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Lacuna Coil - "Dark Adrenaline" (CD)

Lacuna Coil - "Dark Adrenaline" CD cover image

"Dark Adrenaline" track listing:

1. Trip The Darkness
2. Against You
3. Kill The Light
4. Give Me Something More
5. Upsidedown
6. End Of Time
7. I Don't Believe In Tomorrow
8. Intoxicated
9. The Army Inside
10. Losing My Religion
11. Fire
12. My Spirit

Reviewed by on February 3, 2012

"'Dark Adrenaline' carries an appropriate title; it's meant to be felt more than heard."

At the risk of grotesque generalization, I’ll herewith describe two types of Lacuna Coil’s listeners: fans, and elite metalheads who wielded them as a truncheon to bash Evanescence back in 2003 – only to drop them like a dead rat once they attained comparable levels of mainstream success. The former will properly recognize “Dark Adrenaline” as perhaps the band’s finest work. The latter may or may not be swayed. If you don’t fit either (admittedly narrow) category, my apologies. You still ought to give this fine album a spin.

“Dark Adrenaline” is a near-perfect culmination of all Lacuna Coil’s albums to date; a smooth synthesis of every stylistic attribute they’ve exhibited. The pop-driven strains of 2009’s “Shallow Life” and the Korn-fed crunch of 2006’s controversial “Karmacode” are best exemplified, respectively, in “Kill The Light” and “Upsidedown.” But the airy, ethereal drift that permeated their early work – which earned them the “gothic metal” brand by virtue of its sheer, floating effortlessness – has come full circle and returned. “End Of Time” and “Give Me Something More” are matured, logical extensions of 1999’s “In A Reverie” and 2001’s “Unleashed Memories.” The strongest current, by far, flows from the band’s breakout 2002 release “Comalies.” Long considered Lacuna Coil’s high water mark, that album makes its presence felt throughout in a fresh, reinvigorating way, most stunningly with opener and first single “Trip The Darkness.”

Increased songwriting firepower and masterful production bring untold benefits to this album’s overall sound. “Against You,” “I Don’t Believe In Tomorrow,” “Intoxicated,” and “The Army Inside” place extra pressure on the gas pedal, outpacing Lacuna Coil’s entire catalogue and making this their speediest work. The adventurous rise-and-fall dynamics of these songs contain just the right touch of progressive metal, obliterating the comparatively stagnant tempos of the previous two albums. Guitarists Marco Biazzi and Cristiano Migliore embrace metal guitar tighter than ever, with more vivid leads and added solos (yes, this album contains actual shredding). Vocalists Cristina Scabbia and Andrea Ferro shuffle their famous dual interplay and all but eliminate its predictability, reminding that their co-fronting position is no gimmick. Returning producer Don Gilmore plays for keeps behind the boards; he puts his work on “Shallow Life” to utter shame and squeezes from the band a precise, wall-to-wall rumble that mimics the moon itself rolling through your bedroom. “Dark Adrenaline” carries an appropriate title; it’s meant to be FELT more than heard.

The only real complaint here is a rather minor one – and no, it’s NOT the much-ballyhooed cover of R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion,” which the band expertly adopts as its own. Rather, Scabbia’s moving verses in “End Of Time” promise an explosive emotional release that never arrives. The Ferro-led chorus fails to reach the advertised peak and leaves the listener a tad dissatisfied. Draw whatever sexual metaphors you wish. Outside that forgivable and easily overlooked weakness, “Dark Adrenaline” is a thrilling collection of melodic metal and hard rock songs, one knockout of an album, and a career-topping opus for Lacuna Coil.

Highs: "Trip The Darkness," "Intoxicated," guitars with a meaner attitude, production with bigger balls.

Lows: "End Of Time" fails to deliver a promised catharsis.

Bottom line: A new high water mark for Lacuna Coil that accounts for their entire career to date, with prowess and power.

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls

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)