If you mention metal from Italy, LACUNA COIL is one of the first names that pops into mind. While we are huge fans of their earlier works, from 2001’s “In a Reverie” up until – and surprisingly to some, still including – 2009’s “Spellbound.” However, the two albums to follow didn’t really leave any sort of impression on us, though “Delirium“ from 2016 was certainly a step up. Always hoping for the best, when “Black Anima” was announced, we knew we had to listen to it.
The intro, “Anima Nera,” is alluring and ambient, and Cristina Scabbia‘s voice is slightly creepy, sounding almost as if she’s doing a child’s voice, or at least a younger voice, until the creepy repeating of “anima” takes over. It’s hard to say if there’s an effect on the vocals or if it’s just meant to sound a certain way.
The transition between the intro and “Sword of Anger” is strangely jarring, as the former does not flow into the latter and has an entirely different pace and emotional feeling. That said, the song is actually quite good and as mentioned in the review of their last album, Andrea Ferro‘s growls have been getting better over the years and this remains true this time around. “Reckless” has some very traditional vocals by Scabbia and the bass sound that’s been present lately that is really quite enjoyable. Scabbia also gets creative with the vocals in the chorus, which is always nice.
“Layers of Time” was the first single and music video released from “Black Anima” and it brings to light the aforementioned “LACUNA COIL” bass sound that has come to be associated with Marco Coti Zelato and remains fresh throughout the album.
Things slow down a bit with “Apocalypse” – not quite a ballad, but a bit of a break from the heavier and faster pace. It maintains the passion and power throughout the chorus, and would definitely work nicely as a break-between-the-action during a live show. “Now or Never” has some very different effects on the vocals about two thirds of the way through and “Under the Surface” takes another turn for the delightfully heavy, though “Veneficium” evens out the sound again into a more mellow, groovy feel (though the rhythms are still heavy enough to satisfy) and is perhaps a bit on the longish side – over 6 minutes – for what it needs to be.
“The End is All I Can See” starts with a bit of a mysterious lure, though it seems like this song might be a bit easier to get into with the lyrics as it otherwise didn’t leave much of an impression. “Save Me” has a rather catchy melody and good movement in the drums and a pretty strong chorus. The album ends with the title track, which includes some really interesting… I want to say keyboard sounds, but it sounds like a creepy child’s toy or something like that. It’s a fairly dramatic and powerful track and a pretty good one to close the album out with.
I suspect that if you liked “Delirium“ and it’s sound/style, you’ll also really enjoy “Black Anima.” The heaviness of the previous album has remained and they’re clearly still toying around with their sound, exploring different areas of metal like djent and electronica to see what it can add to their music. If you’re the type of listener who wants more melodic hooks, this album might not catch you on the first couple of listens, but there’s a lot going on that’s worth digging into the layers. I personally find the newer material a bit less accessible than their older stuff, but as mentioned, if you’ve been happy with their last few albums, it’s hard to imagine that you wouldn’t like this one as well!
Written by Bear Wiseman
- Anima Nera
- Sword of Anger
- Layers of Time
- Now or Never
- Under the Surface
- The End is All I Can See
- Save Me
- Black Anima
Cristina Scabbia – vocals
Andrea Ferro – vocals
Marco Coti Zelato – bass, guitars
Ryan Blake Folden – drums
Century Media Records
Interview with Scar of the Sun — “I was angry, I was really angry, and that’s why my vocals came out like that.”