Lacuna Coil - Black Anima

Lacuna Coil Black Anima cover
Lacuna Coil
Black Anima
Century Media Records
My relationship with Lacuna Coil’s material is pretty much a love and hate one. At first (EP era) I thought nothing of them. I loved their debut “In a Reverie” and as soon as they became poppier and more modern to appeal to an American audience, I sort of went into a love-hate relationship, mostly enjoying the singles and not necessarily much else; the last decade I was even drawn furthest away from the band, mostly enjoying the occasional single and Crisitna Scabbia’s smooth vocals… that being said, I did enjoy 2016’s “Delirium” quite a bit more than I expected, so I approached “Black Anima” with cautious optimism, which was quickly squandered…
Firstly half of the band would like to be some sort of Slipknot. Andrea Ferro, in particular, does all these manic, sort of extreme vocals that he always did, but on this particular album – almost everything he does falls flat in my ears. It might have something to do with the songs too. It’s more of the same fare the band has been releasing for a decade and obviously feels more like a bunch of ideas that are just gathered together and sort of work, but don’t shine.
“Anima Nera” is a manic intro with a high pitched Scabbia, sounding like a comic character… it’s quite unsettling actually.
“Sword of Anger” sounds like Slipknot until keys and female vocals kick in, at which point it becomes “reckognizable” as Lacuna Coil. Other than its chorus, however, not much else about it is great.
“Reckless” is an electro pop ditto, which might have worked better with smooth male vocals. Still it’s a rather impressive piece.
“Layers of Time” has the pseudo aggression of modern day Soilwork – past their Slip-tour, and it only feels interesting when Scabbia assumes vocals affecting the drama.
“Apocalypse” gets the correct balance of Ferro, like in the 00’s, but while it’s enjoyable and has a nice guitar solo, it lacks a little in the chorus department. Also it seems to take a couple of cues from modern day Within Temptation, which I dunno if it’s a good or a bad thing, in this particular case.
“Now or Never” is a clear case of dichotomy; feeling like an extreme and a gothic song playing over the other and somehow sounding mashable… but it’s mushy. Not greater than the sum of the parts.
“Under the Surface” gets the modern extreme/melodic style, a little better than say… “Layers” but that’s probably due to its decent chorus, rather than anything else.
“Veneficium” tries to be an exercise in gothic Latin melodrama. It sounds as if someone threw in Death SS, Lacuna Coil, Therion and Moonspell in a marmite and just forgot about it. Interesting, but not sure if I like this weird bouillabaisse.
The electro gothic of “The End is All I Can See” again harkens to past times and while it’s right down my alley, it’s not a prime example of what the Italians are capable of.
“Save Me” is the sort of goth pop fare that won the band wider acclaim in the first place, but feels rather vanilla and not particularly impressive; a by the numbers exercise… the whole spoken part where Scabbia says I can’t give up, is weirdly ironic…
When the title track, “Black Anima”, finally arrives, with some interesting ideas, it’s ruined by Ferro’s overdominant vocals, but at least it offers some last moment experimentation. The boomy not crystal mix doesn’t really help either throughout the album.
Basically, “Black Anima” is the sound of a band going through the motions, with enough mastery and experience to pull it off, but at the same time hopelessly stuck in the limbo between their former glories and infamy… not a good place to be…