As someone almost solely operating this site on a budget of nothing and out of a labor of love, I don’t always get around to covering things on an industry timetable. It is corny af to me that it is frowned upon to review an album that is only a few months old instead of, like, only release week. Or the worst…having to ghoulishly rush publish when someone famous dies without having a chance to absorb the very human loss. What about processing music and living with it awhile?
This is, for obvious reasons, a terrible example but I couldn’t enjoy any Harry Potter movies when they were super hyped until the roar died down and I could take it in and experience it for myself (and now, with all apologies to my faves Luna Lovegood and Bellatrix Lestrange, it is hard not to sometimes regret that decision despite loving those stories when the author is campaigning against my community on the regular to a horrific fucking degree. Also, the irony of her having a Nonbinary actor Ezra Miller being the repressed obscurus is HUGE).
File Empire Of Love under Gaze rights? Albums with fantastic cover art that will enrage shitty people yet that Sense8 fans will cherish? In actuality it is nigh impossible to classify the new Violet Cold as anything other than great and much needed. I usually lie around in a diabetic, demiflux depression stupor most of the day and listen to black metal then go to my overnight vampire shift job at a 24 hour gym that forces members to overdose on Ava Max and Dua Lipa, so it is really compelling to hear the shameless pop vocal elements that would normally be cranked way too high in any dance mix buried here amidst radiant blackened technical opuses as if they were told to sit in the corner and have vocals be subservient to some guitars ala some Steve Albini olden days vocal mix until they learn how to play texturally with others. And to clarify, Ava and Dua both have talent and appeal, I am mostly talking about the vocal production in that kind of chart centered pop and how creative decisions get structurally imposed onto the zeitgeist in the name of commerce and centering familiarity.
Music doesn’t have to be only some commercial dominant morass of nutrition free cynicism and seeing what sticks to the wall, yet all styles can still be repurposed and have new meanings (like when Jennifer Herrema used auto tune in RTX and it absolutely slayed and likewise cracked the skye. Pitchfork, y’all needed to fuckin’ give that album a higher score).
Note- I am also not throwing shade on some trap or disco artists who are genuinely trying to produce weird, trippy textures and use auto tune as an instrument more than a crutch and other modern pop elements, as long as the content isn’t shite.
In other words, I thought this entire album was a mish mash of my subconscious cracking open wide into a multiverse. Pretty refreshing when many black metal types are still wallowing in the mire debating if it was “ok” for Mayhem to make the stylistic shifts on Grand Declaration of War. Fucking yawn.
The “can vegetarians wear severed pig heads and throw skulls at their fans and still cover Rudimentary Peni” debate is much more interesting, but I digress.
Anyway, “Be Like Magic” literally stopped me in my tracks and made me ask aloud wtf is going on (and of course has a brilliantly subversive title). Some of the results here are breathtaking and shocking (speaking of “allowed/aloud”), like Moby’s “God Moving Over The Face Of The Waters” grew up to have a progressive metal half brother. I mean, maybe don’t underestimate someone who probably singlehandedly gave Deafheaven their entire new direction. Violet Cold is already three steps into further pastures while (no shade to them, but…) a band like The Lion’s Daughter, for example, is only just discovering recently that they don’t need to care what others think and can make some of their best ever art by coloring outside the lines and USING KEYBOARDS, lol. Extreme Black metal is supposedly so transgressive and the “cutting edge” Max Martin school of pop was supposed to be ‘transformative’ as well in a much more socially palatable way than sniffing bags of dead crows before singing, but both became parodies and subsumed by narrow dogma…a Golden Dawn or Golden Ratio, hahaha (I’m dying).
Violet Cold again throws cold water in the face of multiple genres and cultural limitations in the name of exhilarating, soulful freedom. I’m convinced “Life Dimensions” is the widdly waves of music Steve Vai would dream after absorbing post-gaze into his musical hive mind like the Phalanx in X-men. Liturgy and Frantic Bleep, Candiria or Anneke van Giersbergen’s work with Devin Townsend are some of the only artists I have ever heard be this crazy and make it work so fluidly. This is a highly addictive record to inhabit awhile and a revolutionary work of art for individuality, collective love and solidarity outside the exploited, barren wasteland of capitalism’s binary Matrix. Dark Funeral once promised humorously to Teach Children To Worship Satan but in this genuine, Earth in crisis moment where we need an actual Aquarian shift, Violet Cold will teach your kid to worship possibility, learn to be themselves and above all…that it is ok to hope, despair, rage, celebrate and be complicated. And still be loved. And to the edgelord brigade stuck in the past who can’t adapt to new horizons, (not to be ageist) but as Anal C*nt once said…”You’re Old (Fuck You)”. Better an empire (Empyre?) of love in 2021 than Bard from Emperor stabbing marginalized people in Lillehammer in the 90’s.