Italian gothic metal giants Lacuna Coil bring us their latest offering, Black Anima, 3 years after their last album Delirium.
The opening track teases a notably different style, with vocalist Christina Scabbia taking on a higher lighter voice than usual, then there’s a breathy rhythmic vocal section similar to something Eivør might do. This hints at a darker and more experimental style to follow for the rest of the album.
Despite the uncharacteristic intro track, the vocal melodies for a large portion of this album are just as radio friendly as on some of the softer, more alt rock releases from their mid-career. This can be seen on 'Apocalypse' for example, with the millennial "woah oh" being used towards the end.
A notable feature of this album is an increase in the prominence of Andrea Ferro’s harsh vocals and reduction in the amount of cleans. There is still plenty of Christina’s vocals, as she soars over some of the harsh vocal passages on tracks such as 'Sword of Anger' in a style consistent with the piercing high vocals of 'Delirium' and 'House of Shame' on their eponymous previous release.
'Layers of Time' is an easy highlight of this album, opening with heavy riffing and Ferro’s harsh vocals soloing on the verses. This gives way to a melodic chorus led by Christina, albeit with a somewhat anticlimactic melody. Nonetheless this track is a welcome return to their heavier side. 'Now or Never' is another song in this vein opening with dramatic gothic strings and Ferro’s harsh vocals. It also features synths and piano, again adding to the gothic flavour accompanying the fast heavy guitars and rhythm section. Interestingly there are also shouted vocals by Christina on this.
Other highlights include the ominous harmonised Latin chanting on 'Veneficium', which brings a sense of cinematic drama and a symphonic edge. 'The End Is All I Can See' is possibly the most melodically interesting and complex song on the album, features lovely layered harmonised vocals on the hook "clean away my sins…".
Industrial/electronic elements feature on 'Under the Surface', 'The End Is All I Can See', 'Anima Nera' and 'Black Anima'. The former also bears some resemblance to 'Hangar 18' by Megadeth in the verse chord progression.
This album comes across as striking a balance between clinging to the band’s radio friendly past and exploring their heavier side. Five tracks: 'Anima Nera', 'Black Anima', 'Now or Never', 'The End Is All I Can See' and 'Layers of Time' stand out as being either heavier or more experimental than the rest. However, even on the more commercial sounding songs there are little elements such as the Latin chanting, electronic/industrial sounds and use of Ferro’s harsh vocals which help to tie it all together.
Would recommend for fans of: Within Temptation, Evanescence, Delain, Forever Still, UnSun