album benefits from such a clear-minded approach to upper-tiered musicianship.

Front Toward Enemy,” the first track, is the heaviest, most straight-forward attack.  With a massively abrasive riff propelled by a revolutionary approach to heavy guitar, the track resounds with pensive fury.  John Baizley’s croon gives a melodic quality to the music that truly sets the band apart.  The following track, “I’m Already Gone,” combines a powerful bass line performed by Nick Jost with vibrating textured guitar playing that recalls past work from bands like THE CURE.  The guitar chimes like a razor blade against glass while the stout bass fills the low and mid-range frequencies with its danceable funky groove.  The shuffle of “Seasons,” the third track, further showcases Jost’s nimble finger work and the riffs are indelibly momentous.  At the 2:40 mark, the band launches into an unexpected blast beat cadenced by a sheer monolithic layering of guitars.  When the chorus hits, there is a cacophonous explosion of sound and it is impossible not to become lost in the thought that this band is thinking light years ahead of others when crafting their music.

Between some of the songs, the band wisely place select instrumentals to break potential monotony.  This causes the album, like many classic works by PINK FLOYD or even TYPE O NEGATIVE, to flow seamlessly.  These include tracks like “Sevens,” “Anchor’s Lament,” and “Blankets of Ash”.  These are absolutely not throwaway tracks to skip but rather ease the myriad transitions within the album.  “Crooked Mile,” though only forty-one seconds showcases a demented sounding clean guitar piece that vibrates in and out of tune like musical vertigo induce by blanketed psychedelia.

Cold Blooded Angels” features a meandering acoustic track that sounds like a modern take on some classic BEATLES motifs.  While the Fab Four’s influence permeates through nearly all modern music, to hear a somber take on their art is refreshing coming from a heavier band.  “Broken Halo” has a gargantuanly thick rhythm and at the 2:41 mark, the dual guitar attack is simply unstoppable between Baizley and Gina Gleason as they propel harmonies that soar.  “Borderlines” is the catchiest of the songs on “Gold and Grey” as the contrast between a massive, spiraling bass line and rambling, delay-infused guitars creates musical bliss.  Certainly, the secret weapon within this and the other tracks as well is Baizley’s highly infectious vocal melodies.

BARONESS have created an album for music lovers.  At times somber and plaintive, the songs contain feelings of rebellion and angst as well.  Through deep introspection, the band have successfully exorcised their demons through their art.  THIN LIZZY and JANE’S ADDICTION mix with PINK FLOYD, JOY DIVISION, and classic Metal in this wild romp through experimentation as guitars evocatively color the tracks bound together by the rock-solid rhythm section.  What is most important, though, is that the band have placed a singular focus on the song.  After seeing them live back in April, they can be highly recommended so be sure to catch them on tour now!

Songwriting:  9
Originality:  9
Memorability:  9
Production:  10


 

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Front Toward Enemy
2. I’m Already Gone
3. Seasons
4. Sevens
5. Tourniquet
6. Anchor’s Lament
7. Throw Me an Anchor
8. I’d Do Anything
9. Blankets of Ash
10. Emmett – Radiating Light
11. Cold-Blooded Angels
12. Crooked Mile
13. Broken Halo
14. Can Oscura
15. Borderlines
16. Assault on East Falls
17. Pale Sun
 
Lineup:
John Baizley – Vocals, Guitar
Gina Gleason – Guitar, Vocals
Nick Jost – Bass
Sebastian Thomas – Drums
 
Record Label: Abraxan Hymns
     


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Edited 23 September 2019
 

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