The signature sound of Italian gothic metallers Lacuna Coil has evolved through the last decade. Starting with 2012’s Dark Adrenaline, the band started exploring heavier tones and more metal-oriented drum patterns. Prior to the release of 2014’s Broken Crown Halo, longtime members Cristiano Mozzati (drums), Marco Biazzi (guitars), and Cristiano Migliore (guitars) left the band after sixteen years. Enter new drummer Ryan Blake Folden, and 2016’s Delirium went to a darker place than any of the band’s work had before. Richard Meiz of Genus Ordinis Dei replaced Folden this last July, and with the addition of guitarist Diego Cavalotti (also of Acid Ocean), the newest offering Black Anima is a whole new world of heavy for the band.
A harder tone isn’t the only chance this album takes. In the opening track “Anima Nera,” frontwoman Cristina Scabbia’s vocals go for a softer, breathier turn, as opposed to her usual commanding intonation, and while it works for the track, it is still a bit out of left field. “Sword of Anger” is a crushing track, though as a longtime Lacuna Coil fan, it is still something to get used to, hearing male vocalist Andrea Ferro growl more than he does sing. “Reckless” chugs along with a four-on-the-floor groove, and Cristina’s vocals soar properly.
Everything there is to say about “Layers of Time,” the maiden single from this album, I’ve already said when it dropped in July (read about it HERE). It is a strong track from which to anchor the album, and fully encompasses the evolution of the band’s sound. “Apocalypse” has a grand, epic sound befitting of the title, and even hearkens back a bit to older Lacuna Coil. “Now or Never” is a fun track, and the talk-singing, almost chanting by Cristina during the bridge section is another double-take moment, but definitely not a bad thing.
“Under the Surface” surprised me in the best ways. The verses have chugging, heavy guitars, though the chorus takes a more 4/4 groove that makes for a catchy track. The footwork of new drummer Richard Meiz is at its best in “Veneficium,” a six-plus minute banger. “The End is All I Can See” is catchy, if a bit one-dimensional. Granted, a band with the experience of Lacuna Coil can make a “safe” track sound awesome, but this one was very middle of the road for me.
The vocal interplay between Cristina Scabbia and Andrea Ferro makes the final two tracks of this album, “Save Me” and the title track “Black Anima.” The fake-out ending on the former is a nice touch for those lost in the sonic brilliance, and the latter has Cristina’s vocals soaring as only they can. These two tracks close out what is a triumph of an album, a testament to the careful crafting of the sound that, even twenty-five years after the band’s founding, is still fluid enough to be exciting, yet reliable enough to mean something.
Lacuna Coil is currently on a co-headlining tour with All That Remains, featuring Bad Omens, Toothgrinder, Uncured, and Eximious.