Music Review: Lacuna Coil, "Comalies"
by Tony Pascarella
Published: August 23, 2004
Italian gothic metal band Lacuna Coil (meaning: "Empty Spiral") has been releasing music since 1997. They released their self-titled EP in '97, with their first LP in 1999, called In A Reverie. An EP entitled Half Life followed in 2000. 2001 brought Unleashed Memories. In 2002, they released their third full-length album, Comalies
Let me first explain what you'll get with the limited edition. Not one, but two CD's. The first CD is the album Comalies in its entirety. The second CD is a collection of radiomixes, studio acoustics, and live radio acoustics for each song on the album. The band touches on many different types of music throughout the album. They can be compared in places to Evanescence, Godsmack, and many death and gothic metal acts.
Lacuna Coil Is:
Cristina Scabbia (Female Lead Vocals)
Andrea Ferro (Male Lead Vocals)
Cristiano Migliore (Guitar)
Marco Biazzi (Guitar)
Cristiano Mozzati (Drums)
Marco Coti Zelati (Bass)
Gripping power chords kick off Swamped. Scabbia's ethereal vocals linger in the background, while the guitars just overpower the listener. The drumming is solid, but nothing outdoes Cristiano Migliore and Marco Biazzi's guitars. One of Lacuna Coil's more popular songs, Heaven's A Lie is next. If you like Evanescence, you'll really dig this song. It's heavier than the Arkansas quartet, but you're comparing goth metal to alternative rock. Scabbia's vocals are both filled with meaning and done beautifully. Ferro's vocals, which appear mostly in the chorus add to the mystique of the song. By far, this is one of their best.
Daylight Dancer starts with a spooky, synthesized sound. Ferro's voice then carries over some drumming and the synthesizer. When the guitars kick in, this song gets going. Scabbia provides backing vocals, but this is more of a duet than anything. Shimmering accompaniment gives these two a dark and heavy sound. Synthesized beats begin Humane, with Scabbia harmonizing in the background. With a nice slow rhythm established, Ferro begins to sing. His voice is both powerful and essential to the song. Cristina provides an equally moving vocal number. The voices are what really give this song a gothic feel. Excellent synthesization backs them up.
On Self Deception, the guitars are driving and heavy. Both Ferro and Scabbia sing excellently. His vocals have an angry sound to them, which fits snugly with the wailing guitars.
The acoustic-sounding Aeon is just Scabbia singing, backed by guitars that aren't plugged in. It only weighs in at 1:56, so there's not much to say. Tight Rope is driven by a harsher sound. The lyrics and vocals sound almost sarcastic, and the heavy guitars really infuse a heavy metal beat into the song. The Ghost Woman And The Hunter is a spooky song that really gets that mood from Scabbia's excellent melodies. Forget about the guitars here. It's all her.
Synthesized with a catchy guitar beat, Unspoken will draw a lot of comparisons to Evanescence here. There's almost a techno sound going on, and Scabbia shows off her vocal range here. Entwined is an emotion-driven track that has a nice backing corps of drums and guitar. As usual, the melodies are superb.
The Prophet Said is a definite goth metal track. Luckily, there's not any screaming. Ferro is easy to understand, as is Cristina. This track almost reminds me a little of Godsmack because of its heavy sound and fast pace. Angel's Punishment is a dark tale of war and destruction. Cristina really drives this song. The chorus has a thrashing sound to it, making one of their harshest and best songs as of yet. Comalies, the title track, starts off slow, and evolves to some painstaking guitar cords. Cristina Scabbia begins the song by singing in Italian. It's so beautiful, even though I have no idea what she's saying. She then switches to English, and it sounds just as great. She really doesn't need backing instruments; her voice is enough.
Now, as far as the bonus material, let me say this. It's repetitive. I'm only going to discuss one instance of the track, no matter how many times it appears.
Heaven's A Lie appears as a radio edit, which has much of the intro and outro cut down, so as to make it radio-friendly. It also appears as studio and live acoustics. The live acoustic sounds fresher, and as acoustic tends to do, it really highlights Cristina's beautiful melodies. I'd actually say I like this better than the album cut of it. Swamped is a radio edit and a studio acoustic. As an acoustic, this song loses the edge that the album version had. The album cut had absolutely crushing guitars. But, there is a caveat. Ferro's voice is amazing backing up Cristina. You really don't hear the extent of that on the album version.
Senzafine, which is off one of their prior albums, appears as a studio and live acoustic. The studio version is well-done. They sing completely in Italian, which gives them a charming allure--probably because for all most of us know, they could be telling their listeners to go to hell. It's a very good song, and the acoustic guitars don't detract from the beautiful duet. Unspoken appears as a studio acoustic only. This was one of the tracks I said would get a comparison to Evanescence. With the acoustic, they lose the crushing guitar chords and synthesizer. It sounds completely different and just as great. Aeon appears as a live radio acoustic. It has a more twangy sound than before, almost to the point of being irritating. However, Cristina's voice just chills you to the bone.
I don't know if I can say a bad thing about this band. The never get old, even if they use the same themes, because they find new ways to put them out as fresh material. Both guitar players are first-rate. Cristina Scabbia and Andrea Ferro are probably the best male/female vocal combination I've ever heard. They complement each other's strengths. The only thing on this album that is weak in spots is the drumming and bass. But that's only because of the excellence of their singers and guitarists.
I highly recommend this album to anyone who is a fan of bands such as Evanescence or gothic metal. There's something for everyone here, and this is a great rainy day album. Comalies and the bonus track Senzafine are great because the Italian lyrics are put so delicately in the songs. I have absolutely no qualms about awarding this album a 5-star rating.
Overall Grade: A+