Music Reviews

Red Roses For a Blue Lady

The Return to Melancholy


Only in America could such ideologically and aesthetically disparate genres as metal-core, emo-rock, and death metal come together in a musical clash – let alone one so caustic and cathartic – as they do on Red Roses For a Blue Lady’s debut album, The Return to Melancholy. To this writer’s knowledge, no other bands are of Red Roses’ ilk, but if they do exist, The Return to Melancholy will soon become the gold standard for the Gainesville, Florida quintet’s contemporaries to aspire to.

The most marked element on The Return to Melancholy is its chaos, which is hardly a pejorative term in the slightest. From song structures to the band’s studied looseness, chaos permeates the whole record, staccato riffs raining down from every direction, blood boiling over during nearly every second, vocalist Kyle Borchgardt’s pained growls barely steering the violence in a semi-linear direction, the whole bludgeon subtly belying the fact that Red Roses actually have tight chops but prefer to let the intensity breathe to its fullest extent. This bludgeon, however, is more than just a little sprinkled with weeping, mournful melody and, at times, stunning breakdowns replete with clean, chorused guitar; sure, Red Roses may go for the jugular more often than not, but there’s more on their minds than mere anger.

Granted, hardcore and metal have been more-than-convenient bedfellows during the past 15 years, but the way guitarists Kenneth Sulak and Mark Mitchell make hardcore riffs sound so death metal (and vice versa), in the end, it just makes perfect sense. Relatingly, a cursory read of the lyrics – all dealing with such teary-eyed subjects as loneliness, broken relationships, sensitivity, and other things quintessentially “emo” – may convey a certain wimpiness at odds with the attack-minded content, but in the general context of the album, again, it just makes sense. And at the end of the day, shouldn’t great music just make sense?

Adventurous music for adventurous minds, The Return to Melancholy is a record which will garner “love it” or “hate it” reactions (and little in between), but the album is that much better for it. Let’s just hope Red Roses don’t pull the standard hardcore vanishing act before they’ve even had the chance to spread their wings.

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