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In A Reverie will always be the personal favorite of mine concerning Lacuna Coil's discography for reasons musical and otherwise, but if I were to judge based solely on musical merit, I would most likely veer towards this EP released shortly afterwards as the band's pinnacle. Five tracks, with one of them being a lengthy intro, and all of them pretty damn good to varying degrees. This is what I always expected a gothic metal band to sound like when I first heard the term, mainly because the songwriting and production values create an atmosphere that successfully invokes that gloomy spirit of some of the better gothic rock bands while jacking up the amplification. They wouldn't approach this style of sound in the future, or at least quite as successfully.
This puppy bounces between metal centric and goth based tracks all under a misty cavernous production. On other albums, chanteuse Cristina occasionally sings as if her inner self yearns to drop the whole goth metal scene, whip out an acoustic guitar and start wailing about how she's ready to leave some dickhead for good. Not here. Her echo-drenched voice is as ethereal as she's ever been, eschewing any tic resembling a folksy pop inflection. Her delivery during the opening track in particular is striking with Eastern embellishments and some trippy harmonies. Although she may not be quite as technically proficient as some of her peers, her dreamy tone combined with enough gravity to avoid resembling some fragile pixie provides her with a distinct and appealing flair. Another general highpoint of this effort is the drums, which do their best to stay busy during slower sections while not going overboard. Recorded with a fair amount of reverb as well, this adds a chilly yet heavy vibe to the overall aesthetics. Pretty much what one would want out of goth metal, I'd say.
As mentioned before there's the heavy cuts and the lighter cuts, with nothing even remotely giving the impression as some leftover not fit for a full length effort. Even "Trance Awake", an instrumental that smoothly transitions to "Senzafine", is essential with its aura similar to the celebrated 4AD project This Mortal Coil. "Senzafine" itself is one of the band's most blatantly gothic sounding numbers, with Italian lyrics adding character and allowing me to concentrate on the enchanting vocal melodies since my grasp of Italian doesn't transgress much further than a few quotes from The Godfather films, capiche?. They could be singing about "the healing power of masterbation" or a recipe for a fine linguini dish and it wouldn't disrupt my enjoyment of the tune's ambience. The other track that emphasizes their diversity from typical metal trappings would be their cover of Dubstar's "Stars", which plays like a homage to the dream-pop genre while adding some 'oomph' to the proceedings. A pleasant final cut that doesn't feel tacked-on to justify and EP status.
"Hyperfast" has become one of my favorites by the band, and no it doesn't contain blast beats. What it does possess is a progressive nature, seamlessly flowing from 4/4 to 6/8 tempos and juxtaposing heavier and quieter atmospheric sections without jarring the listener. In terms of skill, these guys have come a long way from their prior EP, in which Cristina was the only performer of any noteworthiness. We're not talking about blistering guitar heroics and jaw dropping drum fills, just a more unconventional and more complex approach to song-craft. There's also some well placed male growling provided by Andrea to add some more of a metal flavor to this piece, as well as on the title track.
The flaws on Halflife as few, but noticeable. The songs "Halflife" and "Hyperfast", though excellent, could have been trimmed a bit at their ends, and Andrea overdoes the swagger routine somewhat in "Senzafine", but these minor discrepancies hardly detract from the overall experience. Lacuna Coil's choice of songs to the raw, cold yet utterly appropriate production make this the go-to album of choice for anyone looking for recommendations in my opinion. Afterwards, I'd say In A Reverie is worth a shot if Halflife entices the listener. Following that, they're on their own.
The Half-Life EP by Lacuna Coil, released in 2000, is probably one of the more solid releases by the band that can be most commonly found as extra tracks on the 2001 release Unleashed Memories. Half-Life was released back in the good days when Lacuna Coil used little to no electronics and had a more solid and unique sound. The over all flow of the CD is similar to that of Unleashed Memories, but some of the songs, specifically Hyperfast, are a lot less tame. Also, the lyrics to the EP are a lot better then the 2003 release, Comalies.
Christina Scabbia, the female vocalist, has a very beautiful voice and unique. Although her voice has been compared to that of Amy Lee's, she is by far the better of the two vocalist, with a sharper and more violent voice the Amy Lee's (not a whiny voice like Amy Lee's). Her true talent as a vocalist can be found on the track Hyperfast. Andrea Ferro, the male vocalist, also has his own unique style, and for those who've only hear Lacuna Coil's Comalies, Andrea also uses his growling vocals in the songs Half-Life and Hyperfast (I honestly mistook him for Angela Gossow of Arch Enemy when I first head his growl). Although Andrea is not the best vocalist, especially when he duets with Christina Scabbia, he has exceptional growls that that make me sad because he doesn't use them nearly as much as he should.
The two guitarists, Cristiano Migliore and Marco Biazzi, are for the most part mediocre guitarist, but manage to mix their guitar tunes together to make a unique and mystical atmosphere in the band's music. Marco Coti Zelati, the bassist, is also only mediocre, but overall helps the band create the unique style of Gothic Metal that is Lacuna Coil. Cristiano Mozzati, the drummer and percussionist for the band, has probably the most instrumental talent in the band. His drum work is very smooth and holds the songs on the EP together. His percussions are not as constant and used as they were in Comalies, but work with great effects in the two tracks Trance Awake and Senzafine. Overall, Lacuna Coil's music proves to have been better in the earlier years before Comalies when they went almost electronic.
The tracks themselves manage to hold this EP together very well, making it one of Lacuna Coil's best releases (although that fact gets ignored when people listen to this EP as bonus tracks on Unleashed Memories. The EP titled song, Half-Life, starts off rather slowly but picks up into an aura of riffs and drum lines. This song out of the five tracks probably is the best definition of Lacuna Coil's sound. Christina Scabbia and Andrea Ferro work well together on this track. Trance Awake for the most part is just a two minute intro for the next track, Senzafine. Trance Awake does, however, has a unique Industrial sound that makes itself it's own stand out track, although there are no vocals on the track. Senzafine breaks off Trance Awake in an aura of light percussions and drum beats. The song is very fast, and the lyrics are all in Italian, making it the most unique track on this CD.
Hyperfast is by far the best track on the album. Starting of slowly, then picking up as Christina Scabbia comes in with one of the best verses in Lacuna Coil's history. The music keeps itself at a very mellow pace on this track, but it's the vocal work that makes this song so exquisite, both Christina beautiful voice and Andrea's deathlike growl. Finally, Stars ends this twenty minute Lacuna Coil classic. The song is very slow and the ballad of the CD. The song has a very catchy chorus and stands out as one of the best ballad tracks by Lacuna Coil.
Overall Rating: A classic EP by a band that was exceptionally better in their early days.
THIS WAS ORIGINALLY WRITTEN FOR SPUTNIKMUSIC. COM
I really don't see why this is an EP when it is more like a single! The first song is the only song that doesn't appear on Unleashed Memories. Since it is an EP, and there are only five songs, I will review the songs indvidually.
The first song is called Halflife, and the only really new song on this album. It has a weird distortion flanger type riff in the beginning which makes the atmoshpere of the song strange. I have found that Lacuna Coil does a good job of setting the mood in their songs. The style of the song changes periodically, either you like this style or not. Christinia's singing is beautifully done, even Andrea does great vocals on this song, blasting out some nice dm style vocals at the end of the song.
The second song doesn't even have lyrics to it. Trance Awake is more like an introduction to Senzafine the next song. It lasts about a minute and some, and really hits the high notes of the song. It has an impressive drum beat and strange sound effects that leave you on your feet in shock. Then it goes right into Senzafine (the next song). Senzafine makes its second debut on the album Unleashed Memories, however Trance Awake does not. Why the hell its not on Unleashed Memories is beyond my mind. Trance Awake makes Senzafine (an already kick ass song) ten times better. The song Senzafine is sung in a different language, I am guessing it is Italian, since the band comes from Italy. Overall the song has a nice tone, sets the mood; the only thing that sucks is Andrea's vocals during the chorus. It could be a lot cleaner; I think he was trying to hard at that point.
The last two songs are also on the album Unleashed Memories, and are perhaps the two best songs on that album. They set the mood, they have nice clean parts, and heavy distorted parts. Christinia once again displays her beautiful voice. Andrea also displays his kick ass growled death metal vocals on both songs. It's just an EP, so its not worth hunting down and putting in your collection, but for an EP, its not bad. Not bad at all!