Mix of metal, smooth vocals excites

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By Corinne Love

By Corinne Love

Sometimes an album, as a piece of art, requires more than one listen to effectively hear the entire story being presented.

Fortunately, Lacuna Coil’s fourth album “Karmacode” is not one of those albums, although it is a concept album.

The concept, as suggested by the title is defined by the band as “spiritual DNA and the message behind it.”

The album is a mix of exotic rhythm and heavy metal music. Yin-yang idealism seems to be the model that Lacuna Coil emulates musically, lyrically and overall.

Lead vocalist and front woman Cristina Scabbia’s voice is evocative, fluid and haunting. In contrast, her male counterpart Andrea Ferro’s vocal deliveries are strong and provide the contrast to confidently blend both vocal tendencies smoothly throughout the album.

Lacuna Coil is not like many metal bands today. The unique blend of metal and ethereal singing has critics ranging from Entertainment Weekly to Decibel and Outburn praising the band’s successful 2002’s “Comalies.”

With four albums in its catalogue, Lacuna Coil has moved away from the stagnating term “the next big thing.” The group now has to work off its foundation of extensive and resilient hard work.

The tapestry concept in “Karmacode” is not subtle; every track feeds off of one another. Listeners can hear the elements that unite the album as a whole.

That is a rare quality in modern music. The conception of iTunes and iPods has made music a singles game – the listeners frequently skip around to the songs they like.

Picking apart “Karmacode” based on singles would prove futile as each song is single material, yet references another song on the album.

Playing with this concept of a single theme, the album’s opener “Fragile” is an explorative song that is loud and melodic, more yin-yang qualities.

Listening to “Our Truth” is at once ethereal and head banging. The blending of Scabbia and Ferro’s vocals make a firm middle ground for varying scopes of audiences.

Scabbia’s vocal deliverance is also noteworthy as well. It seems as if she uses her voice as an instrument, sometimes it stretches and sometimes it wails.

Ferro also deserves the same praise, as he defies the usual expectations of male metal singers.

Evidence of this duality can be found everywhere on “Karmacode.” Songs like “Fragile” “To the edge” “Our Truth” “You Create” and “Fragments” sound indistinguishable from the other. These tracks have a distinct, almost Middle Eastern sound.

To break this monotony, pieces like “Within Me” and “Closer” offer different musical landscapes but still have the same rhythm.

“Without Fear,” sung mostly in Italian, is a great track that showcases both Scabbia and Ferro’s vocal abilities.

Not all the tracks are heavy. Some of the slower paced songs like “In Visible Light” are slow paced but build up a to satisfying end.

The cover of Depeche Mode’s hit “Enjoy the silence” is the closing track. Fans of the original will notice Lacuna Coil’s cover does not attempt to change the song altogether.

Much of the melody remains intact. To that extent, Lacuna Coil’s version sounds more like a viable remix done with female vocals. Scabbia’s vocal range emphasizes the depths of her own band’s style.

With a following of metal fans and casual listeners alike, “Karmacode” is hardly a departure from “Comalies” but is unique and worth the listen. Chances are anyone will find something meaningful and likeable about this release. Perhaps Lacuna Coil’s unsaid mission is to lure listeners in and to decipher the code themselves.

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