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 411mania » Music » Album Reviews

Lacuna Coil Ė Karmacode Review
Posted by Ben Czajkowski on 04.04.2006

Opening Comments
If you're a reader of my column (All You Cannot Live Without), you are well aware that I've been obsessing over Lacuna Coil and Cristina Scabbia since my column's conception. I've done a comparison between Evanescence and Amy Lee with LC and Scabbia. They've received the Benjamin Czajkowski Stamp of Approval (many times in my mind), so it's really only natural that I'm putting out an album review for Karmacode.

Liner Notes
Cristina Scabbia, Female Vocals
Andrea Ferro, Male Vocals
Marco Coti Zelati, Bass
Cristiano Migliore, Guitars
Marco 'Maus' Biazzi, Guitars
Cristiano 'CriZ' Mozzati, Drums
Recorded: Fall-Winter 2005, 2006
Released: April 4, 2006
Websites: www.lacunacoil.com/, http://www.myspace.com/lacunacoil

Their Story Goes Like ThisÖ

Lacuna Coil is a six-member band hailing from Milan, Italy, although the vast majority of their lyrics are sung in English. If you've never listened to a Lacuna Coil song, you will find that their music is usually lumped into the category of "goth metal", which doesn't really cover their sound. The band has developed their own unique voice by using heavily distorted guitars overlaid with melodic keyboard arrangements and a powerful blend of both male and female lead vocals in Andrea Ferro and Cristina Scabbia, respectively.

The brainchild of bassist and chief songwriter Marco Coti-Zelati and Ferro, the group first formed in 1994 under the name Sleep of Right. They asked Scabbia to sing backing vocals on a few songs, but it wasn't long before they realized that her clear, soaring voice made the perfect complement to Ferro's deep growling style of singing, and they soon asked Scabbia to join the band permanently. Thus, the three core members of Lacuna Coil that remain today were in place. In 1996, they released a 2-song demo, changing the band's name to Ethereal, and this eventually led to a recording contract with Century Media in 1997 under the name Lacuna Coil (For those of you who wonder what meaning lies in the name of bands, the name "Lacuna Coil" means "empty spiral" and is said to represent the band's life philosophy).

Major players in the European metal scene for nearly a decade, the band was virtually unknown in the U.S. until they began touring there in 2003-4, with probably their greatest exposure resulting from the infamous Ozzfest tour. This discovery by American fans subsequently made Comalies the best-selling release in the history of Century Media, with over 150,000 copies sold last year in the U.S. alone. In addition to touring with Ozzfest, having a song ("Swamped") on the soundtrack of the movie "Resident Evil: Apocalypse" introduced them to new legions of U.S. fans. Add to that the promotion of Comalies through commercials on major music-video TV channels, and you have the recipe for the band's newfound international success.

Musical Notes

Lacuna Coil's new album, Karmacode, is scheduled for release this week, on April 4 via Century Media Records. They've done the whole press release thing. Plus, Christina Scabbia is fucking hott. What more do you need? Oh, yeah, a tour. Lacuna Coil have just kicked off a massive six-week U.S. tour as direct support to Rob Zombie. This trek, which runs through early May, is the group's first stateside run since Ozzfest 2004.

Okay, so what about the CD, you ask? Does it live up to all the hype?! Does it measure up to Comalies?! Have I wasted my time reading this dribble of Lacuna Coil vs. Evanescence?! Has Lacuna Coil sold out!?!? I'd say, slow down, dude. I can only take so much enthusiasm as once.

Alright, let me start by saying that I am not 100% pleased with this album. Let me state my case before you start writing angry hatemail at me. I believe I am justified in my thinking, and I'm going to back up my thoughts with some support. Here goes:

Karmacode, for me, has been hyped to the point where I expected perfection. I've read so many interviews and press releases that the band painted this album to be a pure work of gold. I'd say silver, at best. Now, it's not a complete bomb; not at all. Don't get that idea.

Let's start with what I think works. First of all, Ferro and Scabbia continue to trade vocals in a way that I've never known any other band to do with such ease. The way the two blend together on this album can, at times, be hypnotic. From the very beginning of the disc, with "Fragile", Scabbia immediately gets into your head with the classic Lacuna Coil opening (with Scabbia singing a few bars to warm up the track). Ferro slams you with his intense male sound, and the two create a "fragile" duet and walk a fine line perfectly. Wonderful opening track.

"To The Edge" changes it up a bit with more of a twangy intro and moves into a powerful baseline that you just can't help but fucking head bang to. Bam. Scabbia immediately hits you with her intense vocals that have sent shivers down my spine once or twice. During many of those interviews, Scabbia and Ferro said that they've picked up an American metal edge, and this track definitely exemplifies this idea. Might be my favorite track on the disc.

The album's first single, "Our Truth", received its worldwide debut on the Underworld: Evolution soundtrack, where it appeared alongside such acclaimed artists as Puscifier, (Maynard James Keenan's (Tool, A Perfect Circle) new project), Chester Bennington (Linkin Park), Slipknot, My Chemical Romance, Atreyu, and more. The video for the track was shot in Los Angeles by Fort Awesome, a brand-new directorial duo whose individual credits include Queens of the Stone Age, Linkin Park, Disturbed, Chevelle, and more. Powerful track. Great first single. I think this track probably tops the power that "Heaven's a Lie" delivered.

After the muscle that "Our Truth" flexes, with "Within Me" Lacuna Coil displays what else it's known for: airy, ethereal tracks that allows Scabbia to explore her vocal range and the band to mellow out a bit.

While "Devoted" picks it back up a little bit, this is the last track before the final few that doesn't just blend together for me, no matter how much I listen to the CD. The album changes direction a bit, and it slips into what many artists have been victim to, everyone from Godsmack's Faceless to Disturbed's 10,000 Fists and A Perfect Circle's Thirteenth Step: monotony and a downward spiral.

At this point, I'm not saying the middle of the album is terrible. Not at all. I just feel like a lot of the bass lines, lyrics, vocals, and keyboards just blend together for me. Maybe you have a different opinion on this, and that's fine, but I've listened to the CD 2 dozen times, and it does the same thing Comalies does to me: it loses my attention and my mind wanders (though "Fragments of Faith" still has a nice growl from Ferro").

Musically, however, the middle tracks are beautiful. Individually. Together, I still feel a bit sketchy on it, and I think that's where the monotony for me sets in. I think this might just be something on the side of the mixing and track arrangement.

Fortunately, "Closer" picks it back up for me. With an up-tempo pace, driving lyrics and vocals from Scabbia, the monotony is gone, and everything is back in place where the album should be.

The CD ends on a surprising track. I never put two and two together until I heard it. "Enjoy the Silence" is a Depeche Mode cover. I never even read any of that in a press release. Kind of felt like a crappy news reporter. This song has also been covered by several other artists, twice in the last year, if not more. Still a good spin on the song by Scabbia and the gang, and leaves me enjoying the silence, in a happy, satisfied way.

Here's how I ranked the tracks (I didn't credit Depeche Mode's lyrics, since Lacuna Coil didn't write them):

Track Rating
(Based on 5 star scale)
01. Fragile
Lyrics: (*****) Instrumentals: (****) Creativity: (****)
02. To The Edge
Lyrics: (*****) Instrumentals: (****) Creativity: (****)
03. Our Truth
Lyrics: (*****) Instrumentals: (****) Creativity: (*****)
04. Within Me
Lyrics: (*****) Instrumentals: (****) Creativity: (****)
05. Devoted
Lyrics: (****) Instrumentals: (****) Creativity: (*****)
06. You Create
Lyrics: (****) Instrumentals: (****) Creativity: (***)
07. What I See
Lyrics: (***) Instrumentals: (****) Creativity: (***)
08. Fragments of Faith
Lyrics: (****) Instrumentals: (****) Creativity: (****)
09. Closer
Lyrics: (*****) Instrumentals: (****) Creativity: (****)
10. In Visible Light
Lyrics: (****) Instrumentals: (****) Creativity: (****)
11. The Game
Lyrics: (****) Instrumentals: (****) Creativity: (****)
12. Within Fear
Lyrics: (****) Instrumentals: (****) Creativity: (****)
13. Enjoy the Silence
Lyrics: (n/a) Instrumentals: (****) Creativity: (****)

Average: Lyrics: (****1/3) Instrumentals: (****) Creativity: (****)

The 411: Despite how I feel the middle sagged a bit, the tracks stand well on their own. Lacuna Coilís follow-up to 2002ís Comalies will be a success. Karmacode is passionate vocals, writing, keyboards, guitar, bass, and drums. For what Cristina Scabbia and Andrea Ferro donít provide vocally, the instrumentals make up for it instantly. Itís everything you could hope for from the Italian rock/metalistas. I wouldnít be too surprised if this disc sells way more than 150,000 copies, like Comalies. Look for people to chalk them up, publicly, with the likes of Evanescence. Cristina Scabbia is still probably the hottest female vocalist in the business. If thatís not good for sales, I donít know what is. How about a fantastic album like Karmacode?
Final Score:  8.0   [ Very Good ]  legend


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