Brutal, yet vulnerable. Melancholic and euphoric. A dark romance, reanimating gothic metal 9/10
It has been two decades since the Milanese gothic metal Lacuna Coil released their debut album, In A Reverie and an Italian friend pointed me in their direction. While their third album Comalies (2002) gained them global appeal with its nu-metal tinge, with which they continued in this direction for 2006’s Karamacode and I began to lose interest. While the vocals and guitar work continued to amaze, there was something about the production that disagreed with me, but not their growing legion of fans.
Black Anima has been my first serious listening to Lacuna Coil for a very, very long time and it has left me incredibly, very pleasantly surprised.
The intrinsic core of Cristina Scabbia (vocals), Andrea Ferro (male vocalist) and Marco Coti Zelati (songwriter/ keyboards/ bass) remain. Truly, they have forged their own path and a sound that is instantly recognizable, regardless of how you feel about the band.
Black Anima (where anima is Italian for soul) is heavier and far darker than I had anticipated. It also seems that Ferro has a new found confidence in his vocals, which now perfectly complement the ethereal coldness of Scabbia. There are still the hauntingly beautiful gothic aspects, there are hints towards nu-metal but there is an intensity that pervades these shadows.
The night is not just the absence of the sun, it has its own energy, the darkness moves in…
There’s a timeless reality, a never ending universe where memories of the past live infinitely.
Here resides what some people might call Holy angel, fallen spirit, divine messenger or invisible force…
We call it: Black Anima.
With lyrics based upon feelings and reflections, loss and the passage of life with a musical base that draws upon the bands past. Combining the honesty and integrity of what has come before, while evolving and basing the album on what the artists most enjoy playing live- which are the heavier aspects. Black Anima embraces the darkness and it is sublime.
Anima Nera introduces the album with a droning subtlety, rolling over repetitive keyboards and the heartfelt, intimate message in the vocals of Scabbia. Sword Of Anger switches things up, with raging, guttural vocals and a gothic doomy riff. Death metal growls contrast with cleans and searing, otherworldly articulations. Emotive and melodic, the defining dual vocal assault, sublimely compliments the intensity of the music.
With a dangerous groove, Reckless embraces all that represents Lacuna Coil, with a sleazier, twilit twist for an euphoric stomper of a track. The lyrics are dark, the video darker- warning: contains scenes of nudity and self-mutilation. But more to the point, there is a guitar solo?!
The pace increases, as does the ferocity for the bass driven Layers Of Time Andrea’s vocals are on fire, the guttural contrasting sublimely with the ethereal clean of Cristina. Apocalypse returns us to the classically epic Lacuna Coil style but with boosters applied. Now Or Never errs towards the symphonic death bombast with a lean towards ‘prog’ metal with it’s crushing intensity. The nu-metal influence is still present, but even the rap-like element and screamy Scabbia vocals does not deter me! Extra guitar is always welcome!
The pace quickens, the light begins to show once more for Under The Surface while Veneficium in its six minute duration incorporates almost a check list of gothic nuances, from Latin chants, operatic stylings, themes of a mortally wounded heart and soul forming an enchanting ballad.
The End Is All I Can See opens with a distorted electro-fuzz which builds monumentally, with the almost Eastern influenced melody and vocal line. Beyond the melodrama of Save Me, there is a vulnerability that haunts.
Black Anima closes the opus with a somewhat ominous style, there is no happy ever after as we all hurtle towards the great unknown. Is there salvation in the final words? Break, smash, disarray, chaos, rise. I would like to think so…
This album is for me the most complete album produced by Lacuna Coil. There is a greater maturity in the anguish and power of the work. More importantly, it retains integrity and grace. 9/10
Black Anima is available now and can be purchased here.
Lacuna Coil – “Black Anima”
- Anima Nera
- Sword Of Anger
- Layers Of Time
- Now Or Never
- Under The Surface
- The End Is All I Can See
- Save Me
- Black Anima
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