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Cristina & Co. begin their journey - 63%

Liquid_Braino, February 26th, 2012

The female-fronted gothic metal scene seems to have a spectrum that encompasses everything from mid-paced 'melodeath' layered with lush symphonics and feminine moaning to new age folk music with wispy “haunting” vocals and a metal tag due to a spliced in guitar solo. Somewhere in between those two checkpoints lies Lacuna Coil, one of the more commercially inclined and subsequently successful ventures in the gothic metal realm. Their output quite honestly boasts little of either ‘gothic’ or ‘metal’ in the strictest sense, but as a band on the fringes of metal and alternative hard rock, they possessed just enough straightforward heaviness devoid of nu-metal trappings that were rampant at the time of this release to warrant respect. I just wish some of the songs were better.

The EP starts off on the right foot. “No Need To Explain” wastes no time in dishing out the band’s obvious strength and trademark, that being Cristina Scabbia’s voice. Right from the start she’s laying bare her youthful soaring range, and embellishing her delivery with just enough inflections and personality to give the tune a unique flair of juxtaposing warmth in her singing with the drab starkness of the music, which plays like a heavy backdrop to her centerpiece. The guitar has enough weight to carry the overall sound further than an alternative pastiche and towards metal territory, but don't expect raging chainsaws or sludgy thick tones. The production doesn't emphasize any particular instrument, including vocals, but each piece of the puzzle is clearly audible while not sounding overtly polished.

I’ve heard some people say that it’s only a result of her looks that the band received any attention. I understand that concerning female led acts it certainly doesn’t hurt and in a few cases it can be deemed true to some extent, but in others it’s just childish vitriol. In this case, without Cristina, there would be no Lacuna Coil kicking around these days because she’s easily the most talented member of the group. Not just because she most likely can pull off wearing a corset better than the rest of the band members, but that the men, while competent players concerning their music, really display nothing to earn any praise. I’m not going to proclaim that Leonardo Forti is an undisputed master of maintaining a 4/4 mid-tempo beat because I just don’t think it means shit. Cristina, though, has some quality pipes and I’ll drink to that. The band wasn’t initially built around her, but she’s not in the group so the drummer can ogle a voluptuous buttocks during live performances; she’s in the group because at this early stage she practically IS the group.

Andea Ferro, Cristina’s male counterpart, doesn’t really fare quite well but gives it all his limited ability can handle, substituting talent with clench-fisted machismo. He surfaces for a larger portion of running time concerning tracks two through four, with vocals invoking the impression of a former frontman for a Metallica cover band from the outskirts of Milan. They don’t ruin these songs since, unlike the opening track, they are largely hookless and forgettable regardless of his input, but if anything he can sometimes be a liability with his limited skills.

It’s hard to actually categorize the sound of “The Secret” through “Soul Into Hades” without the word ‘banal’. They follow a similar pattern of a distorted guitar playing simple ennui inducing power chord riffs while a clean guitar provides bland melodies to flesh things out. It's not that they are atrociously written works, it's the fact that there's no notable feature to catch the listener off guard. A fast tempo or even merely an interesting chord progression would have done wonders for any of the three tracks. Even Cristina can’t save these, like I said, banal tunes, not that they are really worth saving in the first place. It’s as if she reserved her passion for her big aria in the following song, which is “Falling”. In this percussion-less number, the band really goes for that atmospheric moribund texture for once, eager to prove their worth among the more goth-leaning crowds, but in this scenario Cristina has other aims. A musical template like this would normally be accented and topped off with a mysterious, shoegaze-style feminine croon, but Cristina wants to show off her velvet chops, thus her vocal delivery here feels as if it graduated from the ‘Linda Ronstadt School of Voice’. “Falling” isn’t a disaster, and it’s certainly more memorable than most of this EP’s other tracks. It’s just that it’s either one of the strangest commercial pop ballads or one of the poppiest gothic soundscapes I’ve ever heard.

The album ends with an instrumental, which announces better than any critic as to how necessary Cristina is as the group’s focal point, although I will say the song does get a bit adventurous around the three minute mark, in which by then I’m usually dozing off.

So, Lacuna Coil’s beginnings were pretty humble, but the opening track was like a magnet to my ears with its strong vocal hooks and an air of dark yet sophisticated classiness, in that “No Need To Explain” goes well with a martini in some fake cobweb draped nightclub. Judging by the quality of their first full-length release the following year, these guys & gal learned from their experiences regarding the EP and improved enough to release a quality effort with In A Reverie. Still, I wouldn’t consider this debut a throwaway release for fans of Lacuna Coil; it’s an important document of their origins and has a couple of memorable tracks worth checking out, one being a doozy, and the other being an oddity of some merit.

A unique beginning.... - 80%

malibuman, August 20th, 2008

I well remember the occasion, it was 1997 and I was at the Camden Underworld to see Moonspell. Support came from an unknown Italian band (not much hope there I thought), well how wrong can you be? That night Lacuna Coil blew me away. Like every red blooded male in the room I instantly fell in love with Christina Scabbia and secured this debut E.P. as soon as possible.

Now I'm sure many of the people who saw that performance and others like it have stuck with the band as they have grown in size and declined in quality. But not me. This E.P. was great and the first album was pretty good, but after that I thought they really lost it, and since then they seem to have done nothing but repeat themselves over and over and over and over again.

But this E.P. is special, to me at least. I like the fact that it isn't overwhelmed with unnecessary downtuned riffs (well I say riffs, the same four powerchords would be more accurate if we are honest - and why do they need two guitar players anyway?) and instead focuses on Christina's lovely voice and some nice gently, mainly undistorted guitar parts and some fairly simple drumming.

I think the E.P. holds the attention because it is only six songs, that's probably where the first album started to go wrong. Even back at the start Lacuna Coil didn't display a whole lot of variety and you have to conclude that if it weren't for Ms Scabbia's looks they probably wouldn't still be around.

Not a bad start - 81%

grimdoom, July 23rd, 2008

Lacuna Coil review for s/t EP


The Lacuna Coil of today is not what we have on display here. This EP was the first proper offering from Italy’s best export. This recording also features the bands original line up prior to the two guitarist’s departure to 'Cayne'. This EP is where the idea of the bands sound was first born.

The production is standard for an early signer to Century Media in the early to mid nineties. The guitar work is clean and tight. There isn't very much heaviness in this melodic slice of Gothic Metal but the ideas expressed are original. The leads are a mix of clean, distorted and effects laden sound that are very different from anything you've ever heard. There is a solo of sorts but the rest are leads. The clean and effects driven aspects of this EP are what the Lacuna Coil of today is still using.

The bass wanders around but mostly follows the guitars. The drums are creative enough to keep things moving. There is some keyboard work here and there but it’s mostly for ambience.

The vocals are very good from both singers. Christina, who was originally brought in to be the backing vocalist, is up front and leading the group. Andre's voice is more or less the same as it sounds on 'Karmacode'. Both singers are trying to find their voices and don't really venture out of their comfort zones.

This is a very poppy sounding release. This is just metallic enough to be labeled "Heavy Metal" however. This is also a very mature recording for such a young band. The songs are well written and work well on their own. As a group they tend to drag a bit towards the middle of the EP, but they do pick up at the end. Considering what there succeeding albums sound like, they've really come a long way since this humble EP. Recommended for fans only.

A good EP - 80%

Cravinov13, May 31st, 2007

Lacuna Coil did not become famous until the released their 2003 effort, Comalies. Before that they released two amazing underground metal albums, In A Reverie and, of course, Unleashed Memories. They recently released their 2006 disappointment, Karmacode, in which they completely abandoned everything they stood for as a band. This self-titled EP, though, is where it all began. It was apparent from the start that Lacuna Coil would become a great doom influenced band (no one cold of predicted them to go mainstream), with slow and heavy riffs, powerful and emotional vocals, atmospheric music filled with occasional ambiance to give a very mystical feel, and male/ female duets on practically every song (even some occasional growled vocals here and there). With their first release, though, it was easy to tell that Lacuna Coil were not quite sure what there sound was gonna be (by the time Comalies came out though, it was obvious that Lacuna Coil was gonna become a lot like In Flames, which is a good band that will probably never be comfortable with their current sound).

The EP opens up with No Need To Explain, which begins with some drum clicks and spazzy keyboard ambiance before jumping into an upbeat, slowly paced guitar riffage that stays throughout the song. Both Cristina and Andrea contribute great vocal melodies to the track, adding to its happy sounding yet doomy feel. A guitar solo kicks in after the first chorus of the song before the vocals along wit some random keyboard moments pop back into the fray. The song is a great opener and is the second best track on this 6 track EP. Following No Need To Explain is The Secret..., which has a very soft, melodic intro which ascends into some slow chugging riffs before taken over by Andrea and his unique vocal style of raspy yet smooth singing. The song has some great guitar melodies and has avery ambient atmospheric feel, though is not a great song by Lacuna Coils standards, being rather simplistic, and not that catchy.

This Is My Dream has a very quiet bass line soon followed by some soft guitar plucks, making a very soft intro. The song is more or less a ballad in some ways, featuring both vocalist and very soft and soothing atmospheres. There is not a lot of guitar dynamics on this track, but they do kick in near the 3 minute marker. A very different feel from Lacuna Coil’s later albums and songs, but pretty well rounded and well flowing as a track. Soul Into Hades is another track a lot like The Secret..., though a lot more dynamic and stronger vocal performances on both sides of the spectrum. The track has some great musicianship on it (which sadly deteriorates after Unleashed Memories). Falling is the one and only true ballad by Lacuna Coil. Beginning with what sounds like winter winds, a very moody guitar melody comes in followed by some fancy synths. The track features only Cristina on vocals, and what a performance she gives. The song is very soft and quiet, and even gains strings in the back ground before the chorus of the song. Cristinas vocals are all the dynamics the song needs. By far the most softest Lacuna Coil has ever gotten, but also one of the strongest performances ever given on a studio recorded track. (Note: This song is also on Lacuna Coils sophomore release In A Reverie under the title Falling Again, which is basically the same song only with guitars and a heavier atmosphere and feel)

The last song is Un Fantasma Tra Noi, which means A Ghost Between Us". The song is the one and only instrumental piece by Lacuna Coil, and its filled with powerful guitar and bass riffs, drum lines, synths, and awesome guitar solos though out. A very progressive song and also a great closer for the EP.

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN FOR SPUTNIKMUSIC.COM

A well done debut. - 85%

The_Philosopher, August 1st, 2003

No Need To Explain has a mid paced and brooding guitar riff during the verse. Cristina's vocals are exquisite. The keyboard adds a NICE melody during the chorus. Everybody in the band is a pretty competent musician. There is a dynamic between the male and female vocals, but Cristina really shines. Overall, a decent song.

The Secret...starts with a lone guitar intro that is dark and depressing. A mid-paced metal riff runs over the verse. The chorus is the real attraction to this song. It's so damned catchy. More metal riffing after the chorus and before the next verse. The song changes pace at 2.30 and more mellow guitar work ensues. At 3.20 there is a little acoustic/electric break before the chorus. This is a very well done track.

This Is My Dream starts off with a depressing bass riff. Andrea's voice is pretty decent, and provides an excellent support for the female lead. The female vocal melodies in this track are excellent. The song changes direction at 2.46. It picks up the pace a little more, and then back into that excellent chorus melody.

Soul Into Hades - Here we have the best song of the EP. It's rather heavy compared to some of the other tracks. The dynamic of the male and female vocals works well once again. This is not her best vocal performance on the EP, that will come on the next track, but this is definetly well performed. This is the song that got me into Lacuna Coil.

Falling - This track is extremely atmospheric. It's basically created to show off Cristina's talents. And it works! She has this amazing voice, it's sexy in a way. She really shines on this track. The acoustic guitar really adds a lot, along with the keyboard melodies.

A Ghost Between Us is in the same vein as the other tracks, in that it is depressing and brooding. At 1.43 there is a pretty sweet guitar lead. It is a decent closer to the album.

If you like Theatre of Tragedy and/or The Gathering, you will probably like this EP. If not, don't even bother.

Not even worth a nickle! zzz - 58%

PowerMetalGuardian, May 18th, 2003

Boo! Bad thing to do my friends! It's just kind of pointless to come out with your first album, self title it, and then make it an EP! Especially when it is a piece of crap like this album. Well it's not total crap, but it's pretty close!

No Need To Explain- Probably the best song on this album. It starts out kind of funky, but then turns into the heaviest Lacuna Coil song I have ever heard! Cristina uses her powerful voice to make the music blend out wonderfully, and wonderfully backed by Andrea. Everything about this song works togther. Vocals, guitar riffs, lyrics (very deep) and all the other weird parts...this is the album...the rest is useless.

The Secret...- This song is good, if you like those slow, pointless melodic songs. It starts off with a cool clean riff, but it just doesn't go anywhere, even when it throws in distortion. Thats pretty much how this whole song is, slow and melodic. It put me to sleep a couple times, so watch out for this one. I say it compares to a lot of Opeth songs, so if your into that stuff then you'll like this song.

This is my Dream- Song starts out with a wierd bass riff. Interesting, then clean melodic guitar riffs. Man, this song is slower then The Secret... I for one can't get into the slow melodic songs. What's good about this song? The singing is great. Cristinia does beautiful vocal work, while Andrea does this cool wispering vocal part, really makes for a dramatic mood.

Soul Into Hades- AHHHHHHH! Again we see a very clean, melodic, slow riff opening the song. At least it doesn't take long to jump into the distortion. Music wise, it's like all the other slow ass songs on this album, but the vocals once again get an A. Andrea starts out this song and blasts his low toned vocal range. The lyrics are very deep, so if your into those deep lyrics about dying, then this album is for you.

Falling- A little better, only because it starts out with some cool sound effects. Then a slow, melodic riff. Can you say repeditive? So about a minute later in this song, the same riff is going and Cristinia sings. Again good singing, but this song will put you to sleep faster than counting sheep.

Un Fantasma Tra Noi (A Ghost Between Us)- The last song on this EP, doesn't even have any singing. It's more of an instrumental if you want to call it that. It has its slow, melodic parts (zzz) and its distorted parts, but nonthing that will make you want to get out of your seat and headbang.

This album is very repeditive and very crappy. All the songs sound basically the same. While the lyrics are deep and the singing is enjoying, the clean intros and very few distorted parts leave this EP worth a nickle, if not that much. I would NOT recommend this to any one, simply because Lacuna Coil has better albums. I would only get this if you are a seasoned Lacuna Coil veteran...