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Album Review: Lacuna Coil – Broken Crown Halo

Photo: Steve Prue

The tour-de-force that is Lacuna Coil have spent the best part of a decade sitting pretty as one of the most notable female fronted metal bands and, with their American nu-metal tinge, have definitely carved their own niche. ‘Broken Crown Halo’ is probably their best album since the acclaimed ‘Comalies’ in that it encompasses the full-bodied production and intermittent electronics of their recent releases, but reunites it with a little more mystery – the lack of which isolated some fans with the American breakthrough release ‘Karmacode’.

As a band that have found their sound and stuck within it for almost a decade, it’s nice to hear a few surprises grabbing the centre of attention. ‘Hostage to the Light’ gives prominence to Cristina’s soaring chorus and she also commands the middle eight of ‘Victims’, sounding intense and seething as she almost raps the defiant lyric ‘people told me I was weak, I told them I’ll never quit’. Good job really, Scabbia, because you’re doing quite well for yourself now. The buzzing electronics of the introduction to singles ‘Die & Rise’ and ‘Nothing Stands In Out Way’ build the uneasy atmospheres inspired by the horror films the band looked towards for inspiration and despite the two being classic Lacuna Coil with their gothic-nu-metal hearts, it’s these little touches that stop the material from edging towards the predictable and boring.

The doom influences of the band’s debut reoccur on the mournful ode to the late Lacuna Coil founder Claudio Leo – it’s a difficult one to tap into, but a few plays opens up it’s nostalgic ‘In A Reverie’ vibes as they flicker back to the Lacuna of old. Elsewhere, though, ‘Broken Crown Halo’ continues where ‘Dark Adrenaline’ left off – slightly darker ambiance beneath chugging metal riffs. The quality on the record tops it’s comparatively underwhelming predecessor and successfully takes the infectious and accessible song structures of ‘Karmacode’ and ‘Shallow Life’  into the gothic world that birthed the band.

There is nothing wrong with sticking to a sound, despite what the omni-altering music scene might tell you. Nobody waits with bated breath for a rap record from Enya, nor do we expect a classical venture from Eminem – sometimes it’s just nice to know what you’re getting. Lacuna Coil give what you expect from them – after spending so long in the game, the sixpiece have earned their right to stamp their name on a specific style and own it. They have nothing left to prove and a whole lot of fans to please, so ‘Broken Crown Halo’ is no longer paving a blistering path forward, but contently letting everybody know just why Lacuna Coil have attained the acclaim and level of success that they have.

Photo: Steve Prue
Words: Simon McMurdo

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