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Lacuna Coil - Broken Crown Halo
Written by Max Levites   
Tuesday, 01 April 2014

Lacuna Coil - CD Review
Broken Crown Halo

Lacuna Coil - Broken Crown Halo


 

 

CD Info
Century Media Records
11 tracks English & Italian lyrics
2014 Release
9.5/10

 

The release of a new Lacuna Coil album is always an interesting thing to experience, and fans’ reactions to the inevitable evolution in the band’s sound range from amusing to encouraging to completely disheartening. Lacuna Coil’s past few releases has divided their fans while gaining plenty of new ones. Hell, I’ve even heard people say that the band sold out with Comalies, arguably the most iconic album in the band’s career and one of my personal top 5 albums of all time. But say what you want about Lacuna Coil’s past, present, and future;  the one thing that no one can deny is that their sound, no matter what changes it goes through, remains completely original. They sound like no one else, and as far as I can tell, no one’s successfully been able to sound like them. This remains true on the band’s 7th full-length album, Broken Crown Halo, which shows the band continue to evolve their sound and explore new territory while still managing to sound distinctly Lacuna Coil. The good news is that after the creative slump that was Shallow Life and the road to recovery that was Dark Adrenaline, Lacuna Coil have found their feet again with this release, easily their best in many years.
 
    “Heavier and darker” is something every metal band seems to say when describing a new release, but it’s a label that aptly describes what we hear on Broken Crown Halo. The riffs are harder and crunchier and we hear Andy at his most aggressive yet. In fact, the first vocals we hear on the opening anthem “Nothing Stands in Our Way” is Andy’s deep roar, something we haven’t heard since Comalies. The songs themselves also have a darker atmosphere than on previous records, with keyboards and industrial touches, as well as the added heaviness, really giving the songs that deep gothic vibe. Take one listen to “Die and Rise,” probably the most accessible track on the album albeit one of the heaviest in the band’s repertoire, and you’ll know what I mean.

    Of course, darker and heavier are not the only new elements Lacuna Coil brings to the table on their new longplayer. There really are surprises around every corner on this release, from clever instrumental passages and guitar solos to heart-wrenching vocal performances. The band manages to incorporate some older elements, such as the layered production of earlier releases and the ethereal mystery that made those releases so alluring, while still sounding completely fresh. Though I’ve already mentioned past albums in this review already, it’s actually very hard to compare the new songs with the old ones. The band might be going back to old techniques but the sound is still new and original. This is especially evident on songs like “Hostage to the Light,” “Victims,” “Cybersleep,” and “I Burn in You,” and while you have a few songs that wouldn’t feel too out of place on Dark Adrenaline, even they bring in some of the new elements that show a real maturity in the songwriting and a move away from the simplicity of the last two records.

    Though the band keeps their signature male-female duality, the real star of Broken Crown Halo is Cristina. Her voice has always been a highlight of Lacuna Coil’s music, but here she sounds better than ever, unrestrained and almost soulful. She plays with new techniques that she’s never used on record before, only in a live setting. On “Victims,” she uses both a deeper register and even shouts at times, while “Cybersleep” is probably her best vocal performance to date. I’ll even admit that “Hostage to the Light” might actually be one of the best Lacuna Coil songs yet. She sings with such passion and emotion on this album that you almost wonder where she’s been hiding it all these years.
 
    Overall, Broken Crown Halo is easily the best album Lacuna Coil have put out in years, I’d say since Karmacode, as that’s my personal favorite, but since each fan has their own preference I’ll leave it to you, dear readers, to judge. What I can say with certainty is that the band has recaptured the magic of earlier releases that was so absent on the previous two albums and have really crafted an excellent record containing some of the Italian 5-some’s best work to date. Whether Broken Crown Halo will stand the test of time remains to be seen, but right now it’s on nearly constant rotation, and probably will be for at least the next few weeks, maybe even months.


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