Saturday, April 19, 2014

Broken Crown Halo | Lacuna Coil

Lacuna Coil has made a lot of amazing music throughout its career. I've always respected this band even though they've also made some music that's left me indifferent. Their latest release, Broken Crown Halo, came out within the past month. The album title may be a bit of a clustersnub, but the music is even more solid than I expected. It stays true to what they've been doing for the past few albums, but it also throws back to some of their older work.

"Nothing Stands in Our Way" is the first track, displaying a heavier approach than what's been Lacuna Coil's usual. Cristina Scabbia's vocal line in the verses is both flowy and fierce while Andrea Ferro joins her for the chorus. After the middle eight, the chorus breaks down to an intense, pulsating staccato (one of the song's best aspects) that never fails to leave me swaying in my seat. Ferro and Scabbia take turn vocalizing at the end, finally leaving us with Scabbia's very powerful, vocally-strong last line, "That's our way." "Nothing Stands in Our Way" is addictive and impressive and stands as one of the album's best songs.

Other strong highlights from Broken Crown Halo include “I Forgive (But I Won’t Forget Your Name),” “Cybersleep,” and “I Burn in You.” All three songs lack the speedy ferocity of "Nothing Stands in Our Way," for they all have a certain mellow quality despite the ever-present electric instruments. But, that certainly doesn't mean that any of these songs are passive; Scabbia's voice embodies plenty of emotion in all three - in fact, the single "I Forgive (But I Won't Forget Your Name)" probably wouldn't stand out as much without Scabbia's powerful chorus. 

Cybersleep," on the other hand, has a prominent string line that complements the guitars and Scabbia's vocals quite well. The song as a whole reminds me a bit of Lacuna Coil's older material; it almost feels like a less-heavy version of "Swamped." "I Burn in You" is a song that really flows; I love the opening riffs. Andrea's vocals in the first verse are so eerie, but Scabbia really owns the amazing chorus. It’s an all-around standout track for me.

Aside from my four personal favorites, there are some other songs that were able to please me. “Hostage to the Light” seemed mediocre to me at first, but the catchy last minute really won me over as Scabbia repeats "A world of false illusions in my head/ Deep inside my head/ Deep inside my head." But the single "Die and Rise" is perhaps more interesting still. It has a generally dark sound with its pounding guitars and cool synths; I always picture the 2003 film Underworld when I hear it due to the synths mixed in with the guitars. Cristina Scabbia sings in Italian during the middle eight, her voice layering to create eerie and urgent harmonies - what's not to like?

As far as the rest of the tracks from Broken Crown Halo: Even though these few I haven't mentioned are still solid songs, I just couldn't get into them quite as much as the others I mentioned. Somehad potential thought "In the End I Feel Alive" is especially strong with its chorus and the choppy guitar part in the verses, but the bridge is awkward with Andrea repeating "burn, baby." I may have enjoyed it more if that part wasn't included. But, "Infection" and "One Cold Day" were the only ones I couldn't get into at all.

So overall, Broken Crown Halo is a very enjoyable album; I definitely see it as an improvement from Lacuna Coil's last few albums. There are heavy moments, there are relaxing moments - any rock fan would find something they like about this album. I'm quite happy with it.

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