Written by Carcassbomb
Violet Cold – Empire Of Love
Post Metal/Red Anarchist Black Metal from Azerbaijan
Released for free May 7th, 2021
Let’s talk about an album that has ruffled a lot of piss-weak feathers in the black metal scene, for reasons you can probably guess, the latest from experimental creator Violet Cold. This isn’t just a random album with the pride flag stuck on the cover however, it also embodies a positive sound and message, the sound of change in the air and tears on the streets. As a nonbinary person myself, I found it very uplifting, but there is so much more to it!
It was a bold choice to have the first main track, “Pride” be one of the least black metal “sounding” tracks, opening with vocals you’d expect to hear on a K-pop song, but you’d have to be some kind of poser to not be able to hear where the black metal lies, deeply in the song structure and techniques. Much like Deafheaven‘s 2018 masterpiece Ordinary Corrupt Human Love, these same ideas and techniques from black metal are flipped on their head to produce a more serene and often soaring sound. The blast beats and tremolo picking are all here, just performed differently using different tones. They actually use tones other than 10 gain with 2 distortion pedals and a mic in the middle of the room on the floor, so this is better than black metal, it’s blackgaze incorporating a heavy essence of post-metal and shoegaze.
While the concept on a musical level isn’t entirely new, what makes this album really stand out is the sheer amount of vocal variety that can be found, all sorts of intriguing clean vocals, and a bunch of fantastic growls and screams. It very much goes through extremes in a way that exceeds the limitations of black metal as we know them, allowing the shoegaze aspect of the music to carry the more unorthodox vocals with grace.
What I LOVE about this album is its themes, this is such a bold statement album that fills me with joy that it even exists in the current climate of the extreme music scene which favors cishet nazis more than it does queer communists. This isn’t JUST about gay pride, it also works this messaging into an antiwork revolution, which has so much to do with why I myself identify as non binary, in detest of the binary which exists most prominently, as a way to exploit people for their bodies. I worked in factories and various hard labor jobs from the age of 14 when the school pushed me into it because I was too much “trouble” (see: autistic). In my eyes, the gender revolution is the spearhead of all leftist revolution and is charging the march against the status quo that has us all feeling so fucking dead.
Hang on, you know what I LOVE LOVE about this album? Yeah there’s a lot going on here, which is why people going out of their way to discredit it are basically outing themselves as bigots at this point. You might have noticed the “an experimental AI simulated music project” descriptor on Bandcamp, and perhaps like me, you assumed it’s like many of the other such projects using computer algorithms to procedurally generate music, but no, it goes even deeper than that, and this is one of the coolest most interesting aspects of the album I had learned (Which prompted me to rewrite my entire review). The creator of this brilliant album identifies as an AI, in the context of simulation theory, something I really admire as someone who spends so much of their time entrenched in maddening existentialism as an answer for “This can’t be IT, this is dog shit”. It’s just as valid of a belief as any other and there’s so much room of nuance and implication once you get down the rabbit hole. In the words of Billy Ray Cyrus, it is indeed “Much to think about.”.
While everything that is presented is golden, I do have one critique and that is the ending felt very abrupt. I really like a well-constructed endnote, particularly after experiencing so much soaring melody and euphoria. That, however, is minor in comparison to what is achieved on Empire Of Love. Essential post-metal listening for 2021.
Oh and it’s Name Your Own Price on Bandcamp, so you can get it for free! And that’s what I love love love about this album.