Review Summary: Blending in elements from past releases with a few surprises, Broken Crown Halo is a solid release from a band in need of a fresh take on their formula.
Being on the forefront of gothic metal music, Lacuna Coil has had a flirtatious relationship with the idea of “going mainstream” for the last decade of their career while playing an underground genre of music. Their 2012 release, Dark Adrenaline, was their best album since fan favorite Comalies primarily because it made the final push away from the mainstream element that had been present in their past few releases, and why not" They had always been a band that relied on big choruses and Christina Scabbia and Andrea Ferro’s twin vocals. The music was never especially complex or technical in any way. But it never needed to be. Their first few releases are still respected today and considered their best work because they showed that Lacuna Coil did not need excellent musicianship to create a gothic atmosphere. Later albums sounded more commercial because they were either running out of ideas, or wanted more fame and money. This culminated with the black sheep of their discography, Shallow Life in 2009. Their following album, Dark Adrenaline in 2012, corrected this mistake and featured a more organic sound and overall better songs.
Broken Crown Halo is one of the group’s stronger releases, mainly focusing on consistency. After almost ten releases, this band has finally learned to trim the fat and only have eleven songs each around the four-minute mark. This simple change is a huge improvement, as the group’s one consistent problem has been albums that ran just a little too long, especially since almost all the songs rely on epic sounding choruses and not much else. The song structure on Broken Crown Halo is more mainstream, but the music is actually heavier than before, creating a unique and highly satisfying sound overall.
Despite sounding fresh and new, this is still a Lacuna Coil album. The big choruses are there, and the dual male-female vocals of Scabbia and Ferro still the focus. Christina sounds louder and more passionate than she has in years. For the first time, Ferro lets loose some death growls in a few of the early tracks, albeit hesitantly, as they never show up again for the rest of the record. If this band wanted to make a statement to their hardcore fans that they were done catering to the mainstream, they are certainly going to convince most. They also move away from the doomy sound they had been flirting with in their very early releases, keeping the fast tempos of their later work while upping the heavier gothic sound they have always been known for.
The only drawback to Broken Crown Halo is the lack of any real standout tracks. Aside from lead single and album opener “Nothing Will Stand In Our Way” and compelling album closer "One Cold Day," none of the songs make much effort to distinguish themselves in any noticeable way. Lacuna Coil was never too varied musically, but at least the band included a power ballad in Dark Adrenaline to make things a little more unpredictable. That one small change in their sound ended up being the best song on the album, and even drew more attention to the band. Whether it’s writing different kinds of songs or changing up vocal styles, Lacuna Coil always end up succeeding whenever they try to experiment and evolve their sound. Hopefully in the future they will continue changing, since at this point they have exhausted their current sound. In any case, if there was one word to describe Broken Crown Halo, it would be satisfying.