Thursday, March 27, 2014

Review - Lacuna Coil's "Broken Crown Halo"

Broken Crown Halo
 Lacuna Coil

   This came across my desk this morning. Fulll disclosure, I can't say I've listened to Lacuna Coil since their biggest album Comalies. I recall seeing them on a few tours including the New England Metal and Hardcore Fest and Ozzfest. It was at the time when female leads were becoming the "in" thing. The band was good. They had a signature sound. The growling vocals of Andrea Ferro over the strong yet still clean vocals of Cristina Scabbia hit the mainstream at a time when the "aggro" sound was really popular. Cristina's gothic super model looks were marketed right and the band was featured on many a glossy rock and metal magazine. The songwriting was dark enough to give them a vital spot in the metal scene versus bands like Evanescence, another female lead band, that never seemed to truly break out from the "Hard Pop Rock" circuit.
   The band recently retooled their lineup as both Cristiano's(Piz and Crizza) retired. Given that I'm not that familiar with what they've been up to since Comalies, I'll compare this album to that earlier material.

   First impression, the production is precise and clean. If you compare Lacuna Coil's recordings to their live performances, you're gonna notice a bit more of an Italian accent when Cristina sings that you wont find on disc. That's still happening on this album. Cristina has the pipes to belt out some really passionate lyrics and this album has some really good moments. Her range on "Cybersleep" is up there with some of her best stuff on Comalies. The single "Nothing Stands in Our Way" is pretty much what I'm expecting from them. It's not breaking any new ground but that's not necessarily a bad thing. "Zombies" works pretty well as as it incorporates a bit of an industrial sound and it's catchy as hell. "Hostage to the Light" is a soaring tune that has some really well written lyrics. "Victims" is not their strongest moment on the album. Andrea's vocals are great but the songwriting is generic self empowerment schlock I've heard a million times before. "Die & Rise" has a really fun dance groove and reminds me a bit of il Nino. "I Forgive (But I Won't Forget Your Name) has a nice back and forth quality between the more straightforward singing takes of both vocalists. It's a slower moving track that continues to incorporate underlying industrial and electronic elements. Like I said before "Cybersleep" is a great tune. I'll forgive the autotune moments as most of the song has a James Bondish classiness too it. Seriously I could hear this on a Bond soundtrack. If I'm at a Lacuna Coil show this is one of the songs I'd wanna hear and sing along to. 
   "Infection" sounds like one of their earlier tunes and fits the album well. The lyrics remind me a lot of Dream Theater's "Drag Me Under". "I Burn In You" is a middle eastern tinged ballad. It has a strong Game of Thrones vibe and I can almost imagine the lyrics being translated into dialogue between Khaleesi and her husband. "In the End I Feel Alive" is a decent tune with some nice orchestral and experimental moments towards the end. Not as memorable as the earlier tracks. The closer "One Cold Day" feels like a closer. It has a colder feel to it while Cristina's vocals sound really high like they'd fit better in a Disney movie than a gothic metal track. I can see where they are trying to go with it but it doesn't come off as legit as their more epic tunes. Maybe it's the fact that the band is trying to live up to what fans expect from them. Epic songs, Epic albums become that on their own. This album is good but it does not naturally feel as immense as their earlier work nor nearly as dark. If you're a Lacuna Coil fan you're not gonna find a "Heaven is a Lie" moment on this but it might be just enough of what you expect to satiate your appetite til their next album.
- grownman

Lacuna Coil is
Cristina Scabbia — lead vocals (1996–present)
Marco Coti Zelati — bass, keyboards (1994–present)
Andrea Ferro — lead vocals (1994–present)
Marco "Maus" Biazzi — guitars (1999–present)

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