When first I heard that Lacuna Coil were gearing towards a new album, it struck me that out of all the upcoming Female Fronted Metal outputs ((Epica – The Quantum Enigma; Xandria – Sacrificium; Delain – The Human Contradiction; Diabulus In Musica – Argia; Stream Of Passion – A War Of Our Own; etc. )) of 2014, Broken Crown Halo was probably the most re-assuring one to be heard. After all, it’s the seventh release from what used to be known as “that Gothic Metal band from Italy“, and by now Lacuna Coil know exactly how their music should sound like.
Indeed, as soon as the opening track starts, it feels as a direct continuation to 2012’s Dark Adrenaline. All the familiar trademarks are here: strong intro, catchy melodies / hooks / sampling, and a memorable chorus, backed by the “dynamic duo” of Cristina Scabbia and Andrea Ferro and their Yin/Yang type of singing.
Both vocalists try to spice things up in Broken Crown Halo, though not always as successfully. Andrea is making an impact by adding grunts (“Nothing Stands In Our Way”) to his usual whispering/screaming repertoire, as well as going all Paradise Lost on some parts (“I Burn In You”); Cristina, on the other hand, not only suffers from some overly-produced vocals, but also manages to sound like a dying moose when trying to “rap” (?!) on “Victims”.
Alas, I expected to hear a lot more of Cristina‘s pure singing abilities, especially after listening to Ayreon‘s The Theory Of Everything, where she does an amazing guest work. It’s not that her Rock vocals are bad, it’s just that songs like “Hostage To The Light” or “Cybersleep” (despite the stupid robotic-voice intro) show how beautiful she can really sing without the use of overdubbing or any other effects.
Ever since Lacuna Coil re-established themselves as a Melodic Modern Metal band, there are fewer new elements in their music. In fact, this album contains a lot of references to the band’s previous releases. “Zombies”, for example, is filled with vibes from 2009’s Shallow Life, while “Die And Rise” sounds as if it was a leftover from the 2006’s Karmacode recording sessions. While acknowledging past albums isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially when it comes to the dark atmosphere we all love (“One Cold Day“) the problem is that, along with all the good stuff, the band dragged back some less-than-welcomed influences. These pop-in as generic songs, like “Infection”, or as dumb lyrical choices such as “Burn, Baby” (really?!) in the song “In The End I Feel Alive”.
Despite those rare ugly moments, Lacuna Coil rip their heart out on Broken Crown Halo and there’s no better song than “I Forgive (But I Won’t Forget Your Name)” to prove how energetic-yet-touching this band can get. I know, this might not be enough, not to mention being a tad predictable for both lovers and mild-haters, but for once I feel quite alright with a band that plays it safe rather than special.