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Broken Crown Halo

Century Media (2014)
Rating: 8.5/10

Broken Crown Halo is the latest from goth-tinged Italian hard rockers Lacuna Coil. The follow up to the highly successful Dark Adrenaline (2012) and Shallow Life (2009) albums, Broken Crown Halo finds the band at a crossroads of sorts due to the departure of guitarist Cris Migliore and drummer Cristiano Mozzati after 16 years with the band (although both appear on this latest release).

The album was produced by Jay Baumgardner, the go-to producer for mainstream rock artists in the last decade or so. As Baumgardner’s history would suggest, the band continue their move away from the gothic, ethereal sound that they first made a name for themselves with.

The radio-friendly aspect of the band is at its most prominent on this release and, while many diehard longtime fans may grumble about it, I really dig it. The sound here is far superior to any of the band’s prior releases and the pristine polish really helps the guitar work shine through more and brings out the best in the dual vocalist set-up.

‘Zombie’ is a good example of what I’m getting at. It’s heavy during the verses and when the chorus rolls around and Cristina Scabbia takes over, it really soars. The guitars drive it, being enhanced by the rhythm section and the electronic tinges instead of buried by it like we heard on the last couple of albums. ‘In The End I Feel Alive’ has a similar feel to it, but the guitars bounce a little more and the chorus has more of an urgent sense about it than ‘Zombie’.

Lacuna Coil offer a few tunes here that are much more straightforward than usual as well. ‘I Forgive (But I Won’t Forget Your Name)’ for example is an even-keeled rocker with both vocalists singing completely clean. Scabbia really shines though, offering a ballsier oomph then she usually does. The album’s final track, a six-minute plus tune entitled ‘One Cold Day’, even hearkens back ever so slightly to the band’s first few albums. It’s got that dark, victorious feel to it that reminds me how much I loved Comalies (2002) back in the day, yet it doesn’t go as far as to make me want to dig out my Comalies CD either.

Overall, if you haven’t enjoyed the last few Lacuna Coil albums then Broken Crown Halo isn’t going to bring you back into the fold. As a matter of fact, it will probably create a further separation. Everything about this album is slick and polished and radio-friendly. For me, I love this side of Lacuna Coil and with Broken Crown Halo they have nearly perfected this aspect of themselves. There are a few songs that sound fairly similar to each other, but other than that, it’s an above average outing.

Mark Fisher

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