Monday 21 October 2019

Lacuna Coil - Black Anima (2019)

Country: Italy
Style: Alternative
Rating: 6/10
Release Date: 11 Oct 2019
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My son kindly took me to a Lacuna Coil gig here a few years ago and, while I enjoyed myself, it was telling that the band didn't play either of the songs I was really hoping to hear, My Wings and To Myself I Turned, both from the band's 1999 debut, In a Reverie. It would seem that songs like these simply didn't have any place in the setlist of a band that had moved far from their gothic metal roots.

This album emphasises that change, though I think it's heavier than the last couple of albums. I remember when Evanescence made it huge with Bring Me to Life but those in the know pointed out that they were just a trendy Lacuna Coil. Nowadays, it feels like Lacuna Coil are taking their influences from the bands that they had previously influenced, and that's a strange scenario to find myself in as an old fan of the band.

Sometimes it works really well. Layers of Time is almost extreme, certainly as heavy as this album gets, with intriguing melodies laid over a prominent bass and unusual drum rhythms. The contrast between the heavier general tone and some delicate vocals from Cristina Scabbia is very tasty indeed.

However, much of the rest sounds carefully produced to be just as extreme as the current state of music will allow without losing a mainstream audience. Tracks like Apocalypse, Under the Surface and The End is All I Can See are crafted cleverly but far too much, so that they hint sneakily at industrial influences while really being loud pop songs, perhaps the best definition of nu metal, which this is far too often. The latter could easily be a Depeche Mode song if it just quietened down a bit.

Unfortunately, I spent much of the album alternating between being impressed and being disappointed. Now or Never begins with a delightfully quirky intro but then it veers away into utterly routine nu metal, a slow melody playing over the top doing little to bring us back. It does get interesting again at the midpoint with Scabbia getting all shouty but in a punk way rather than a hardcore way, but it's too little too late. I was into it, but then I wasn't and then I was but then I wasn't.

The closest we get to old school Lacuna Coil is Veneficium, which kicks off with a choral chant and continues with cleaner male vocals. Black Anima, the title track that closes out the album, has its moments too, another of those slow melodies tinkling over the raucous backdrop. However, I wouldn't really call these highlight tracks, just more enjoyable ones for an old school fan.

And, really, that's the biggest factor in play here for me. Over a couple of decades, Lacuna Coil have moved from being slap bang in the middle of what I liked most all the way to where they're hovering outside what I like at all. They're a talented bunch of musicians and I'm happy that they're doing what they love, but it just isn't for me any more. This is far from gothic metal, being more like a third alternative and two thirds nu metal perhaps.

I wish them well but I suddenly feel old. Get off my lawn, you kids!

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