October 8, 2019 Lacuna Coil – Black Anima (Album Review)
Lacuna Coil was first introduced to the world when their album In Reverie was released in 1999 on Century Media. However, the Italian Gothic Metal band saw more significant success in the United States with the release of their third studio album, Comalies, in 2002 – an album that featured their hit song “Heaven’s A Lie” and “Swamped,” which were used in television shows, commercials, and video games. From there, the band would go on to release an additional five studio albums the last of which was Delirium in 2016. Delirium would go on to peak at No.1 on the US iTunes charts in the Metal category and ranking number 10 overall at that time.
Now, the band currently consisting of Cristina Scabbia (vocals), Andrea Ferro (male vocals), Marco Coti Zelati (bass, keyboards), Diego “Didi” Cavalotti (guitars), and Richard Meiz (drums) has crafted the follow-up to their 2016 success in the form of Black Anima, which will be released October 11th, 2019 through Century Media Records.
It is very telling that they should choose a word like “anima” which is taken directly from Latin as the word for “soul” and is defined in psychologist Carl Jung’s work as “the innermost part of oneself” or the “Feminine part of the psyche.” Given these definitions, it’s interesting that Lacuna Coil should choose to title their latest work “black (or dark) soul.” The journey the listener goes on during the course of this album pairs perfectly with that theme. Ferro’s screams and guttural intonations are dirty and borderline demonic in places especially when accompanying the uplifting and effervescent vocals of Scabbia. “Swords of Anger” is an excellent example of this dichotomous pairing with Ferro tapping into both his screams and lighter singing voice while Scabbia lilts right along. It’s an infectious tune that’s compelling and almost danceable while still bearing the heft of the rhythm section with all its crunch and bass.
At this point in their career, Lacuna Coil are masters of creating powerful anthems that entrance and astound the ear. With “Apocalypse,” the band does just this in one full and invigorating upsweep of ethereal lightness and intensity. This is followed with the much more forceful and hammering “Now or Never.” Scabbia’s softer vocals create a beautiful contrast and dichotomy on this track alongside the gritty screams of Ferro. Then, with unexpected barreling bass and drums comes the immensely dark beginning of “Under the Surface.” There is something otherworldly about the depths of Ferro’s growls on this track that sends a shiver down the back and alerts the senses. The underlying uptempo keeps the track just bouncy enough to keep it out of “Black Metal” territory, but yet it’s dark enough to keep a pit stirred.
“Veneficium,” which by definition means “the preparation of magic or witchcraft” but can also mean “an instance of poisoning,” does have something magical about it. The song features a surprisingly lifting soul with beautifully crafted string work and solo lovely enough to put you under its spell. For the more squeamish, the chanting in the song may be off-putting, but we think it adds to the ambiance of the track and gives it “The Omen” vibes. The Gothic Metal mastery and evolution of Lacuna Coil is evident in the way Black Anima winds and writhes like a coy and deceptive snake. Just when you think you have a beat on how this album will unfold, the next track changes your expectations time and time again. This is best demonstrated on “The End Is All I See,” which follows “Veneficium” and has a completely different and eclectic sound from its predecessors, which feels different and almost overwhelming in its delivery.
As the album comes to a close, the band creates more urgency with “Save Me.” The orchestration is complex and layered with a refreshing sense of need, redemption, and freedom all tied into one. There are moments in this song that will remind old-school Lacuna Coil fans of Comalies in the best way. The journey on this album is one of discovery, self-acceptance, and personal drive to overcome the darkness of one’s own mind. The eponymously titled final track is all about burning it all to the ground and starting over, and in a way, remaking yourself. The “Black Anima” is the darkness of our inner selves – the negative self speak, the past mistakes, the ugly truths about ourselves we refuse to confront.
With this album, Lacuna Coil has given that journey of self-discovery a voice and it’s a compelling one. For incredible orchestration, enthralling vocal dynamics, and a refreshing reintroduction, CrypticRock gives Lacuna Coil’s Black Anima 4 out of 5 stars.
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