On Thursday, July 11, Grammy-nominated metal band Baroness will make its first appearance in Lancaster, and the show will also kick-start the band's U.S. tour behind the new album, "Gold & Grey."
Serving as the final chromatic-colored album of the band's discography - the fifth, following "Red Album," "Blue Record," "Yellow & Green" and "Purple" - "Gold & Grey" contains some of the bands' best writing yet, though it was mostly born out of time in the studio. “Gold & Grey” was released on June 14.
"A vast majority of the album was written in real time; we didn't even have lyrics for most of the songs when we started recording it," says frontman John Baizley over the phone. “It was a crazy process turning compelling music into compelling songs.”
Through 16 years and five albums, Baizley has not only remained the band’s sole constant member, but he also paints the otherworldly covers that adorn each of the band’s albums.
Though “metal” is the appropriate catchall term for the music of Baroness, with its sludgey riffs and bone-crunching volume, “Gold & Grey” presents itself as a journey through the genre’s outer reaches. Throughout the album’s 17-song, 60-minute length, Baizley and his crew - comprised of Nick Jost on bass, Sebastian Thomsen on drums and newcomer Gina Gleason on guitar - combine metal with folk, ambient and prog touches to create something all its own.
“There’s a process in between records where I’ll have an honest discussion with myself and the band about what worked best with the last record,” explains Baizley. “Instead of focusing on strengths, we focus on weaknesses from prior albums and turn them into strengths.”
“Gold & Grey” was a labor of love for two years after the final tour for “Purple” as well as the Grammy nomination for Best Metal Performance for “Shock Me,” from the same album. Following up on critical acclaim has been a hallmark of Baroness’ existence, which Baizley attributes to a refined album-making process despite personnel changes.
“I think the definition of a growing or mature artist is one who knows instinctively when something is done,” says Baizley. “As younger artists, we either stop short because we don’t know that we can do more, or we over-embellish. It’s a very delicate art to know when you’ve hit the finish line and to not go over.”
As with most bands with a beloved back catalogue and more than a dozen years notched on the road, Baroness could very easily have taken 2019 to shine a light on past glories. “Blue Record,” which came out in 2009 and initially shot the band to wider fame past its Savannah, Georgia, birthplace, celebrates a decade of existence in October. However, Baizley tends to keep an eye towards the future.
“We sort of shy away from doing the ‘full album’ sets,” says Baizley. “It reads like too much of a gimmick for me, and I try to stay away from those.”
With “Gold & Grey” finally out to fans, Baroness seems ready to ride the lightning through the accompanying U.S. and European tours that will take the band through the end of the year.
“Honestly, I couldn’t feel better about [the album’s release]," Baizley says. "We’ve just been white-knuckling it waiting for it to come out.”