Lacuna Coil
Broken Crown Halo


2.5
average

Review

by Andrew Gold CONTRIBUTOR (68 Reviews)
April 4th, 2014 | 20 replies | 5,448 views


Release Date: 04/01/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Glaring inconsistencies and failed experimentation prevent Broken Crown Halo from being as good as it should have been.

Lacuna Coil is one of the many bands to begin with a consistently evolving sound only to succumb to the perils of mainstream rock. The return of the band’s middle-eastern tinge sprinkled throughout their previous radio metal album Dark Adrenaline, however, bolstered the notion that Lacuna Coil have no intention of completely selling themselves out to the blood-sucking mainstream industry just yet. Broken Crown Halo continues in this regard, pulling even further from the radio-friendly sound and exploring some interesting new ideas in the process. The problem is that branching out isn’t always a good thing, especially when toying with a formula that worked fairly well in the past. Broken Crown Halo is not an inherently bad album, but there are glaring inconsistencies that prevent it from being as good as it should have been.

The contrast between vocalists Cristina Scabbia and Andrea Ferro is akin to beauty and the beast – Scabbia being the beauty, both aurally and aesthetically, and Ferro as the hairy, tone-deaf behemoth (with the best of intentions). Unfortunately, despite how hard Ferro tries to be a valued member of the band, he’s just not very good of a singer. He has a hollow, shout-y voice with no sense of pitch, and even when harmonizing with Scabbia he has the tendency to drift in and out of tune. His screams, as infrequent as they are, fare much better, and add a layer of darkness to the already gothic nature of the music. Scabbia, however, is the elegant grace that makes Lacuna Coil so appealing – she has an angelic timbre to her voice and has the ability to create beautifully infectious melodies over even the most mundane progressions (see “Hostage to the Light”). She also has impeccable range, and the higher she sings, the more entrancing her voice becomes. While her low register isn’t nearly as powerful, she rarely has the need for it since Ferro handles the lower harmonies, allowing her to blissfully soar above the music with majestic eloquence.

On Broken Crown Halo, however, the lines between Scabbia’s beauty and Ferro’s beastliness are blurred. There are times where Scabbia is the most unappealing aspect of the song, and others when Ferro himself is carrying the tune. Opener “Nothing Stands in Our Way” in particular begins with a nicely sung verse by Christina, but proceeds into a monotonous chorus with no sense of purpose or direction; Ferro’s backing yells are what give the song most of its charm, that is, if it had any to begin with. Also, Scabbia’s low-sung verses on “Victims” are as dull as they are forgettable; not to mention her horrific, atonal yelled passage about two-thirds into the song (“People told me I was weak/I told them I’ll never quit/I will never quit!”) – an easy contender for the worst moment of the band’s career. However, there are plenty of times when their voices play off each other’s nicely, as they have in the past. Ferro takes the lead on the second track, “Zombies,” giving the verses a welcome angst-y tone before progressing into a beautifully sung chorus by Scabbia, made even better by Ferro’s anger-fueled screams backing her up. Furthermore, album highlight “Infection” has some of the best vocal work from both parties: the verses have a classic Lacuna Coil vibe with Scabbia’s remarkable vocal melodies and Ferro providing a raspy whisper in between her phrases; the pre-chorus keeps Ferro on a single, stagnant note with Scabbia tastefully harmonizing above; the Ferro-sung chorus sounds like it was taken straight from Dark Adrenaline (in a good way), and Scabbia joins in as the song progresses, making the climax of the song one of the album’s finest moments.

Musically, Broken Crown Halo is all over the place. There are your standard groove-based tracks we’ve come to expect from post-Comalies Lacuna Coil (Nothing Stands in Our Way, Infection, In the End I Feel Alive), a handful of weighty power ballads (I Forgive, Cybersleep, One Cold Day), and even a nu-metal inspired aberration that could pass as a Slipknot B-side (Die & Rise). This scope of diversity is a fresh change of pace from the mainstream metal style that encompassed Dark Adrenaline, but sometimes the ideas flat out don’t work. “I Forgive (But I Won’t Forget Your Name)” begins promisingly enough with moody melancholic chords, but all potential is lost as soon as Ferro’s abhorrent verse comes in; and Scabbia’s chorus yearns to be powerful and moving, but its drab repetition results in it sounding both irritating and perfunctory. Aforementioned “Die & Rise” sounds like a failed abortion off Karmacode, made worse by the horribly out-of-place harmonized Italian “chant” thrown carelessly into the mix. There are flashes of greatness, though, as shown by the riff-driven “Infection,” the luscious melodies of “Cybersleep” (which itself epitomizes a rock ballad done right), and best of all, the emotive closer dedicated to recently deceased former band member Claudio Leo. “One Cold Day” is a 6-minute, vocally driven somber ballad, with ominous piano and strings in the background providing a hauntingly beautiful ambience to it all. It showcases the best use of dynamic restraint on the album, alternating between soothing verses and a heavy chorus, then ending with the same dark piano motif with which it began – it’s simply beautiful: easily the best song they’ve written since their Comalies days, and possibly of their entire career.

It’s easy to dismiss most of Lacuna Coil’s new material as radio friendly cash grabs, but Broken Crown Halo tries to change this reputation they’ve built for themselves, for better or worse. There are genuine moments of brilliance (the entirety of “One Cold Day”), genuine moments of atrocity (the verses in “I Burn in You” should never have been conceived, ever), and genuine moments of what the fuck? (Scabbia’s faux-rap in “Victims”); and in the end, it’s this ubiquitous inconsistency that plagues Broken Crown Halo and results in the whole not being as great as the sum of its parts.



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user ratings (74)
Chart.
2.8
good
other reviews of this album
Ben Kuettel (3)
Blending in elements from past releases with a few surprises, Broken Crown Halo is a solid release f...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Insurrection
Contributing Reviewer
April 4th 2014



20796 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

album has its moments

Digging: Interpol - El Pintor

TPM731
April 4th 2014



236 Comments


Nice review. Not sure if I should check this out.

Calc
April 4th 2014



12147 Comments


album title sounds like a legendary helm from diablo 3

Digging: Jizue - Shiori

dannyboy89
April 4th 2014



11955 Comments


Sweet review Ins.

Insurrection
Contributing Reviewer
April 5th 2014



20796 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

thanks meng

PistolPete
April 5th 2014



3591 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

I didn't get much out of this album, loved Dark Adrenaline though. "Victims" is actually sick, but
yeah the faux-rap at the end is a "WTF-moment" haha I'll probably be the only one who likes it but the
instrumentation is brooding and dark and has a lot of "oomph" to it.

Closer is decent too.

Digging: Jolly - The Audio Guide to Happiness (Part 2)

Insurrection
Contributing Reviewer
April 5th 2014



20796 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

i have an unhealthy obsession with the closer, i think its fantastic. but yea victims is alright i guess besides that horrible part. die & rise is easily the worst imo.

ASnideReturns
April 6th 2014



3835 Comments


Cool review, great album.

Digging: There Will Be Fireworks - The Dark, Dark Bright

XfingTheSullen
April 6th 2014



2513 Comments


Heard nothing stands in our way, victims and die & rise. The first one is so-so, the two others are abysmal

Digging: Kalisia - Cybion

Insurrection
Contributing Reviewer
April 6th 2014



20796 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

well at least you got the worst songs out of the way

thanks snide

KjSwantko
April 6th 2014



9277 Comments


Won't waste my time with garbage sellout band.

KjSwantko
April 6th 2014



9277 Comments


And nice review, Insurrection.

Asdfp277
April 6th 2014



1064 Comments


i remember that horrible cover of 'enjoy the silence' lol, pass

Insurrection
Contributing Reviewer
April 6th 2014



20796 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

thanks kj, doubt youd like anything on here anyway

Tunaboy45
April 7th 2014



2056 Comments


Stale beyond recognition. Great review though!

Digging: Porcupine Tree - In Absentia

jkr5001
April 7th 2014



19 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Pretty accurate review, although I'd rate it somewhere between 3 - 3.5. The good moments are some of their best moments in quite some time, but the bad moments are yeah...not great. "Hostage to the Light", "Cybersleep", "Infection", and "One Cold Day" remind me why I became of fan of them in the first place. Cristina has always been an excellent singer, but she really steps up on some of these tracks.

Insurrection
Contributing Reviewer
April 7th 2014



20796 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

the four songs you mentioned are my top four as well. its weird how some of the tracks are so good and some are so awful

Froot
April 8th 2014



882 Comments


dat user ratings graph tho

Digging: Diablo Swing Orchestra - Pandora's Pinata

bogdanbele
April 9th 2014



2 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Great review. I too got the impression that this album's good moments are very good. But where it's bad, it's very bad...

XfingTheSullen
April 9th 2014



2513 Comments


Yeah, the user graph is insane



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