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Lacuna Coil - "Broken Crown Halo" (CD)

Lacuna Coil - "Broken Crown Halo" CD cover image

"Broken Crown Halo" track listing:

1. Nothing Stands In Our Way
2. Zombies
3. Hostage To The Light
4. Victims
5. Die & Rise
6. I Forgive (But I Won't Forget Your Name)
7. Cybersleep
8. Infection
9. I Burn In You
10. In The End I Feel Alive
11. One Cold Day

Reviewed by on April 14, 2014

"'Dark Adrenaline' kicked off the new era of songwriting maturity in which all prior musical elements are honored and blended; 'Broken Crown Halo' only ups the ante."

Since the career-summarizing success that was “Dark Adrenaline” [2012], Lacuna Coil’s next artistic step was uncertain to many. Some satisfied fans hoped the Italian masters (and mistress) of ethereal melody would repeat their previous triumph; tentative and former fans, disgruntled and disillusioned since “Karmacode” [2006], pleaded warily for a “return to the roots” – in translation, the three albums prior. No one seemed able to get along.

Lacuna Coil has apparently paid equal heed to both camps of thought as well as the band's own musical instincts, for “Broken Crown Halo” is as close as conceivably possible to meaning everything to everyone. A natural successor to “Dark Adrenaline,” this effort surges with that album’s modern pulse while delving even deeper into the ghostly recesses of the band’s history. Somehow it all works splendidly, resulting in some instant classics and one of Lacuna Coil’s strongest efforts to date.

The album benefits from a crafty, meticulous structure. Lacuna Coil’s adopted and hotly contested Korn influences – thick, lumbering mid-paced grooves to a martial 4/4 drumbeat – remain, but stronger and more self-assured than ever. These specimens, “Nothing Stands In Our Way,” “Die & Rise,” “Infection,” and "In The End I Feel Alive," are sprinkled strategically throughout the track list as load-bearing bulkheads, reassuring signposts to guide listeners down what reveals itself as a nostalgic rabbit hole.

Between these signposts stretch deep pools of roots-tribute; this is the gothic rock/metal of yore so many have been waiting for. “Hostage To The Light” and “Cybersleep” echo sophomore album “Unleashed Memories,” [2001] while “Victims” and “One Cold Day” revisit the chills of “Comalies.” [2002] “I Forgive (But I Won’t Forget Your Name)” calls to mind “Circle,” the opening track of debut “In A Reverie.” [1999] “Zombies” and “I Burn In You” toy subtly with Meshuggah-esque rhythms, and the latter boasts vocal melodies moving and memorable enough to make the song a career highlight.

Speaking of vocal melodies, the interplay between front-duo Cristina Scabbia and Andrea Ferro continues to grow in creativity. “Dark Adrenaline” dispensed with what was becoming rote predictability, and “Broken Crown Halo” sees a further withdrawal from the brink. Scabbia belts ‘em out with a sultry empowerment, Ferro resurrects his harsh growls of old to complement his Al Dente melodic rasp, and the two hit just the right amount of magical harmonies to cause shivers.

After sixteen years of recordings, Lacuna Coil’s discography is now divisible into distinct phases. The original era culminated with the perfection of “Comalies,” often cited as the band’s best album. “Karmacode” and “Shallow Life” [2009] constituted the middle era, rife with experimentation and fan base fracturing. “Dark Adrenaline” kicked off the new era of songwriting maturity in which all prior musical elements are honored and blended; “Broken Crown Halo” only ups the ante. This is a fantastic, all-encompassing album that offers something special for everyone.

Highs: From a disc full of winners, "I Burn In You" is a standout killer.

Lows: Depends on your expectations and flexibility, doesn't it? If you're looking for a mix of past and present, there are no lows here.

Bottom line: Lacuna Coil's strongest effort since "Comalies" and a compelling roadmap through the band's musical history.

Rated 5.0 out of 5 skulls
5.0 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)