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The Sublime Rage of Bladee’s Cold Visions

A mere four hours after dropping the lead single, Bladee dropped his latest album at 5 p.m EST on a Tuesday. The shockingly consistent 30-track long Cold Visions is his longest release to date, clocking in at just over an hour long with an average track length of barely over 2 minutes. Despite the shortness of the tracks, none of them ever feel underbaked, with just about every non-interlude track sporting a few memorable lines or awe-inspiring production. Cold Visions is a move away from the happier, more whimsically meditative sounds of recent albums like 2022’s Spiderr and Crest, returning to the vibes of projects like Eversince, Red Light, Icedancer, and most noticeably Working on Dying, the 2017 mixtape built around production from the music collective of the same name (as said on the second track “WODRAINER,” “Working on Dying 2 - You thought I was lying it’s true”).

16 of the 30 tracks on Cold Visions feature production from Working on Dying member F1lthy, best known for the “rage” style beats he has produced for artists like Playboi Carti and Ken Carson, provides some of his best beats possibly ever, including the disorientingly aggressive “KING NOTHINGG” and the throbbing “ONE SECOND.” Other producers present on the album include RipSquad member Lusi, James Ferraro, and Drain Gang affiliates Yung Sherman and Whitearmor. Skrillex is also featured as a producer on the track “D.O.A,”  providing a poppier beat that seems to sample “Trendy,” a track from Bladee’s 2021 album The Fool.

Cold Visions is more than just a sonic departure from the Drain Gang member’s recent output; it’s a massive departure in the lyrics department as well. While there are still some of the bizarre and comedic lines he’s gained a penchant for in recent years (“I’m stepping on the court, man - You’re watching Youtube Shorts, man”, “I bought a thousand Smurfs on Ebay, I was on shrooms needless to say”), Bladee turns away from the optimistic tone of Spiderr to discuss mental health problems, expectations (“I DONT LIKE PEOPLE, “CANT END ON A LOSS (OUTRO 1)), and struggles with addiction and relapse (“DONT DO DRUGZ”). The album is also chock-full of self-referential moments, ranging from the aforementioned self-sampling “D.O.A,” innumerable references to previous tracks or lyrics, and even a reference to a 2017 Instagram post caption on “FUN FACT” (“I’m with Lean, buying the Gucci store, it’s like breathing air”). Many of these references work to turn Cold Visions into an experience not unlike looking at his old discography through a shattered mirror; all of these callbacks feel almost intentionally bizarre in Cold Visions’ hostile environment. The throbbing and almost psychedelic rage beats and the departure from the hook-iness of all of his other projects make Cold Visions feel foreign. All of these themes come to a head on the track “CANT END ON A LOSS,” where Bladee grapples with his past and his future, expressing doubt in the career and life that he has led.Not long ago, I half-jokingly compared this album to Metal Gear Solid 4, a game that practically weaponizes nostalgia against the player, disenchanting much of the franchise to that point, de-glorifying its own mythos. Cold Visions operates similarly; where old Bladee did, to an extent, romanticize his problems, he now seems to feel trapped in them.

Above all else, Cold Visions is an absolute blast to listen to. In the few days since it has dropped, it has quickly and easily become my most played album of the year (and likely to become one of my most played in general). Bladee manages to stay catchy even while often forsaking the hooks that he usually excels at writing, making every single track (bar the interludes) both memorable and fun. All of the featured vocalists are at the top of their game, with Yung Lean, Thaiboy Digital, and Sickboyrari (a.k.a. Black Kray) delivering amazing verses (multiple times in the case of Yung Lean). Cold Visions may well be one of Bladee’s most cohesive and overall best projects to date, as well as perhaps the single greatest album to drop in the currently exploding rage scene. 


Best Moments: The part of “ONLY GOD IS MADE PERFECT” where the Cold Visions tag interrupts the song mid-bar, the screaming samples on “KING NOTHINGG,” the outro of “YUNG SHERMAN”

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