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Regardless of Me - Pleasures and Fear
CD Reviews
Written by Sara Letourneau   
Tuesday, 12 July 2011
Regardless of Me - CD Review
Pleasures and Fear
Regardless of Me - Pleasures and Fear

 

CD Info

2011

Unexploded Records / Italy

9 Tracks

English Lyrics

 

The term "evolve" is not a new one when it comes to music. When music evolves, an artist adds or abandons certain elements in a gradual manner, usually from one album to the next. Other artists, however, do what I call a complete overhaul of their sound, a sort of "revolution." Think of it as barreling into new territory at top speed without giving your fellow riders much warning. That’s how I’d describe the new sound of Regardless of Me. The Italian quartet left its mark on the metal scene with its 2009 debut album, The World Within, a hypnotic mix of trip-hop and alternative and progressive metal. Now, with its new album Pleasures and Fear, Regardless of Me charges into the realm of melodic progressive industrial death metal – a gutsy move that could ensure Regardless of Me’s place in female-fronted metal while polarizing the band’s fanbase.

Actually, in some ways, the change isn’t that drastic. Pleasures and Fear has many similarities with its predecessor: lots of keyboards and drum machines, rousing refrains, Pamela Manzo’s alluring voice, and Emiliano Sicilia’s slicing-and-dicing on guitars. However, while The World Within is a relatively laid-back record, on Pleasures and Fear Regardless of Me fills its car engine with rocket fuel and slams its foot on the accelerator. The new tunes are faster in tempo, longer, louder, and as chaotic as the name of the band’s new style suggests. Oh, and Sicilia provides that vital death metal element in the form of (too frequent) orc-like growls. Altogether, it sounds like the love child of Nine Inch Nails, Meshuggah, and Deadlock. It seems frightening, but Regardless of Me obviously wanted to make a more interesting record. And, that’s what we’ve got with Pleasures and Fear.

From start to finish, Pleasures and Fear hurtles along with a non-stop kind of energy that’s sinister yet contagious. Songs such as "Until I Die," "Made of Steel," and "My Bitter End" plunge into robo-metal mayhem, all dominated by assertive riffs, Sicilia’s roars, and Manzo’s charismatic vocals. "Until I Die" in particular is the best serving of Regardless of Me’s new musical banquet. Frantic keyboards, blips, and bleeps trickle through the discord as Sicilia trades off lines with Manzo, who belts out the irresistible chorus. "The Way You Are," the album’s most concise and guitar-driven track, is also an instant highlight.

Pleasures and Fear does slow down enough to allow for some contrasts. The title-track intro hints at the bedlam to come, but not before showering the listener with synths and cosmic fizzling. "Dispositions," the lone midtempo number, shows off Manzo’s vocal range as well as her mesmerizing harmonies with bassist Enrico Cassano. However, no song on Pleasures and Fear swoops from one side of the musical spectrum to the other like the 13-minute opus "Under a Darkened Sky." You get chugging rhythms and visceral bellows interspersed with soft acoustic passages, jazzy interludes, and verses begging for stadium sing-alongs. That all comes before the track culminates with a zen-like trip-hop outro. Calling "Under a Darkened Sky" a rollercoaster ride would be a grave understatement.

And in some ways, "Under a Darkened Sky" is a one-song summary of Pleasures and Fear. Parts of it are stunning and catchy, but other parts are rowdy and spastic because the music flails all over the place. Is Regardless of Me relying on too wide a palette of influences? Or, is the band still shaping its desired style? I can’t tell – I have to block my ears sometimes because Pleasures and Fear gets too loud, technical, and grunt-laden. Also, somewhere in the final mix of the music is a weird rattling that doesn’t follow the drumbeats. Maybe it’s coming from the bass or the rhythm guitar. Nonetheless, it’s a terrible distraction for the listener. My final qualm about Pleasures and Fear is the snarling rendition of Madonna’s "Frozen."  I give Regardless of Me credit for successfully putting its own spin on a well-known pop song. But, the new version deserts the original’s beauty and sorrow for a state of anarchic detachment that listeners will struggle to relate to.

Thus, Pleasures and Fear should come with a sticker on the front cover labeled "Not For The Faint At Heart." Regardless of Me had hinted in past interviews that their music would change, but hints never prepare you for the real thing. That’s why the new record’s raw intensity and feral energy strike like a sudden gust of wind. Once recovered from the shock, though, listeners will discover that the jumble of old and new elements makes Pleasures and Fear much more fascinating than The World Within. Some fans will be thrilled with the new album for this reason. Others who expected The World Within Part 2 or (like myself) preferred the band’s original, more restrained style will still admire the band’s newfound ambition – but, after having their hearing manipulated for over 50 minutes, they may think twice about giving Pleasures and Fear a permanent place in their music collection.

7.5 / 10

Best Songs: "Until I Die," "From a Darkened Sky," "The Way You Are"

Recommended for fans of Theatre of Tragedy, The Project Hate, L’ame Immortelle, Amaranthe, and other fans of industrial metal or death metal

Pleasures and Fear is currently not available at the Sonic Cathedral store. However, you can find it at Amazon, Nuclear Blast, and many other online music shops.

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