Before Evanescence made it cool to be a rock band with a female lead singer, Lacuna Coil had already polished the sound with five solid releases. Too few people knew of the band, but that would soon change. With intelligent and aggressive touring, a strong work ethic, and stellar musicianship and song-writing, 2004 saw them joining the big leagues of metal. The band was invited to join Ozzfest, and won over the concert goers with their own brand of haunting, ethereal music.
Karmacode is the band’s latest offering, and what an offering it is. From the very beginning, the album catches the listener. Thunderous bass, middle eastern melodies on the guitars, and Cristina Scabbia’s supernal voice set the stage for the experience. Certainly not a reinvention, Karmacode serves as a subtle evolution of the sound the band has been perfecting over the course of their career.
The trademark dual voice work of Scabbia and Andrea Ferro really shines on the album. With interesting harmonies, multi-layered vocals, and well-done duet passages, there is an increased use of the vocals as additional instruments, and to great effect. The vocal lines are infectious and memorable, but also have significant depth to them, allowing the listener to easily hum along while still appreciating the subtle nuances found if you make the effort to listen.
Instrumentally, the album rocks. Period. The bass is very prominent (perhaps a tad too prominent), and will shake your windows if you give the album the chance. The guitars are both fierce and tranquil, at all the right moments. The music is often brooding, fitting with the “gothic” label given the band. However, a closer listen reveals hidden moments of hope and levity that keep the album from ever feeling ponderous. And it is the subtle stylistic approach that keeps the album from ever feeling old. The band doesn’t tread too much ground in terms of musical style, but what they do, they do very well. The more ballad-esque songs don’t work quite as well as the rockers, as they feel a bit too restrained, but they are in the minority.
Tracks to catch: “Fragile” is a monster of an opener, and kicks the record off right. This is one of my favorite tracks. “Our Truth”, the first single, is also an imminently listenable tune that is sure to be a hit. “Without Fear” serves as an excellent, cathartic closer to the album (as it is the last song written by the band on the disc). Finally, “Enjoy the Silence” is a cover of a Depeche Mode song that sounds great with Cristina’s vocals and the punch that Lacuna Coil brings to the track.
Karmacode doesn’t break new ground, but it does take a few steps down the logical path the band has been blazing for years now. Lacuna Coil is a band that deserves more attention, and I am pleased to see them getting it (touring again with Ozzfest this year). Karmacode is a solid release, with fine musicianship, great song-writing, and subtle nuances that keep the album interesting from start to finish. If you are looking for a challenging listening experience, this isn’t the album for you. However, if you want great, listenable and brooding metal, you can’t go wrong with this latest offering from Lacuna Coil.