Lacuna Coil: Broken Crown Halo – Album Review

by Mike Lawrence on April 3, 2014

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Lacuna Coil’s last release Dark Adrenaline received major kudos because the band returned to their Gothic metal roots and the vocals by Cristina Scabbia and Andrea Ferro came together better than they ever had before.  Therefore the band’s latest release had a lot to live up to.  Would the band be able to continue this return to form? Would the vocals sound as good?  The answers to both questions are yes.  With Broken Crown Halo, the band continues further back down the Gothic metal path with even fewer alternative metal elements than Dark Adrenaline.  It’s also amazing to say that the vocals of Scabbia and Ferro have once again gotten even better, especially those of Ferro.  Normally, when I hear a Lacuna Coil release, I am craving more vocals from Scabbia.  In the past the band tended to over use Ferro’s vocals, which quite frankly were not as good.  However with their latest release, I found myself wanting to hear more singing from Ferro. He has upped his game so much here that he is on an entirely different plain than he used to be.  The shear effort, rasp and oomph put into his vocals this time is unbelievably excellent.

As usual the musicianship is solid.  It’s nothing that will have you jumping out of your seat, but things are kept simple and the arrangements all fit Lacuna Coil perfectly.  The band members also certainly continue to show growth. The bass lines and keyboard work of Marco Coti Zelati are excellent and add atmospheric depth to the songs.  Guitarist Marco Biazzi also shows off some lead guitar skills that were not present on any of the band’s other albums.  This is most evident in the songs “Zombies” and “One Cold Day” where we get a couple of really well done solos.  Also the lead guitar licks on “Cybersleep” is some of the best work of his career.

Yes the album continues to get back to the roots of Lacuna Coil.  However, the execution falls slightly short of Dark Adrenaline.  I am not at all saying that the album is not good.  It is downright excellent.  It just doesn’t have the consistency of the previous albumBroken Crown Halo certainly has an excellent mix of heavy and ballad-like songs, but some of those slower songs get a bit too simple.  On songs like “I Forgive (But I Won’t Forget Your Name)”  and “I Burn You”, the arrangements come off as very plain, although we do get some solid beauty and the beast vocals from Scabbia and Ferro.  The ballads “Hostage to the Light” and “One Cold Day” are Cristina Scabbia solo vocals songs that could have benefited from some of Andrea Ferro’s amazing vocal work that I discussed earlier in the review.    There is only one track that I would say that I did not care for at all and that was “Victims”.  It has really weird vocals from Scabbia and comes at a point where it messes a bit with the album’s flow.  Having said all of this, these are still very listenable tracks (with the exception of “Victims”) that should absolutely not be missed.  They are just not as strong as everything that Dark Adrenaline had to offer.

Now, the stand out tracks on the newest release are probably better than many of the songs on Lacuna Coil’s previous album.  Because we have such a contrast in track quality, this is where that inconsistency on Broken Crown Halo as compared to Dark Adrenaline comes into play.  The best songs on the new album include “Nothing Stands in Our Way”, “Zombies”, “Die & Rise”, “Cybersleep”, “Infection” and “In the End I Feel Alive”.  Things open with “Nothing Stands in Our Way” which continues and builds upon Scabbia and Ferro’s vocal chorus harmonies from the last album.  This track along with the second song “Zombies” really introduce us to what we’re in store for with Ferro’s greatly improved vocal performance.  “Die and Rise” is one of the heavier tracks on the album, while “Cybersleep” is easily the album’s best slower paced song.  “Infection” is a very simple arrangement, but it is very heavy and classic Lacuna Coil.  “In the End I Feel Alive” should have been the track that ended the album as it meshed perfectly with the album’s opener.

Lastly I will say that I love the title of this album.  In a day in age where many albums have pretentious, rehashed or one word album titles, Lacuna Coil gives us an original and well thought out long form album title that matched perfectly with the dark, atmospheric and horror movie-like tone of the album.  It’s nice to see that Lacuna Coil continues to move in a much darker direction and the result is one of the band’s best albums.  Unfortunately a few inconsistencies keep this from being what could have their greatest album yet.  Nonetheless, make sure you snatch this one up.  You will not be disappointed and die hard fans of Lacuna Coil will definitely be more than satisfied with what the band has managed to put together once again.  It is certainly refreshing to see a band that continues to evolve, but has not forgotten about their past.  With Broken Crown Halo, Lacuna Coil once again sets a precedent that one can only hope that bands who have forgotten their roots will soon begin to follow.

Rating: 3.9/5

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