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Lacuna Coil - Karmacode (Century Media Records)

By: Justin Donnelly

It’s strange to think that as little as four years ago, many anticipated that with the release of their third album Comalies in 2002, Italian (Milan based) progressive gothic metal act Lacuna Coil were destined to be the next big thing.

And while it took a full two years for the album to fully deliver on its potential, it eventually did in a major way (Going on to sell over half a million copies), thus thrusting the band from their cult like status and into the big league.

Since then, the five piece act (Consisting of vocalists Cristina Scabbia and Andrea Ferro, guitarists Cristiano Migliore and Marco Biazzi, bassist/keyboardist Marco Coti Zelati and drummer Cristiano Mozzati) have toured relentlessly both in Europe and in the U.S. over the last four years capitalising on their newfound success, before finally heading into the studio once more for their eagerly anticipated fourth full length album.

Once again utilising the services of long time producer Waldemar Sorychta (Sentenced, Samael, Tiamat), Lacuna Coil have again pushed their sound forward on Karmacode to incorporate the experiences and influences the band have collected over the last four years, without losing the original essence that was essentially unique to the band in the first place.

From the moment the opening track ‘Fragile’ begins, it’s immediately clear that Lacuna Coil aren’t about to revisited Comalies for a second time around. The core of the band’s sound is still present (Scabbia’s sultry Eastern tinged vocal presence combined with Ferro’s much improved throaty efforts, the subtle keyboard backing and the stirring chorus melodies), but it’s the generous bass heavy production (Giving the song a huge groove) and the subtle use of strings that amplify Lacuna Coil’s quest to find the right mix of both European and U.S. influences in their sound.

The riff heavy ‘To The Edge’ is a definite favourite with faster pacing and Ferro’s aggressive choral vocal lines, while the lead off single ‘Our Truth’ (Which originally appeared on the Underworld: Evolution soundtrack) is as impressive, if only a touch more melodic and traditional Lacuna Coil sounding.

Ferro for the most part takes centre stage for the slower and denser ‘Devoted’ and ‘Fragments Of Faith’, but it’s with tracks like ‘What I See’ (Which is preceded by the short Eastern influenced passage ‘You Create’) and ‘The Game’ that the band really highlights the big thick U.S. influenced production sound (Almost Sevendust like in places) that separates ‘Karmacode’ from 2002’s Comalies.

On the ballad/slower side of things, Lacuna Coil have always excelled in the past, and little changes here as the acoustic/string based ‘Within Me’, the haunting ‘In Visible Light’ and the gentle ‘Without Fear’ (Where Scabbia sings in her native Italian) all highlights of the album in their own rights.

But for all the strengths that Karmacode exudes, it does have a couple of moments that don’t quite work. The first is the over use of keyboards in ‘Closer’, which only cheapens the effect the song could have had if it had a greater guitar presence. The other is the cover of Depeche Mode’s ‘Enjoy The Silence’. Although it’s a great reinterpretation of the song (Which originally appeared on 1990’s Violator), it seems a little tacked on after the album reaches its natural conclusion with ‘Without Fear’. The only other flaw evident is the sometimes overtly bass heavy production work of Sorychta, which at times drowns out the guitars too much at times.

Putting the minor faults aside, Lacuna Coil don’t disappoint with their hugely anticipated follow up to Comalies. Sure, some fans will be put off by the sound the band have aimed for on Karmacode, but underneath the modern production sheen, it’s still the same diverse, unclassifiable and unique Lacuna Coil that won fans over in the first place.

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