Baroness
Gold and Grey


4.5
superb

Review

by Odal USER (17 Reviews)
June 12th, 2019 | 276 replies


Release Date: 2019 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A highly suspect mix and a few other head-scratching decisions can't stop this from being the best Baroness record in a decade.

John Baizley and company have spent this decade wandering off into weirder, softer directions that have been undeniably ambitious, but often with mixed results. A life-threatening bus crash separates Yellow & Green and Purple, though the two albums essentially share the same DNA, and while the former seemed to push the band’s limits on what the Baroness brand could mean, the latter seemed to be more of the same in a band that had never really stopped to smell the roses before, Grammy be damned. So when Gold & Grey was announced as the final entry in the band’s color-based album series, there were a lot of questions for how they would deliver such a strong statement piece.

The answer, it seems, isn’t a simple one. And that’s not because it’s difficult to hear exactly what is going on. Yes, let’s get this out of the way: the mixing and production on Gold & Grey is atrocious. This a maximalist album with a lot going on, a lot of the time and there are moments where the guitars are practically inaudible or sections where you might think you hear a harmonica or a xylophone, but it’s hard to tell if they are really there or if your brain is just trying to make sense of the fuzz. This mix is a pre-meditated assault on the ears. The band itself seems to start things off as a sort of shock treatment, as the worst offenders here might be the two tracks that start the proceedings off. “Front Toward Enemy” and “I’m Already Gone” are decent songs in their own right, but they will grate the ears and test even the most loyal fan’s patience.

Taking the, ahem, ‘controversial’ mix out of the equation, still leaves the album with some headscratchers. A good portion of the album’s 17 tracks are interludes, and a good portion of those are fairly useless. There are pacing issues, particularly on the run in the middle between “Blankets of Ash” and the first half of “Cold-Blooded Angels” or the fact that the final six tracks only have two ‘traditional’ songs between them, neither of which are the puzzling closer. With its off-kilter instrumentation and choral chanting, "Pale Sun" will likely be the most polarizing track the band has ever done.

And yet, despite the mix and the many, many questionable decisions, I have no reservations calling Gold & Grey a triumph. Simply put, the songs that work here are the culmination of nearly a decade of experimentation and hardship. “Tourniquet” is a crunchy midtempo banger that sounds like a distillation of the many different directions the band attempted on Yellow & Green, only better and “Seasons” is the most extreme song the band have ever conceived, featuring a cameo from an honest-to-god blastbeat. “I’d Do Anything” is a spine-tingling ballad that any previous incarnation of the band simply wouldn’t have been capable of writing. It’s a wonderful display of just how far Baizley’s vocals have come since the days of sounding like an angry drunk on the streets, and newcomer Gina Gleason’s harmonies quickly reveal themselves to be a vital addition to the band’s sound.

What the band’s sound actually means is still up for debate, as the hour and change worth of music here wanders between white-knuckle mosh anthems and psychedelic litmus tests, with maybe even a bit of barbershop quartet thrown in for good measure (I am not kidding about “Pale Sun”). The oft-mentioned here experimentation has been the name of the game this decade for Baroness, but they are so much better at making things coalesce here than they ever have before. The different directions, much like the gorgeous cover art, help paint with different colors rather than contribute to a messy pile. I wasn’t crazy about lead-single “Borderlines” when it dropped, but it is downright transformative in the context of the album and a perfect culmination of the band’s more traditional elements.

While 17 tracks spread over sixty minutes should be taxing, it’s impossible to be anything but giddy when you hit play. Gold & Grey has plenty of warts and stretchmarks (and that damn mix), but it’s an album that can only happen when a band has the maturity and experience to match its ambition. If this was it for Baroness, then what a sendoff this would be. But it’s not, though whatever may come after from the band doesn’t really matter. Gold & Grey is one of the band’s finest moments and cements their legacy as one of the premiere rock acts of the decade.



Recent reviews by this author
Defeater DefeaterJustin Timberlake The 20/20 Experience - 2 of 2
Grouplove Spreading RumoursKylesa Ultraviolet
Portugal. The Man Evil FriendsJeff Rosenstock I Look Like Shit
user ratings (177)
Chart.
3.5
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
Odal
June 12th 2019


424 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Official stream: https://www.npr.org/2019/06/10/729219388/first-listen-baroness-gold-grey



After purple, my expectations were pretty low for another Baroness record. It's safe to say I was blown away by this.



As always, criticism/suggestions/whatever welcome.I realize this is a little bloated but I wanted to say something about this thing

Pikazilla
June 12th 2019


818 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

It's their best since Blue, in my humble opinion. The only thing holding me back from 4.5'ing this is the bloody awful production. Oh boy is it terrible.

Odal
June 12th 2019


424 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

The production is slightly better than I thought the singles lead on, but it's still impressively bad. Still, there have been few albums recently that I have been excited to return to as this one. Definitely their best since blue, and I just keep liking it more and more

Evrimen
June 12th 2019


146 Comments


Seems like their best albums are sadly the ones that are mixed the worst. Blue imho, is their pinnacle and boy does its production make my ears hurt..

DoofDoof
June 12th 2019


4007 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Has this got even worse 'loudness' production than Purple?

Odal
June 12th 2019


424 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yes, sadly. This is their worst-produced and mixed album yet. I really hope they remaster it someday. It has me pining for Blue's production

Pikazilla
June 12th 2019


818 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Also, nice review! It reads like a 4.0 though.

DoofDoof
June 12th 2019


4007 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Worse than Purple must sound awful

Pikazilla
June 12th 2019


818 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Production-wise it's their worst.

Odal
June 12th 2019


424 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks so much I was debating between a 4 and 4.5. In reality it's probably like 4.2 or or 4.3, but I gave it a bit of a bump because life's too short.

DoofDoof
June 12th 2019


4007 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

'Production-wise it's their worst.'



I'm not usually one to care all that much about production - but I'm sad at that news, Purple's production was distracting

BigHans
June 12th 2019


29907 Comments


Purple rules, if this doesn't sound like it or Yellow/Green I'm not too interested.

Odal
June 12th 2019


424 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I think Purple had much more pressing issues than its production, but it is pretty surprising they stuck with that direction for this one too. I think it works on "Seasons" because it's such an intense track and I like the apocalyptic fuzz, but other than that it is across-the-board bad

Pikazilla
June 12th 2019


818 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

But Yellow/Green is their worst, from a musical standpoint.

Papa Universe
June 12th 2019


21720 Comments


baroPOS, bub

Digging: N'Zwaa - Maha Kali

Odal
June 12th 2019


424 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

@BigHans, this is very much like those albums, but waaaaaaaay better.

Odal
June 12th 2019


424 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Personally, I think Purple is their worst. To me, it sounds like Yellow and Green b-sides, and Y&G already had songs that sounded like b-sides on it. Y&G just tried too many things and I think they got caught up so much in being different, that a lot of the songs didn't focus on being great. That being said, it still had a lot of great songs, where as I really only return to Kerosene and If I Have to Wake Up off of Purple

Pikazilla
June 12th 2019


818 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

That's fair enough. Can we at least agree that Red and Blue are their best? (:

Odal
June 12th 2019


424 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Most definitely (: We'll see how this one lands as time goes on, but I have Blue>Red>this>G>Y>PURPLE

FadedSun
June 12th 2019


1982 Comments


So, all this talk about the production being shit, why did the band let it happen?



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2017 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy