“Black Anima is all of us. It’s you and it’s me. It’s everything we hide and fiercely expose to a world that is half asleep. It is the fogged mirror we are peering into and searching for the truth. It’s the sacrifice and pain. It’s justice and fear. It’s fury and revenge. It’s past and future. Human beings and the magnificence of disturbing ambiguity. The black core that balances it all. Without darkness, the light would never exist.” – LACUNA COIL
It’s been three years since the Milan, Italy-based band Lacuna Coil introduced us to the world of Delirium. Their ninth studio album Black Anima was released on October 11th through their label Century Media Records. The evolution of Lacuna Coil both as a band and on a personal level has become abundantly luminous in this record, and perhaps the publishing of their book Nothing Stands In Our Way last November and the 20th anniversary of their debut album In A Reverie have inspired an even deeper level of songwriting and limitless boundaries on which Cristina Scabbia (vocals), Andrea Ferro (vocals), Marco Coti Zelati (bass, keyboards), Diego “DiDi” Cavallotti (guitar) and Richard Meiz (drums) have manifested with Black Anima. We were promised their heaviest record to date with Black Anima, and Lacuna Coil has delivered in a massive way.
Black Anima begins with a dark industrial-influenced prologue called Anima Nerva meaning “Black Soul” which features haunting piano chords and eerie vocals by Cristina Scabbia and disturbing truths about the way we may look at ourselves through the mirror of our darkest times. The lyrics hit right through to the core of your soul as Scabbia shares the likeness of suffocating in memories in order to have a colder heart that only thinks but doesn’t feel.. Surrounded by darkness with a fading glimpse of light in which hope begins to fade further in regret and lost hope. Swords of Anger strikes hard and fast with Andrea Ferro’s opening scream “we are the anima” and plays off Scabbia’s melodic, power charged tone into a juxtaposition of harmonies and memorable chorus, a recurrence through the rest of the album. Ferro shines in this track and his screamo vocals have exceedingly improved even more since their 2016 Delirium album.
Reckless and Layers of Time have both released as singles, and have already proven to be fan favorites. The remainder of Black Anima keeps up in all the key components, and there is no denying that the dynamics between Scabbia and Ferro vocally play off each other on a masterful level. The heaviness that Cavallotti, Zeloti, and Meiz contribute spark an added fire to the enticing melodies. While Reckless suggests being wild and inviting dangers of damaging behavior, Layers of Time is seemingly the turning point in the story of Black Anima as it introduces hope that time heals all wounds. Apocalypse is a softer part of the record while still pummeling through a collection of emotions and maintaining the darker, heavier tone of the record. Now or Never originates with a symphony through to a thrashing guitar riff sure to send audiences into one hell of a mosh pit. While Scabbia and Ferro tend to dominate all of Lacuna Coil’s songs, Cavallotti’s colossal guitar riffs and Meiz’s quick tempo guitar fire on all cylinders. Not to be outdone, Under The Surface goes even further beyond that with an erratic start. Lacuna Coil’s musical chemistry finally feels equal and if this is a peek at what is to come, they will only become tighter and more in sync. The gothic-themed operatic intro to Veneficium (Latin for poisonous, magical) pushes even more limits for singer Scabbia vocally and is the height of the ongoing internal struggle between being pulled further into the dark or to rise into the light. The balance of Ferro’s softer screaming vocals and Cristina’s higher notes are a real treat to the ear. The End Is All I Can See has a spooky groove and haunting moments and while it is most likely not going to be remembered as one of the better tracks, it is still untouchable in its own right.
Save Me, which was the last track released as a single from the album is a scream for help and admission that the darkness is nearing its final stages. Scabbia speaks intimately about what remains in the shadows of her past. Unable to recognize the person looking back in the mirror and feeling a loss of dreams and hope and the realization that while she can’t turn back time, she doesn’t want to give up and will not give up. The dramatic piano intro for Black Anima (Epilogue) is reminiscent of I Burn In You and One Cold Day from their Broken Crown Halo album thrown into a fire of suspenseful guitar chords. It is the perfect climactic conclusion to Black Anima and possesses a significant strength from pulling oneself out of the darkness into the light that both Scabbia and Ferro exhibit through compelling, raw, emotional vocals.
Lacuna Coil has never veered away from their signature sound, but the added heaviness and accelerated level of vocals that both Scabbia and Ferro have developed along with the masterful musical talents of Cavallotti, Meiz, and Zelati showcase a striking parallel of artistry far beyond expectations. Together, Lacuna Coil finishes the strongest they ever have. Black Anima is solid proof that Lacuna Coil fears nothing.