Lacuna Coil - Black Anima
Century Media
Alt/Gothic Metal
11 songs (45:10)
Release year: 2019
Lacuna Coil, Century Media
Reviewed by Goat
Major event

After getting about as poppy as they could on past releases it's a pleasant surprise to reconnect with Lacuna Coil and discover that they've been getting heavier, parts of 2016's Delirium having a spooky deathcore vibe very much at odds with the post-Korn rock that they have been playing since 2009's Shallow Life. And Black Anima continues to show off this heavier side of the Italians, something like a more straightforward Paradise Lost. Despite the Korn influence still being felt, it's incorporated far better into the band's sound, which even includes guitar solos now. The songwriting is very strong too, with no real downpoints apart from intro Anima Nera being skippable, mainly Cristina Scabbia witchily chanting over a piano and electronic backing. Yet the first track proper Sword of Anger is about the heaviest thing the band have ever done, Andrea Ferro's initial growl of "we are the enemy!" kicking off the first of many downtuned chugging riffs, a more melodic undertone contrasting well and matching the vocalists' beauty and the beast routine.

The formula is at its best on single Reckless, led by Cristina's always wonderful voice and counterpointed by Andrea, culminating in the catchiest Lacuna Coil chorus since Our Truth. Little touches like bursts of electronica actually work terrifically, distracting you from the at times rather simplistic rhythm section, and the guitar soloing here and on other tracks is impossible to fault, courtesy of new man Diego Cavallotti. And the band throw in enough variety to keep things interesting, such as the sped-up, almost djenty crunch of Layers of Time, which allows Cristina to stretch her range impressively, and contrasts well with the following slower, more atmospheric Apocalypse. The gothic darkness that had been absent from the band for so long is back with a vengeance, the darker, edgier vibe refreshing on the likes of Now or Never, which rides that Paradise Lost influence hard and is all the better for it (although the brief shrieky rap section could have been left out!) and there's even a touch of operatic metal to parts of Veneficium, Cristina again showing her range. And although Andrea Ferro's clean singing still isn't as good as his growl, he especially enhances The End is All I Can See, like a woozy return to Unleashed Memories territory (still their best album).

As the ending title track shows, he's best when growling, giving the infectiously grooving slow-burner an extra punch. Throughout, the songs are listenable and enjoyable, Black Anima full of danceable bangers like Save Me, straightforward and fun in a way that Lacuna Coil have aimed for but not achieved in a while. Even the bonus tracks on the album's special edition are great, pushing the heaviness and intensity up on Black Feathers and the doomy Through the Flames having a delightfully gothic edge. It's a reminder of Lacuna Coil's early days, when they were truly gothic metal and hadn't yet turned into the radio-friendly hip flavour of the moment. Which is about as high an expectation as you could have for a Lacuna Coil album in 2019, really! Sure not to please those who want nothing but gothic metal from the Italians, having too much of that modern alt metal in its DNA, but even so, this is without a doubt their best album since Comalies, and a contender for comeback of the decade.

Killing Songs :
Reckless, Layers of Time, Now or Never, Save Me
Goat quoted 85 / 100
Other albums by Lacuna Coil that we have reviewed:
Lacuna Coil - Broken Crown Halo reviewed by Joel and quoted 82 / 100
Lacuna Coil - Dark Adrenaline reviewed by Cory and quoted 72 / 100
Lacuna Coil - Shallow Life reviewed by Goat and quoted 75 / 100
Lacuna Coil - Karmacode reviewed by Marty and quoted 80 / 100
Lacuna Coil - In a Reverie reviewed by Jay and quoted 80 / 100
To see all 8 reviews click here
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