Broken Crown Halo Review / Matt Wrycraft

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I’ve said before that the musical diversity of Lacuna Coil can make reviewing their albums a challenge for me.  For approaching twenty years now the band have been mixing musical styles, and challenging musical cliches.  They’ve always aimed for something new and that can have an advsere effect – specifically it can be hard to understand what musical identity Lacuna Coil are seeking to create with each album.  These thoughts were going through my mind when I sat down to listen to ‘Broken Crown Halo’ for the first time, and a number of questions quickly followed.  Is the album going to be heavy? Dark? Passionate?  How will it compare to previous albums? Will I like it? Will my fellow fans like it?

‘Dark and Heavy’. That’s how a lot of people would have summarised ‘Dark Adrenaline’ when they first listened to it.  The predecessor to ‘Broken Crown Halo’, was both of those things, and it’s fair to say that I thought it was a great album (you can read my review of here). It was modern, a 2012 Lacuna Coil, and had a great mix of songs on it.  However, I do wonder if Lacuna Coil decided that it just wasn’t dark enough and heavy enough for them though…

‘Broken Crown Halo’ takes that darkeness and heaviness to another place.  The opening bars of the first song ‘Nothing Stands In Our Way’ starts with a scream from male vocalist Andrea Ferro (yes, a scream. Something old-school fans will be familiar with!) and there’s immediately a sense of being dragged on a journey to a dark place.  Cristina’s vocals, which in the past might have softened the music, just increase the intensity and the energy.  I just wasn’t expecting it.  Don’t worry, they always start with something heavy, I’m sure that- oh wait ‘Zombies’ starts.

Zombies, like the song’s namesake, sends me a clear message; nowhere is safe, it (they?) will keep coming.  Just relentless in it’s intensity. It’s heavy, dark, and brimming with energy and with more growling from Andrea and I love the guitar solo.  The lyrics aren’t about the walking dead, they are about all of us; our identity and place in the 21st century. It’s a theme that Lacuna Coil use throughout music and lyrics in the the album. ‘Zombies’ is such a strong song and has to be one of my favourite Lacuna Coil tracks from, well, ever.  

I need a breather, and ‘Hostage To the Light’, offers it, albeit only up to the chorus.  The song is so beautifully crafted that it reminded  me of Comalies, and yet builds on that album and all those that came after it. ‘Hostage To The Light’ has a certain majesty about it, as well as sense of hope, and I’m sure it will quickly become a favourite amongst fans.

See?  Broken Crown Halo, isn’t that dark is it?  I’m feeling a little safer now; almost comfortable in fact.  That is until ‘Victims’ starts.  Opening with a great guitar melody, and Cristina’s vocals, Andrea sings a chorus about the ‘Victims’, about us.  It’s a dark message about who we are in society today; almost an anthem of our times, questioning our identity in this 21st Century World we’ve made.  That’s the Broken Crown Halo.  It’s a theme so strong as it resonates through every song on the album and provides a cohesion that really adds to the richness of what we’re hearing.  There is anger here and a sense of rebellion that we’ve not heard from Lacuna Coil before, Previous albums had their share of emotion of course, but in Broken Crown Halo that emotion feels raw and naked. Listening to the album one can’t help but wonder what the band have personally gone through during the writing and recording processes. 

It’s not over yet, not even close, we’re only four songs in.  ‘Die and Rise’ follows and ‘I Forgive (But I won’t forget your name)’ comes after that, both take us through very different journeys.  The former, a fast paced heavy rock number reminds me of a gothic Karmacode; the latter, an impassioned heavy rock ballad, has a direct and confrontational message in it.

Next comes ‘Cybersleep’ and I wasn’t prepared for it, I had no idea what to expect from the name.  What I got was Lacuna Coil that their most dramatic, and most epic.  This is a song arguably unlike anything they’ve ever made before and is quite stunning in delivery. The band have said they wanted to make a sound-track, and nowhere is it more evident than in this track; Cristina’s voice soars and the guitars are immense,Cybersleep feels like a song that’s not just sung, it’s performed, and I hope that Lacuna Coil release a video for this great song.

‘Infection’ is a pure rock track that, like the rest of the album, has a darkness about it, I can well imagine this being a popular live song. ‘I Burn In You’ reminds me a mix of ‘Unleashed Memories’ and ‘Dark Adrenaline’ – that’s not a complaint, I think it’s has great single potential.  ‘In The End I Feel Alive’ is dark and futuristic, filled  with layered keyboards and bass.

The final song, ‘One Cold Day’, takes us back to the days of ‘In A Reverie’ and ‘Unleashed Memories’ once again.  It’s a beautiful ballad, slow and melodic, and showcases Cristina’s vocals wonderfully.  Much like ‘My Spirit’ which closes the previous album, the song is powerful and heart-felt in it’s message.  One does not get a sense that ‘Broken Crown Halo’ is going to finish on a happy note, but then, it probably was never going to.

‘Broken Crown Halo’ is the band’s darkest trip yet. There’s something on this album for every fan to connect with and love.  There’s also things that we’ve not heard before, and probably weren’t expecting from Lacuna Coil – though it’s always hard to know what to expect from the band.  ‘Broken Crown Halo’ is not a ‘metal’ album, it’s not a ‘rock’ album, it’s a pure ‘Lacuna Coil’ album, and once again they have managed to take their music to a new place. This is Lacuna Coil at their darkest, heaviest, and angriest, it builds on ‘Dark Adrenaline’ perfectly, and is as confident in it’s own identity as it’s message is telling us that perhaps we shouldn’t be.

Matt