Lacuna Coil - Karmacode
Beforehand, the chances were rather optimistic that I would really like this product. First of all, is it a goth metal band we're dealing with? Of course. With a fair lady at the microphone? That's right. And on top of this, do they present a cover of one of the greatest songs of all time? You know it! Great expectations about Lacuna Coil's 4th album, accordingly.
These six Italians got their big break with their previous record Comalies, especially in America, which gave them a prominent position at the Ozzfest tour two years ago. Karmacode develops on Comalies' sound; the recipe is still gothic metal, adornmented with Oriental influences. The band's biggest star is as usual the lovely vocalist Cristina Scabbia, who surely must have fronted more magazine-covers than any other woman in the metal-world by now. In fact, she has become such a celebrity that her duet partner Andrea Ferro now has been practically reduced to a background singer. This doesn't concern me that much since he was never that fun to begin with, something he has probably realized himself over the years.
One reason why I don't enjoy Karmacode as much as I should is the production. Very professional surely, but also rather muddy which doesn't help the nuances to shine through. Comalies hinted that the band was moving steady towards nu metal-territory, and this release is another step closer to the goal. Songs like To The Edge and What I See is almost Korn-ish, and I'm not entirely sure that this is the right path for Lacuna Coil to take. That a band member expressed himself in an interview that this is the sound they have always strived for makes it even more depressing.
The biggest disappointment is that the material is so indifferent. It all starts very well with Fragile, a perfect opener with a very strong melody. Even better is the ballad Within Me, which ironically is the track that Ferro does the most singing on. But generally most of the songs are just okay, hardly anything outstanding. Even the single Our Truth is merely so-so, and definitly not a match against for example Heaven Is A Lie.
Most of the songs are on the same mediocre level, and two of them (In Visible Light and The Game) are downright lousy. But fortunatly Lacuna Coil manages to salvage the overall impression in the 11th hour, partly thanks to Without Fear which is sung entirely in Italian and is a return to the band's older sound. Then we have the cover song of Depeche Mode's timeless classic Enjoy The Silence, which works really well with Scabbias voice. Their interpretation is hardly spectacular, but still strong enough to kick the rest of the material's ass. And besides, if this means that one or two metal-kidz will discover a fantastic group like Depeche Mode, the cover has my full approval.
Now that the band have reached stardom after a few years
of working in the shadows, it seems that the mysticism that once made
them unique have got lost on the way. Karmacode is a solid album, but
you'd be wiser to pick up their 2001-release Unleashed Memories instead,
from the time that Lacuna Coil really mattered something to the scene.