If the reader will indulge me for a moment, I’m going to open this interview with a brief (but not entirely unrelated) digression…
So I was chatting about music with a friend the other day (as I am wont to do), and the subject of kvlt black metal came up – the super lo-fi, primitive, wall of hissing noise and howling brand of black metal. This friend, who tends to have pretty impeccable taste in music, mentioned that he isn’t really a fan of the kvlt stuff. I find that the older I get, the more I’m drawn to that kind of black metal, from Burzum through Les Légions Noires and up to what’s happening in the current Portuguese scene.
I do have to admit, though, that my favorite style black metal is about as far from the kvlt stuff as you can get. When it comes down to it, I am an absolute sucker for black metal that’s pretty and kind of sad. And given that preference, I could very easily review Violet Cold’s Anomie in just one word:
However, that likely wouldn’t be very useful for the vast majority of readers of this site, so allow me to expand on that…
Violet Cold, aka Emin Guliyev, is interesting for a couple of reasons. First, Guliyev hails from Azerbaijan, which isn’t exactly known for being a hotbed for metal and which has caused him some issues with Bandcamp/PayPal (which you can read more about, as well as sign his Change.org petition regarding the situation, here). According to Metal Archives—which I realize isn’t always 100% accurate—there are currently only six active bands from the former Soviet Republic. Just being a geographical anomaly, though, isn’t really enough to make a band worth listening to. Fortunately, the ridiculously prolific Guliyev, who has released 30+ singles and EPs along with four full-lengths since 2013, is also really fucking good at this black metal thing. This leads me to the other interesting thing about Violet Cold – his music seems to be driven by a creative restlessness that, at least in terms of his full-lengths, means that he’s never really made the same record twice.
Like most people, I first became aware of Violet Cold with the release of his first long player Desperate Dreams in 2015. A very strange album that combined synth-pop/house music with post-black metal, it actually proved to be much more effective than it probably had any right to be (at least on paper), and firmly established Guliyev as a talent worth keeping an eye on. 2016 saw him release two more full-lengths: the more second-wave Norwegian-leaning Magic Night, which saw him replace the synth-pop sections with lush piano and (I’m guessing synthesized) string interludes, and Neuronaut, a blackened harsh noise record.
Anomie, which was released independently digitally and on CD this past February and Fólkvangr and Tridroid records are about to reissue on cassette and LP, sees him return to black metal/blackgaze, but with a much wider range of influences including folk metal, some post-punk, and a whole lot of atomspheric indie/post-rock in the vein of Agalloch. Both “Anomie” and “Violet Girl, ” and “No Escape From Dreamland” all incorporate what certainly sounds like some kind of traditional flute, which gives the songs a kind of texture that hasn’t really been heard before in a Violet Cold song. One of the highlights of the record is the gorgeous, shimmery indie rock-driven “She Spoke of Her Devastation,” which is a drastic reworking of an almost glitchy, synth-heavy track he released as a single in 2014. The other standout is “Lovegaze,” which sounds a bit like a cross between New Order from their pseudo-arena rock phase and the more emo-leaning post-black metal of A Pregnant Light. Several tracks on the record, most notably the ambient opening section of “My Journey to Your Space,” feature spoken passages by an unidentified female voice that I assume are in Turkish like the rest of the lyrics which add both a layer of mystery to the record, and more than a touch of romanticism.
So like I said roughly 500 words ago at the beginning of this review, Violet Cold’s Anomie is basically a perfect album of genre-busting atmospheric/post-black metal that is very pretty and kind of sad. I fucking love this record to pieces, and, much like this past January when the dean of pro wrestling journalists Dave Meltzer was so blown away by the Kazuchika Okada/Kenny Omega match at Wrestle Kingdom 11 that he gave it the first-ever six stars on a five star scale rating, I cannot recommend it highly enough.