Lacuna Coil is a band that I used to like pretty well. I’ve seen them live a few times and I thought they put on pretty good shows and I have a lot of respect for them as a hardworking touring band. Musically, though, I think they’ve been pretty hit and miss. While I enjoy In A Reverie, Unleashed Memories and liked a few songs off of Comalies, their modern sound has developed into something that is really quite derivative of the American “nu-metal trend” and specifically their last record Shallow Life was produced in a way that sounded exactly like Linkin Park and was entirely unlistenable to these ears. So I have to say that it was with consternation that I elected to start listening to this album in the first place.
But it’s important to remember that Lacuna Coil has three records that I enjoy, as well, and opening track (and single) “Trip the Darkness” shows why. While male vocalist Andrea Ferro drones on in his redundancy, Cristina’s chorus parts are really fantastic and the song has hooks and grooves that are enjoyable. The production is a huge step up from the last time around, as well. While thick, it isn’t overly based on a slappy, trebly bass sound and the guitars sound chunky and meaty as hell and seem more active (hell, there’s even a guitar solo in “Against You,” when did that happen last?). I was actually very encouraged by this track because I really enjoyed it pretty well. It’s not as strong an opener as say “Swamped” was, but it certainly was listenable.
Dark Adrenaline as a whole, however, is almost binary in its character. On the one hand, there’s Cristina Scabbia who I really love, she’s got a fantastic voice, dark presence and an excellent melodic sense. Sometimes she gets this great sharp tone or even harder edge that kind of reminds me of Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs that I really dig (like on “Fire,” “Intoxicated” or “Upside Down”). Her vocals lift songs that are not particularly interesting musically with fantastic performances and beautiful melodies. The two aforementioned tracks are examples of this, but her verse performances on the otherwise banal-as-hell “Don’t Believe In Tomorrow” offer sprinklings of color into the drab gray of the track. Without her, this band could never, ever survive.
On the other side is the ridiculously banal and irritating Andrea Ferro who is more of a disservice to the band than anything else I can think of. His melodies and performances are totally skippable. Not only that, but he seems to get stuck with the worst of the ESL and childish lyrics and some of these get super embarrassing (“I cross the line / the walk of shame / I hear the church bells through the acid rain,” though, in his defense, Cristina has her fair share of lyrics not fit to have been written by adults). Musically, the band seems to live or die with whoever is singing over them. When Cristina is singing, I forget about them, and when Andrea is singing, I can’t stop thinking about how boring they are. What they’re doing has its moments, some cool ideas, some great hooks, but a lot of the hooks feel forced (at best) and the music is simplistic as hell.
Dark Adrenaline offers you nothing you’ve never heard from Lacuna Coil before and, honestly, it does it way less convincingly than the band’s first three records. While I recognize that we’ll never get screamy vocals back and that these guys have more success now than they ever would had they continued in that vein, I can’t help but be amazed by how a band that has become so remarkably uninteresting is still so popular! While it has its good parts and tracks like “Fire,” “Intoxicated” and “Trip the Darkness,” these moments are offset by the filler, the crappy lyrics and a ridiculously terrible cover of REM‘s classic track “Losing My Religion”. If you don’t know what you’re getting into, pass on this one. If you do, well, you’ve been warned, better than the last record but .. well, not good.