Lacuna Coil

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Karmacode Review

by Cammila Collar

Many fans of prog metal would like to believe that once upon a time, the dramatic mood and operatic self-importance that define the genre came as a natural result of the music's compositional influences, and only recently has the over-the-top tone taken priority over musical quality. Whether or not such a magical time ever really existed, Lacuna Coil hearkens back to those possibly imaginary days with their 2006 release Karmacode. The Italian sextet's songwriting and instrumentation directly reflect the original naming of metal as a separate mineral from rock & roll, with a seamless blend of classical music and modern rock. As a result, the disc seems refreshingly self-possessed. The band doesn't intentionally shy away from the stylistic qualifiers that have come to exemplify progressive metal, it just allows the theatrical elements to emerge on their own. The album's goth voice, for instance, is readily apparent without desperate or forced attempts at spooky compositions, because it shines through in truly inspired melodies that just happen to be ethereal, exotic, and chilling. Likewise, Karmacode achieves communion with its power metal roots in songs written in an epic fashion, from the bottom up rather than through lyrics about dragons and elves. Karmacode seems immune to even the gloomier and more widespread trappings of metal, expressing emotion in ways that sound almost freakishly earnest and genuine. In addition to all of this potentially boring integrity, the disc is highly listenable. Though obviously unconcerned with finding a place in the mainstream, this release just as cool and catchy as anything by Evanescence, a band who took the causal switch between tone and musicality one step further, creating a pop version of an already diluted brand of metal. At least some generous chunk of the record's compelling nature can be attributed to singer Cristina Scabbia's enthralling timbre -- her reverberating call over the repeating choruses toward the end of the group's "Enjoy the Silence" cover makes this disc worth the price of purchase. The frontwoman was born with a strong, unique voice and would probably create bizarrely charismatic renditions of show tunes if that was her chosen art. Lucky for prog fans, her interests lie far from Broadway and with a style to which she brings dexterous technical skill, as well as a refreshing delivery. Despite Scabbia's attention-grabbing sound and stage presence, the album still has each bandmember to thank for its success, not to mention producer Waldemar Sorychta; they have done their jobs so deftly that one could easily opt out of paying attention to the sophisticated and complex nature of their creation and just enjoy the ride.

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