Lacuna Coil: Broken Crown Halo

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Lacuna Coil: Broken Crown Halo
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Lacuna Coil: Broken Crown Halo
Alternative Rock, Gothic Metal, Gothic Rock
Nuclear Blast Records
April 1st, 2014
Release length: 47:41
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While Lacuna Coil had always been a strong contender in the Gothic Rock and Metal world since their 1999 debut album In a Reverie first dropped, it wasn’t until 2002’s Comalies that they become a pivotal player in the female fronted Metal wave that overtook much of the musical world. As time went on, the band took that pioneering success and slowly degraded into a full fledged mainstream Alternative Rock group to a larger audience, but greatly alienated their loyal fanbase. This led to the release of what many consider their worst effort, 2012’s Dark Adrenaline. Fast forward about two years, and the Alternative Rock radio ready behemoth returns with their seventh full-length album (and possibly their final as a six-piece) Broken Crown Halo. Is this one that may win back some of those yearning for the early days, or is this the final nail in the band’s coffin?

There’s no denying the group is still centred in the Alternative Rock and Metal worlds, but this time more in the latter. Much of Broken Crown Helo throws back to that darker Gothic Metal touch Lacuna Coil started out with, music that more often than not actually does sound heavy, and some bouts of aggressive male vocals. “Nothing Stands in Our Way” finds some darker keyboards at play with some basic breakdowns that have as decent an edge as the male growls are surprisingly beefy. The main verses are a little lighter until the chorus, but the thinner music carries a modern In Flames touch that is helps to make the overall performance pretty damn catchy.

There are a few songs that throw back to the Comalies-era flawlessly. “Cybersleep” carries that fluid bass-heavy groove the band carried in the past, and can actually be a little trance enducing in some parts. A good majority of the song does rely on melody at a slower pace that is a bit basic, but maintains a rich, relaxing environment. Then there’s “Hostage to the Light,” which is the perfect callback. Christina Scabbia’s vocals show a great amount of range and passion, pushing for heights that have rarely sounded so good or even existed on recent outings. The keyboard and synth effects paint a dismal atmosphere that works to make the simpler bone-rattling bass driven music feel naturally restrained everywhere but the more upbeat chorus that brings in a little positivity, as if shedding the weight of a burden if only for a brief time. Every bit of this song just works with each component from start to finish to create a truly moving experience that confirms Lacuna Coil didn’t forget how to make a solid song that isn’t just the band puking out one generic mainstream riff after another and hoping they stick like on their last album.

But, for everything positive about Broken Crown Halo, there are some faults to be found. “Die & Rise” isn’t too bad, but the main verses feel like a Saliva knock-off. There’s also the horrible drum transition around three minutes and six seconds in that comes off like a bad studio edit, as well as the harmonized rougher and shouting male vocals that simply sound out of place compared to the rest of the track, an issue that crops up from time to time on other songs like “Zombie” and “I Forgive (But I Won’t Forget You).” The latter of those two is a good mixture of Alternative Rock in the main verses with a familiar Ill Nino groove and attempt in the vocals that just sound weak. The chorus, however, finds a symphonic touch thanks to the keyboards to help save the overall performance. “Infection” finds this influence rearing up again, this time with a similar effect on the shouting vocals as what commonly appears on one of that group’s albums. This time around it works and makes for a catchy experience all around at least, though obviously not the most unique or memorable.

Broken Crown Halo isn’t exactly another crock pot of generic radio safe filler, but at the same time it shows a band that isn’t quite ready to return to their roots. There are plenty of sections and songs that will have fans of early Lacuna Coil happy to see them revisiting the sound that made them a household name in the first place, and some of the more groove heavy material is also a nice touch that works with the darker, sleeker performances and atmospheres. There’s a great deal of good ideas that seperate them from the many other musical acts that they had a hand in inspiring, but the copy and paste songs that sound more like a Saliva or Ill Nino knock-off still greatly hold the album back. That said, Broken Crown Halo is an album to get excited over. If this is a sign of the band’s future direction, then I think it’s safe to say that Lacuna Coil are back in full force. Then again, with the departure of drummer Christiano Mozzati and guitarist Cristiano Migliore earlier this year, who knows what the next recording will bring…

01. Nothing Stands in Our Way – 4:08
02. Zombie – 3:48
03. Hostage to the Light – 3:56
04. Victims – 4:32
05. Die & Rise – 3:45
06. I Forgive (But I Won’t Forget You) – 3:56
07. Cybersleep – 4:26
08. Infetion – 4:23
09. I Burn in You – 4:15
10. In the End I Feel Alive – 4:22
11. One Cold Day – 6:10
Initial Pressing Score: 7.5/10

Lacuna Coil
Lacuna Coil

Digital review copy of this release provided by Nuclear Blast Records.