Italian gothic metal stalwarts Lacuna Coil are still going strong, managing to command a healthy fanbase twenty-five years deep into their career.
At this point, it’s safe to say you know exactly what you’re going to get at this point; like Evanescence and Within Temptation, they’ve always been dark enough to be a staple in the metal community, yet radio-friendly enough to garner mainstream attention, and this continues on the band’s ninth album, ‘Black Anima’.
The piano and synth-led interlude of ‘Anima Nera’ helps to ease us in, and Cristina Scabbia is on hand to bring her recognisable vocal delivery; a whispered chant helps to bring the tension and eventually lead us into ‘Sword Of Anger’. Andrea Ferro provides the screamed counterpart to Scabbia‘s cleaner vocal work as ever, and, equipped with a solid and memorable chorus, there are dark themes on display, as always.
‘Reckless’ is another mid-tempo number that’s strong in the hooks game, and this chorus will definitely stick in your head, with Scabbia‘s range being particularly impressive here. ‘Layers Of Time’ is also more fast-paced to start off with, assisted by some off-kilter sounds in the introduction, and Scabbia again brings a very strong hook near the end of the song. With the first three songs proper, we’re off to a strong start.
While ‘Apocalpyse’ shows us that Scabbia can be strong vocally with a relatively restrained performance in the verses, though the song on the whole unfortunately derails things slightly and lacks the momentum of the previous tracks. Lacuna Coil certainly know their formula, but they could sometimes do with deviating from it a bit more often.
Thankfully, ‘Now Or Never’ is one of the better cuts, with another captivating string-led intro and further interesting soundscapes appearing here and there. For the second half of the song, the band do offer more intensity in the almost-metalcore middle 8, which helps to elevate things.
But, sometimes, especially in ‘Under The Surface’, you feel like Ferro blends in with a lot of other harsh vocalists, rather than offering a distinctive counterpart to Scabbia. At least with ‘Venificium’, there are some more interesting musical ideas is there, with the operatic vocals peaking some interest in the beginning. And, when Ferro does sing, it offers a little more depth, and perhaps he could lend more clean vocals across the album. ‘The End Is All I Can See’ is also further proof of his prowess, in the chorus specifically, and, with the title-track and closer, you can certainly tell they’re going for it a bit more at the end.
While this largely feels like a band sticking to their tried and tested formula, there’s still plenty of enjoyable songs on here, and long-time fans should be more than pleased with ‘Black Anima’.