Quick Review: “The Last Rain” by Cân Bardd

When an artist or a band decides to mix together different styles and influences, the result usually depends on two main factors: first, it’s necessary that the various components are well-balanced and there is not one that prevails excessively on the other; then, it’s desirable that such a combination of ingredients produces a music that’s original as it’s enjoyable and nice to hear. The Last Rain, which is the new album released by Cân Bardd, aims at blending together atmospheric black metal with folk music. And the goal is achieved with excellent results on all fronts: fluidity, balance and originality.

To make things even more amazing, we shall consider that Cân Bardd is basically a one-man-band project created by Malo Civelli, from Switzerland, and that The Last Rain is just his second LP after last year’s debut LP Nature Stays Silent. Everything suggests here that we’re in front of another creative genius of black atmospheric music and, in this respect, it’s fairly curious that this album arrives just a few weeks after we enjoyed Emin Guliyev‘s new Violet Cold LP. Civelli and Guliyev evidently share the same tastes for atmospheric and evocative music, but also a similar approach to composition and recording.

As said, Marco Civelli plays all the main instruments that we hear in his songs: guitars, bass, vocals and keyboards. Keyboards and orchestration, in particular, seem to play a fairly important role in Civelli’s music and it’s not by chance that he’s also the keyboardist of another Swiss folk metal act called Kaatarakt, which has released to date a couple of nice EPs. As we could expect, atmospheric and folk components have a prominent role in The Last Rain. In the album, there are really many long sections, and even one entire song (Fog of War), without the presence of a proper metal section. This stylistic choice creates a situation in which the artist draws fascinating and evocative musical landscapes that slowly become darker, and incrementally loaded with underlying energy and tension until the heaviest sections eventually arrive and shock the listener with dramatic power and the intrinsic sadness of black metal progressions. This process takes place with remarkable naturalness, and the softer and heavier moments alternate in an absolutely brilliant way. As a matter of fact, The Last Rain demonstrates a maturity of songwriting and also a musical sensibility that many bands reach only after decades of extensive playing, if they get it at all.

The Last Rain is an excellent new entry in that category of albums which manage to combine elegance with desperation, delicacy with heaviness, originality with enjoyability. And it’s also a work that allows us to appreciate the qualities of a promising musician, one who has managed to achieve an impressive level of maturity in the time-span of just a few years.

My overall rating for the LP is 7/10. My favourite song of the album is Celestial Horizon.

The Last Rain is available on Bandcamp and it can be streamed also from Spotify.

Quick Review: “Kosmik” by Violet Cold

Multi-instrumentalist and composer Emin Guliyev, who’s the artist behind the project Violet Cold, in addition to being gifted with extraordinary creativity and musical sensibility, is also an extremely prolific composer, at the point that honestly, it’s becoming every year more difficult to stay up to date with all of his releases. Active since 2013, he published three EPs in 2014, a compilation and a debut LP in 2015, two other full-length albums in 2016, another in 2017 (the impressive and acclaimed Anomie), a triple-LP in 2018 and now – that’s only February – we have his first LP for 2019, the brand new Kosmik. Dear Emin, I had the chance to spend a few days in your beautiful Country (Azerbaijan), and also in your city (Baku). This is one of that rare places in the World where we can find a beautiful environment that’s deeply rooted into an ancient and varied culture, with many different influences that have found a magical point of balance. Now, my question is: how much time do you spend in your recording studio? Why don’t you try to stay a little more outside and enjoy all the beauty that is around you?

I’m joking, it’s clear. But to some extent, I really feel that last year, for example, I couldn’t enjoy and appreciate the Sommermorgen trilogy with the patience and dedication that it should have required. Also because Guliyev’s music is far from being easy to listen, or superficial. First of all, because in Violet Cold we have together lots of many different components, and from extremely distant genres spanning from jazz to post-rock, and including ambient, noise rock and also depressive black metal. Secondly, because the songs are all made to be appreciated with the maximum possible concentration. The experience of listening to Violet Cold with the lights off, ideally with high-quality headphones and the music at a sufficiently high volume, remains one of the most beautiful you may have with music. These aren’t songs made to be played with the car stereo while driving in the traffic. Listening to Violet Cold demands for special environmental conditions, and enough time to dedicate to music and nothing else.

Everything I said in general for Violet Cold, it applies also to Kosmik. It is a profound and immersive record, full of many interesting elements to discover. For his new work, Guliyev has returned to insert large quantities of black metal into the music, with the album easily classifiable as post-black metal or blackgaze. There is however a persistent elegance in all the tracks of the album since the brutal and dark aspects of black metal have been mostly filtered out. What we hear in the songs of Kosmik is basically a number of overlapping layers of distortions and tremolos, on top of which Guliyev introduces melodic atmospheres and far away screams. The result is a contrast between different opposites which creates a feeling of suspension, and transcendence. At times we hear voices reciting verses in a foreign language (presumably Azerbaijani), creating an intriguing and very particular effect.

Differently from the typical structure of a post-metal song, where there is a crescendo of intensity that culminates in an explosion of noises and energy, in the songs of Kosmik the sonic attack is immediate. And as we advance into each song, the walls of sounds slowly turn into something more melodic and atmospheric, leaving at the end of each piece a sense of positivity that is, in the end, one of the main notes that emerge from the album. A further confirmation of this aspect is the fact that 36 minutes journey of Kosmim culminates with a beautiful and dreamy reinterpretation of the famous Aria on the fourth string by J. S. Bach, which transfers the feeling that the cosmic voyage through the chaos and the noise of the outer world is over, and we have reached a dimension of pure light and peace.

In summary, Kosmic is definitely another valuable entry in an impressive discography from one of the most prolific authors of recent times. The style of music is extremely particular and it has the potential to attract lovers of at least two different genres of music (ambient and black), but also to disappoint both. As far as I’m concerned, I’m very satisfied with this new record from Violet Cold, and my overall rating is 7/10.

My favourite songs are Ultraviolet and Black Sun.

Kosmic is available on Bandcamp and it can be streamed also from Spotify.