Review Summary: Lacuna Coil go back to metal.
It's been a long time since people really paid attention to Lacuna Coil. I wonder if anyone still remembers the days when "Our Truth" was a hit on the radio, which must have been ten years ago. At that time they had just changed from their original gothic/doom metal incarnation to something closer to a more mainstream metal sound, although they have always sounded different from their colleagues in the genre (the other bands tended to focus on orchestras more, but Lacuna Coil has always been more interested in electronic, doom and eighties elements). The truth is, somewhere along the road they got lost in the mire between all the other nu-metal bands fading, as that sound has become less popular and given way to other forms of metal on the rise. Lacuna Coil were still pumping out material - two songs an album that you could like, the rest you would discard like old Pokemon cards in a box.
And somehow, you could still be distracted by these little earworms such as "Spellbound" and "Kill the Light". Most metalheads would think of it as their guilty pleasure, most pop-lovers are still too abashed by the fact Lacuna Coil likes to distort their guitars, and everyone else was turned off by Andrea Ferro singing. On this release, Lacuna Coil have basically fixed all of those problems by doing a couple of things: 1) they added fresh and new musical influences to their mix, notably the angular djent-type riffs favoured by Meshuggah, giving the album a more metal feel, as well as more guitar solos 2) Andrea has stopped trying to sing for the most part and has gone back to growling, which does Lacuna Coil's music a world of good (the man just can't really sing) and 3) they've also incorporated more sounds akin to those of the first two albums. They've basically gotten rid of most of the nu-metal elements (which only worked for a few songs per album) and given us a mix of elements we can all get behind.
This leads to a much better result for the band overall. The songwriting is still monotonous in places, as the band doesn't play with dynamics much throughout the album, but the actual melodies written and the much heavier atmosphere draw you in. There's a sense of purpose here and cuts such as "The House of Shame" and "Ghost in the Mist" stand at the top of the Lacuna Coil catalogue. It's their best material in years and years, after plodding along. This mixture seems to suit them a lot better. Perhaps it's the fact that some band members have left, perhaps they just needed a good prodding - they seem to have found the spark here.
There are still a few flaws with Lacuna Coil's material - the lyrics are still nonsense, and Andrea singing still is something that should simply not be present (it does crop up here and there). However, I don't think the lyrics will ever be Lacuna Coil's selling point, what matters is the vocal delivery - and in Scabbia they have a frontwoman who is more than capable of delivering. She seems to go a lot more into her high range as well, diversifying her vocal approach - another welcome bonus. The addition of guest musicians to cover for Marco Coti Zelati's inability (or unwillingness) to do guitar solos also works a treat, because it provides another alley that you can go into here that Lacuna Coil don't normally explore.
The bottom line is that Lacuna Coil seem to finally be inspired to produce more than one or two acceptable songs per album and try a new approach which has paid dividends for them. The newer, more energetic material should go over well live (heavier songs tend to work better in a live context when it comes to Lacuna Coil). Finally we have a reason to regard Lacuna Coil as a really relevant band again - something anyone would hardly have said six years ago, but here it is.
Choice Cut: "The House of Shame"