Review Summary: Lacuna Coil aren't breaking down any barriers, but they have returned with another album that emphasizes their best qualities while fixing a few previous mistakes.
Since the release of their very first EP, it was obvious that Lacuna Coil were going to eventually break into the mainstream. Early in their career it seemed that everything went right for them. Their first few albums helped to build them some solid credibility, and with the release of Comalies
they had also finally managed to catch the attention of the music-listening public at large. Lacuna Coil’s first real issue arose when they attempted to make that final leap into the mainstream. Instead of continuing to build on a success that had come without compromise, the band decided to integrate the musical flavor of the week into Karmacode
– nu-metal. Unfortunately, the band were a little late to the party and the album dropped at a time when even the nu-metal originators were attempting to distance themselves from the genre. As good as a few of the tracks were, it was just too easy to dismiss the thick Korn
-influenced bass and start/stop rhythms that dominated a majority of the songs. Rather than succumb to the criticism and return to their roots, Lacuna Coil pressed forward with Shallow Life
; an album that jumped headlong into the oversaturated world of mainstream rock. The funny thing is that, compared to Karmacode
, the album at least felt honest and built on the band’s strengths.
Despite any nostalgic memories, the truth of the matter is that Lacuna Coil have never been good at much. They’ve always succeeded based on their ability to write moderately catchy tunes performed by a hot Italian female, and that was what Shallow Life
emphasized. Based on that observation, it should come as no surprise to discover that Dark Adrenaline
builds on that foundation but also reintegrates just enough of the band’s early days to set it apart. That means that all of the songs are still built on a mainstream rock aesthetic and everything that comes with it – songs centered on big choruses, moderately-paced tempos, and fairly linear structures – but that the band have returned a bit of the heaviness and gothy atmospheres, as well. It might not sound like much, but it turns out to be more than enough to allow this album to surpass anything the band has done in years. The first single, “Trip the Darkness”, features some chunky riffing and doesn’t skimp on the heaviness (relatively speaking… this is Lacuna Coil, after all), but also manages to sneak in a dark melodic undercurrent over a huge chorus.
For better or worse, that blueprint is repeated throughout just about the entire album. Each track manages to belt out some decently heavy riffs while maintaining a moody ambience that sets the foundation for the dual vocal delivery of Cristina Scabbia and Andrea Ferro. Their names are worth mentioning because the album’s success (as with each of their previous albums) rides on their voices. This has always been kind of a dual-edge sword because Cristina’s voice has been consistently great while Andrea has come off as a second-rate David Draiman (Disturbed
) at best, and a tone-deaf liability at all other times. This wasn’t such an issue back when he was belting out the occasional growl and playing second-fiddle to Cristina, but as the band has become bigger so has his role in the band. It is the opinion of many fans that he has single-handedly ruined certain songs in the band’s discography, but he isn’t all that bad this time around. In fact, he can even be seen as a positive element throughout most of the album by doing an admirable job of providing the edge to Cristina’s smooth delivery. Together they manage to create some very strong and memorable choruses, and help to make the band’s mainstream leanings a success.
There are always going to be those that will accept nothing less than Comalies
part II, and you can’t say that it will never happen, but it didn’t happen here. For now Lacuna Coil are perfectly content to experiment with a combination of mainstream rock and a few older influences and it works wonderfully. The band’s renewed focus on heavy riffs and moody atmospheres has gone a long way towards fixing the few things that were wrong with Shallow Life
, and it hasn’t lessened the impact of their big choruses at all. If Lacuna Coil are going to keep trying to create their own personal version of modern mainstream metal, they’re doing a pretty good job. While Dark Adrenaline
doesn’t break down any barriers and won’t win any points for originality, it is still a very solid release and probably the best thing Lacuna Coil have done in almost a decade.