Baroness – “Gold & Gray”

Baroness has been one of the most consistent groups of the last decade.

Every record they’ve put out since “The Red Album” has been gradually better than the last, and each has been particularly interesting in their own right. Each one stands out as having it’s own specific qualities, while maintaining a general theme throughout their catalog. “Blue Record” for instance, is filled with plenty of very slow jams alongside it’s heavier more doom metal infused tracks. “Yellow & Green” however is generally less heavy, and utilizes vocal lines to drive the songs rather than riffs. “Gold & Gray” feels much more rooted in hard rock, and goth than any of their previous releases. It seems as though this has been the trajectory their music has taken since “The Blue Record”, with every album being a little cleaner, and a little less heavy.

The opening track “Front Toward Enemy” begins with a wash of noise, like the record itself is like a monster rising from the sea, come to destroy. The guitar comes in with a devastating guitar riff, it moves fast, it’s drop tuned, it’s played with intensity, and it’s backed by a very danceable drum beat. That was the general theme that really poked out to me, it has a certain sense of danceability that isn’t as fully formed on previous releases. “Seasons”, the album’s reverb infused 3rd track, ebbs and flows like a typical Baroness song, but the drums take an approach that I can only liken to drum and bass. London Town’s steppers, movers, and shakers would find this particular song very welcome I think. 

I found this record to have a much more definitive pulse than anything I’ve heard from them, and I have to say it’s one of my favorite outings from Baroness. Of course fans of theirs would argue the sludgy riffs, slow headbanger porn, and wash of distortion and reverb they implemented on previous releases was what made Baroness; and those people are not wrong. Songs that implement those elements are not completely lost on this record either, “Crooked Mile” and “Can Oscura” are proof of that, but I would argue that it’s nice to see them put out a record that challenges the archetype. Can you make a killer sludge metal track with drum and bass beats? Hell yes you can, and here it is. Also, as far as live performance goes, songs like the ones that litter this record, the ones where I struggle not to move to, intermixed with their heavier songs, and washed out soundscapes, are going to make for one seriously great show. 

This record was awesome, I think the sound quality was exactly what I would have expected from them, and I think it came together very well. All 5 stars here.

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