Sunday, 29 January 2012

Review: Lacuna Coil - Dark Adrenaline

 The success of Italian gothic-metallers truly peaked in 2009, when they released Shallow Life, an album that got them into the U.S Top 20 Album Charts and sold over 225,000 copies worldwide. However, as the more streamlined and polished production from Don Gilmore (known best for his production work with Linkin Park and Good Charlotte and many more) was a move that gained the group more mainstream popularity and more fans, it inevitably lost them a lot of original fans who despised the slicker sound and greater emphasis on technical effects rather than traditional symphonic. Needless to say the claims that Lacuna Coil had sold out and become Evanescence came thick and fast. So, if you're one of these original fans who despise this new sound, I'd recommend staying away from new album Dark Adrenaline. If you like massive hooks and streamlined songwriting with class, then I'd recommend you stay on track because this album has a lot to offer.
 This use of hooks, chugging riffs and icy buzzing synthesizers has an obvious ring of mainstream radio metal-ness about it but Lacuna Coil, armed with their twisted gothic sensibilities and the near perfect vocal duo of Cristina Scabbia and Andrea Ferro use this to an astonishing effect and manage to introduce a few surprises along the way. Anyone who has a similar mindset to myself and heard the album's lead single Trip the Darkness will surely agree.
 Anyway, this mix of gothic drenched brains with meaty streamlined metal is present across the albums and the hefty slabs of riffing found in Against You and The Army Inside (the latter of which contains a spellbinding shredding solo from Cristiano Migliore) contain a powerful atmosphere of darkness and are fueled purely by... adrenaline. And thus the album's music lives up perfectly to it's title. We should see that happen more today. The last Nickelback album could have been called Repetitive Blandness with Embarrassing Lyrics. Anyway, songs like these bring a greater sophistication and passion to this polished metal sound and takes it to a level that Shallow Life could never reach.
  Obviously, as stated earlier the overall sound of the album does feature this more mainstream polish to the dismay of many fans and comparisons Evanescence have become more prominent. While tracks like Upsidedown and Intoxicated do contain a reminiscence to Amy Lee and crew, there is a much greater class and a lesser sense of whining provided by Lacuna Coil and the greater bursts of vocal energy from Scabbia and  Ferro allow these songs to carry their own avid personality. To contrast from this, the epic closer of My Spirit, with it's more doom-laden and bleaker atmosphere crafted by it's slow rhythms have a much greater reminiscence to the group's earlier work, which is surely a hopeful sign for some long-time fans.
 If the album has any weak spots, it is of course in the cover of R.E.M's Losing My Religion, the only really memorable song from 1991s Out of Time. Lacuna Coil's cover is a sloppy attempt to just recreate the original but the verse sections are very much slipped up on. The only saving grace of the song is the powerful performance from Ferro, Cristiano Migliore and Marco Biazzi during the choral "I though that I heard you laughing/ I thought that I heard you sing" sections. Other than that little is done to make it their own so it pales in comparison to the original.
 Apart from that, there's a lot to be found on Dark Adrenaline if you want to see a touch of cold gothic charm brought to a musical style that constantly carries the danger of sounding too repetitive with it. It's infectiously hooky but also allows for some seriously dark and gripping moments amongst this. It may take some time for die-hard fans of the bands older material to warm to this but if any album is going to unite fans old and new, this is going to do a much better job than Shallow Life.

 Lacuna Coil's Dark Adrenaline is out now via Century Media.

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