Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Lacuna Coil's 'Delirium' - Album Review

When I was first getting into rock and metal, I started with the classic bands. I soon was also seeking out 'newer' bands, and Lacuna Coil were one of the first that I started listening to. They were a bit of a gateway band for me, and I soon moved on to other bands, but for that reason I will always have a lot of love for the Italian goth rockers. Since 2006's Karmacode, the bands fourth album, the band seem to have been getting slowly more and more unpopular. Chasing the nu/alternative metal sound after that fad had already started to fade did not help, but they still wrote good songs. Since Karmacode, the band have released three more albums that all sound very similar: polished alternative hard rock for the American market with producers who work in the post-grunge world. These albums have all had their moments, but lack the quality songwriting of Karmacode or the gothic magic of the band's previous work, particularly 2002's Comalies, which seems to be regarded as their peak by many fans. The last couple of years have seen big changes in the Lacuna Coil camp however, and their new eighth studio album Delirium sees a drastically different band line-up than performed on 2014's Broken Crown Halo. Longtime guitarist Cristiano Migliore and drummer Cristiano Mozzati left the band in 2014 shortly after recording the band's last album, and the band's other guitarist Marco Biazzi left the band last year. This left the band's core members singers Cristina Scabbia and Andrea Ferro, and bassist Marco Coli Zelati to carry on the Lacuna Coil name with some new blood. English drummer Ryan Blake Folden (who toured with the band in 2012 when Mozzati was unable to) has joined the band on the permanent basis, and Delirium was recoreded as a four-piece, with Coti Zelati handling much of the album's guitar and keyboard work along with his usual bass guitar duties. Scabbia, Ferro, and Coti Zelati have always been the core songwriting team behind Lacuna Coil, so anyone expecting a big departure from anything the band has done before will be disappointed. That being said, Delirium definitely seems to be a 'return to their roots' album for Lacuna Coil, with many of the gothic trappings that characterised their first three albums pushed to the fore once again. Atmospheric keyboards are an ever-present part of the album, and Ferro cracks out some harsh vocals once again occasionally, something which he has not done for a while. Gone are the American-centric producers too, with Coti Zelati handling production along with his myriad of other duties! The result is the strongest Lacuna Coil album since 2006, and one that has the potential to hook in some wayward fans who were not a fan of the band's post-grunge direction since Comalies.

After some rather ethereal wordless vocals, the album gets off with a bang with The House of Sleep which is possibly the loudest opening to a Lacuna Coil album yet. Folden immediately makes his mark on the band, with some precise and heavy double bass drum work that is more prominent and impressive than most of the band's drumming to this point. Ferro handles the verses with his barking voice, and they have a grungy, nu-metal feel that bring early Slipknot to mind with some downtuned riffing and the steamroller drumming. Scabbia's voice is perfect for the soaring pre-chorus, which sees her hit some pretty high notes, and the doomy chorus which slows the pace and sees the keyboards dominate the sound. This is easily the most impressive song from the band in some time, and it is a perfect way to get this album underway. Broken Things again starts with a punch, as Ferro howls over a pacey metal cacophony. Ferro, often a much maligned vocalist, actually sounds pretty good throughout this album as he is allowed to let rip more often with the heavier material. Scabbia is still the star however and the subtle verses of this song, which are similar to the best moments of Karmacode, really brings out the best in her voice. This is a catchier song than the opening number, and has shades of the band's attempts to chase the American alternative rock sound, but with plenty of power to back it up. The album's title track, despite a rather repetitive chorus, is another strong song. Ferro sings much of the song, and his usual tuneless drone of a clean delivery seems much stronger and enjoyable here. He seems to have come into his own as a vocalist on this album, which is great to see. This is a song that I imagine will go down well live, where the repetitive chorus will be sung endlessly by a crowd. Blood, Tears, Dust opens with an industrial-inspired electronic section, but opens out into a djent-like downtuned rocker that sees Ferro's harsh vocals once again deployed. The mix of Ferro's heavier sections, and Scabbia's soundscapes are a great contrast, and bring to mind bands like Leaves' Eyes who thrive on that sound. There is a crazy guitar solo from American musician Mark Vollelunga, which is quite different from the band's usual solo-less style, and it helps to elevate the track to new heights. After four faster, heavier songs, Downfall comes in with a slow, gothic riff and an ethereal verse with Scabbia's beautiful vocal performance to match. She dominates this song, with Ferro adding harmonies here and there, and shows why she is one of the best loved frontwomen in modern metal. Myles Kennedy (The Mayfield Four; Alter Bridge; Slash), more known for his powerful rock voice, adds a bluesy and emotional guitar solo to the song which really fits in with the dense, power ballad vibe of the piece.

Take me Home opens with a creepy children's choir, but it soon morphs into another rocker with a dark, bass-driven verse which suits Ferro's howls perfectly. While Coti Zelati is more known as a bassist, his guitar riffing throughout is pretty solid. Nothing here is going to win any riff awards, but it gets the job done. His subtle leads throughout this song's verses are great though, and shows that he is a great all-round musician. The song's chorus is another one that is a bit too repetitive, but it benefits from some strong electronics and creates a surprisingly feel-good vibe. You Love Me 'Cause I Hate You sees a bit of a drop in quality from what has come before, and sounds too close to the forgettable songs from the band's more recent albums for comfort. It is a bit of a dirge, without ever really picking up any real pace or creating the right mood needed for slower, heavier songs. Ghost in the Mist picks things up again, with some powerful machine gun guitar riffing in the opening. The song's verse has real grit to it, with Scabbia's voice having more of an edge to it than usual. This is one of the more memorable songs on the album, with a smooth chorus that just lodges itself in the brain without much effort, an the aforementioned driving verse that is capped off with a repeat of the song's intro with some of Ferro's newly found vocal power. My Demons opens with some gentle vocals from Scabbia, but soon a bottom-heavy riff comes along to kick her out of the way. While I like this new look Lacuna Coil, some of the overly-djenty sections are hard going. The main riff of this song is one of them, and has me thinking of the scores of deathcore bands that were popular a few years ago. Ferro's vocals on this song are weird too, as he almost seems to be attempting (and failing) some black metal-style screaming during the verses. Scabbia's chorus is enjoyable however, as is the guitar solo from Diego Cavallotti, who is the band's current touring guitarist (no word yet on whether he is officially in the band), is rather good. Claustrophobia is a good mid-paced rocker, and sees Scabbia take some more of the spotlight back from Ferro. At one stage, she dominated the band's sound, but it seems Ferro has taken a much greater role this time. The heavy Ferro-driven verse followed by a soaring Scabbia chorus structure that dominates the album does wear thin somewhat as the songs move along, so it is good to see them utilise more of a call-and-response vocal style that gives both a chance to shine. The album's closing number Ultima Ratio is an upbeat, bouncy number that works well as an album closer. The chorus is a melodic feast with some extremely strong vocals from Scabbia, and the rest of the song is full of energy and crazy electronics that add to the upbeat nature. Overall, Delirium is a big step forward for Lacuna Coil and the band are back to sounding their best. The line-up chance the loss of the American-centric producers has helped the band's sound hugely, and I hope this is the start of a new lease of life.

The album was released on 27th May 2016 via Century Media Records. Below is the band's official lyric video for The House of Shame.

No comments:

Post a Comment