Lacuna Coil have hit a wall as far as their sound and growth as a band. The otherworldly quality that the band once possessed has dissipated. Sometimes, their nu metal leanings are too much to take, as the bass and guitars recall the awful subgenre. Korn-obsessed trappings aren't ever a good thing. Employing a producer (Jay Baumgardner) whose best credit (albeit as mixer) is for an album and band (Evanescence's Fallen) that blatantly ripped you off is even worse. While the magic of their sound may have had its proverbial rabbit put back into the hat, this doesn't mean they aren't still capable of delivering a few tricks.
The performance strength of the band has always been the vocals of Cristina Scabbia. She elevates otherwise mediocre songs like “Nothing Stands in Our Way” and “In the End I Feel Alive”. Her melody line in “Zombies” raises the game but is undermined by the screaming of other vocalist Andrea Ferro. As much as ever, one has to wonder what he really offers the proceedings other than a healthy dose of annoyance. The lone exception comes on “I Burn in You”, the one track where he actually sings. However, that doesn't last as the his growling doesn't lie dormant forever. The best balance of their voices comes in “I Forgive” but mostly it's Scabbia's harmonies in the chorus that are chill-inducing.
Ferro takes a powder during “Cybersleep” and “Hostage to the Light”, allowing the peasants a chance to rejoice. Synth strings add texture and a brief but welcome reprieve to the pounding of the rest of the album. Scabbia's voice is strong and is allowed to soar up and down her vocal range. “Hostage”, along with “I Forgive”, are the best offerings on the album by a good margin. They measure up with the best of the band's catalog.
Far from the band's worst album (looking at you, Shallow Life), Broken Crown Halo is hardly the band's apex. It breaks no new ground and comes off a little stale. There's nothing wrong with not fixing what isn't broken but there's no doubt that American metal's influence on the band has put them in a small rut. Perhaps a producer willing to challenge the band could bring out more of what they're capable of rather than allowing them to continue devolving.
Broken Crown Halo comes out Apr 1. The band comes to the area on Apr 17 at Austin's in Libertyville.