Regardless of Me – Black Flowers Blossom Review

Six years into this gig, and I still largely choose albums from the promo pool by name and/or genre tag. While I like to review a diverse array of sub-genres, it’s tough for me to not pick the low hanging fruit of obscure tags. The prospect of “trance metal” was an enticing one indeed, and it was from this that I selected Italy’s Regardless of Me and their fourth full-length entitled Black Flowers Blossom. The one-sheet’s blurb was all the more entertaining, referencing the “the sparkling truth in consciousness,” “a whirlwind of souls driving by chance,” and “the nihilistic plan of the universe.” Lofty topics indeed for a trance metal record and topics I was keen to interrogate further.

As a jumping-off point, that trance metal tag turns out to be a satisfactory one. The way the riffs interplay with the synths, and a beat that pulses and moves appropriately, bridges the two styles. But the weaving of these two composite genres is hardly subtle or sophisticated, so I’ll consider them separately. The fuller metal passages broadly fit under the death metal umbrella but it’s modern in tone, reasonably melodic, vaguely industrial, and vaguely core-influenced, hinting towards Children of Bodom, Meshuggah, and Subversion. However, these hints never achieve the quality of these influences; the riffs become bland and repetitive within moments, while the drums are relegated to a background thwacking sound. Meanwhile, the electronic parts largely belong to the trance camp but snippets of synthwave and darksynth creep through. They’re passable but hardly go further than that. Rounding out this package are slightly nasally, high pitched vocals. The singer sounds strained at her upper range, and beyond this, she almost has the pitch and vibrato of a power metal vocalist which doesn’t particularly fit the music. I prefer the very brief forays into proper clean singing and harsh vocals, at which point she sounds more comfortable.

Despite the deficiencies above which would have always limited this to a sub-par release (forgettable riffs on a metal album? Hello, 2.0 maximum score), the real villain here is the production. I palpably shuddered on hearing the first synth note of the opening track (“Nebula”), as the severely limited master reared its ugly head. This moment is all the more jarring as it sounds like it begins mid-chord, and it’s so loud. Faux orchestral strings and a piano progress this introduction, before the riffs and drums hit around the mid-point. It’s immediately evident that the production is the opposite of subtle. The mix fails at balancing the different instrumentation as rather than differing instruments operating at different layers, each sounds like it’s trying to be the loudest at the top. The individual parts don’t co-exist and instead fight each other. This results in a squashed mix that sounds unintentionally dense, where the guitars, drums, bass and synths are tough to trace throughout. I’ve mentioned above that the riffs are forgettable; this may be because you can barely pick them apart. This, along with the brick-walled master, ensures that Black Flowers Blossom is a difficult record to stomach for one track, let alone 12 of them.

What of the songwriting, you ask? Much of the album features introductions that reach close to a minute before changing entirely for the track proper. They’re there as window dressing, but don’t actually fit the songs which follow. These passages and the metal-inflected verses which follow aren’t even bridged effectively, as in some cases the introductions simply stop, there’s a pause, and then the entirely separate verse follows. It’s discordant and undermines any purpose behind the openings (if indeed there was any). When you reach the actual songs behind the needless embellishments, I’m struck that while the singer is reasonably melodic and each track has a chorus, I’m completely disinterested in both. Not once have I felt the urge to sing along or even enjoyed a recurring melody. Certainly there’s no enjoyment to be found in the guitar leads. On the writing and construction of the album as a whole, there are electronic-dominated interludes just after the mid-point on “Cassiopeia” and before the finale on “Carbon.” In theory, they aren’t horrible, but “Carbon” is then followed by the soft, limp conclusion called “We Fall.” I don’t understand why an interlude would precede a soft ending as it means the record, crappy though it is, finishes with an especially flat feeling.

Poor songs, poor production, poor replayability, poor arrangement. I’d almost be inspired to anger if I wasn’t simultaneously so bored. Everything on this record sucks to begin and sucks even more with repetition. At every juncture, Regardless of Me surveyed their options and chose the shittiest route. I really see no redeeming qualities on Black Flowers Blossom. The one positive I can enjoy is that 2020 has been an excellent year for music in general; I will enjoy this year, regardless of Regardless of Me.

Rating: 0.5/5.0
DR: 4 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Boersma Records
Releases Worldwide: September 11th, 2020

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