'Broken Crown Halo'
Release Date: 31/03/14
Italian goth Metallers Lacuna Coil have been around since 1994 and have worked hard on making their brand of dual male/female lead vocal metal a success around the world to the point where they have sold two million albums worldwide and have hit as high as number 15 in the US Billboard album chart.
They are a big deal in terms of European Metal then and this, their seventh full-length studio album has been much anticipated in some quarters.
My own take on the band has been that the dual vocal style can be a bit of an acquired taste and that the songwriting can be inconsistent. In an attempt to get away from accusations that all their songs sound the same the band have tried going for a heavy downtuned sound or moving in a lighter, poppier direction in previous albums but initial impressions on this one are that they've kept it metal with the guitars right up there in your face.
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Opener 'Nothing Stands In Our Way' sets out the stall nicely with some nice crunchy, riffing guitars, mellow verses with nice vocals from Cristina Scabbia and a catchy, chanting chorus using Andrea Ferro's voice really well.
'Zombie' has the singers changing places and it's Andrea that holds the verses, doing more singing rather than the shouty style he uses sometimes and this is another heavy riffing energetic number with a superb guitar solo to boot, something I never really think about when the name lacuna Coil comes up.
'Hostage To The Light' sees them back to the mid paced style they're most famous for but still retains an edge which makes it a notch above the majority of their output. 'Victims' however comes over as more of the same so it's good news that 'Die And Rise' turns the guitar riffing back up and drives along a bit harder on the way to its' typical Lacuna Coil dual vocal chorus.
'I Forget(But I Won't Forget Your Names)' is a sort of cross between their more ethereal, gothic early material and their flirtation with pop sensibilities and it actually works rather well while 'Cybersleep' is a vehicle for Ms Scabbia to show off her emotive vocal skills without interruption from her vocal partner. It certainly proves she could front the band on her own if they wanted that.
'Infection' goes back to dual vocals and is a competent track which fits in with the vibe of the album without standing out while 'I Burn In You' lacks the intensity its' title suggests despite a nice line in harmonies and little eastern flavourings added to the mix.
The album does feel like it's tailing off at the end after a strong start and 'In The End I Feel Alive' doesn't help as it could be lifted from pretty much any album they've made. It's left to the six minutes of 'One Cold Day' to save the last third of the album then and it just about manages that by being different. It's really an epic, melancholy ballad Lacuna Coil style again dominated by the female side of the vocal duo and using nicely atmospheric keyboards and even a string section.
Verdict: If you are a huge Lacuna Coil fan I'm pretty sure you will enjoy this album, they have added a few tweaks and twists to their sound without varying too much from what has sold all those albums up to now.
As someone more ambivalent about the band I found the album a little uneven but enjoyable with some of the songs sounding like they will rock hard in a live environment and a much improved performance vocally from Andrea Ferro who was a weak point for me in the past. This is an album well worth a listen in either case though.
Cristina Scabbia – vocals
Andrea Ferro – vocals
Marco 'Maus' Biazzi – guitar
Cristiano 'Pizza' Migliore – guitar
Marco “Maki” Coti-Zelati – bass
Cristiano “Criz” Mozzati – drums