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Yeah...its a rocker. - 89%

grimdoom, April 17th, 2009

The question you should be asking yourself right now is; “Do I want to hear the new Lacuna Coil album after the horror that befell my ears on their last effort?” After gazing at the cover and seeing the painfully emo/screamo/indie glass hand grenade more questions will eventually fill your mind, like: “What will it sound like? Will it be Metal? Will it be Korn? Will it be what I want it to be?” The answer to all of these and more is a resounding, maybe. Yes, that is a painfully ambiguous and ignorant answer but this album is unlike anything these Italians have done before. Upon the first few seconds of sound you instantly think ‘Karmacode’ with the strange samples but as soon as the noise stops and the music starts you think ‘Comalies’, only heavier. The second track (as well as the better part of the third track) is straight dance music with Metal guitars thrown in for good measure. The darkness of the past is gone (get used to it) but the melancholy is back. This album takes the better parts of their last album and blends them with the heavier more melancholic parts of ‘Unleashed Memories’ and ‘Comalies’ and mixes them with several different and surprisingly good influences.

The production is pretty good, possibly less than ‘Karmacode’ in a few places. The mixing is strange with the vocals and keyboards taking precedence over the other instruments in various places in various songs. The guitars are instantly reminiscent of those heard on ‘Comalies’ only heavier. Gone are the ‘Kornesqe’ dirges and one note riffs. They are lighter than ‘Karmacode’ however. On a couple of songs at the end of the album there are some real solos. The guitar riffs and harmonies are once again pushing the boundaries of their style into uncharted territory. There are some instantly recognizable riffs but they ultimately lead off into new places. The melodies are arguably refreshing, incorporating new styles; some funk and a lot of Rock but the flavor is ultimately Metal. There aren’t as many leads but the few that are there do well to accentuate the music as a whole. There is about an equal amount of palm muting to open chorded playing with more emphasis on the open chorded style. They also take full advantage of their Line 6 heads and use tons of effects.

Thankfully the bass has rediscovered its own voice. The Korn rattle is gone and the original sound that the fans are accustomed to is back. The biggest let downs would be that it follows the guitars way too much.

The drums are a huge let down all around. Typically Cristiano is a very creative drummer but over all he really phoned this album in. The first song is where he really shines, utilizing a tasteful amount of Meshuggah and older Coil to a surprisingly brutal effect. There is some different keyboard play in here as well provided by Marco. The overall feeling is slightly techno but the underlying tone is the Gothic/Lacuna Coil style that they’ve created.

This is still very much Lacuna Coil but different in so many ways. This album is incredibly experimental in every sense of the word yet subdued at the same time. Thankfully it has more in common with the European sound than the mainstream American sound of their past effort(s). There are a lot of effects on the vocals, mostly Christina’s, flange, echo, etc… they really went to town on this album.
Christina’s vocals are a mixed bag. For the most part she plays it safe in the midrange not venturing out of this area much except for in the chorus and perhaps more prominent parts of certain songs. She uses her voice in several different ways, using more lows and midrange than just her typical full on highs. Andrea is strong in the first song and a couple of songs towards the end of the album but is hardly in the bulk of the material. The vocal tandems showcase him in the foreground, more so than Christina in most instances.

This is a tough call as far as a rating. Upon first listen this is sits between 60-70, but upon the second, third, fifth, etc… you start to hear more and more positives. Is this a return to form? Not really no, but it is more than a glance over the shoulder. They have truly pushed themselves into a new direction instead of following the advice of the record label. This album is painfully original and exploratory. The mixing of the heavier songs with the softer songs all the while never having too much of both in any one song at the same time is intriguing. There are a few parts that remind one of Paradise Lost though indirectly as if they borrowed a few notes here and there. More often then not Mortal Love is brought to mind as a sound alike, though it’s fairly probable that they didn’t copy the Norwegians.

Yes there are songs to dance to, but there are also songs to bang your head to. There is a lot going on here. The atmosphere is electric and alive; tiny bits of alternative and ambient mix with more sinister and darker moments to make the full spectrum of feelings. An album like this reminds one of Paradise Lost and their never ending quest to reinvent themselves, only unlike PL it didn’t take LC five albums to figure it out. This is a breath of fresh air for any who thought ‘Karmacode’ sucked. This is an album for those who thought ‘Comalies’ was too light. This really is an excellent summer release (though not very “Gothic” in that sense) that all should give a few spins.