‘Black Anima’ opens with ‘Anima Nera’, a loop of 2 plus minutes of atmospheric, symphonic, mesmerising melody, accompanied by the angelic tones of Cristina Scabbia, a beautiful start to the latest creation from the Italian behemoths, Lacuna Coil.

‘Sword Of Anger’ pounds in with dirty demonic guttural growls before Andrea Ferro and Cristina Scabbia intertwine majestically atop of technical and layered lines. Both the six string and four string segments are classical and technical in equal parts. The drums aren’t overly prominent, yet they provide the backbone for the rest of the band to build on. Ferro is the lead on the vocals and initiates the track before Scabbia somehow seems to drag herself to the forefront and the 2 battle for supremacy, yet in a way in which the duel seems more like a mating ritual than anything more sinister.

‘Reckless’ sees a more ‘chugging’ effort. The strings of Marco Cote Zelati and the new drummer Richard Meiz keep the track upbeat and there is an air of repeated harmony and dysfunction to the proceedings, although this is achieved in an endearing way to say the least. The track is probably the furthest removed from the usual efforts seen by this cohort, but it is a direction which seems to suit the goth masters well and I can see it becoming a regular on many a moshers playlist.

‘Layers Of Time’ starts with a building intro and ends in a crescendo which carves you open to the synthesised world below. Andrea can be heard unleashing a haunting scream before he brings a punchy edge to the vocals which marry to the marching and beating acoustics sitting behind him. Cristina adds the beauty element to the party and is the main muscle behind the choruses, switching styles effortlessly to suit the soundtrack she is layering upon.

‘Apocalypse’ starts out as an epic venture before they settle back into the tried and tested mode that we all love Lacuna Coil for. This is pretty much replicated on several album siblings and each track only veers slightly from the predicted path. ‘Apocalypse’ sees a slightly stripped-down musical score and allows the vocals to shine, almost naked in times with very little acoustics to hide behind.

‘Now Or Never’ opens with a piece reminiscent of something from a classical opera before guttural growls once again raise their head, which in turn brings the heaviness with the guitars and drums generating a uber heavy nu metal esque style to the track. The beauty and the beast style of vocals are once again flaunted on top of the smooth and complex harmony. There are flashes of thrash and hardcore injected intermittently before the track is reeled back into the crunching, ironized and traditional Lacuna style.

‘Under The Surface’ is pulsating and powerful. The heaviness is once again exhibited. This is a beast of a track and it only dissects with vocals which are the cleanest of all the album. Scabbia shows just why she is revered as one of the most respected vocalists and truly at the pinnacle of her career with this effort. As always Andrea isn’t far from her side and certainly makes an impression with his efforts which bring a delicate brutality to the show.

‘Veneficium’ sees an operatic opening facet before the crunching and machine gun staccato of the guitar chords take up their position for battle once more. Meiz is a beast on this track and pulsates throughout the whole track, providing a titanium back bone on which the rest of the band seem happy to feast off. Scabbia is as always elegant in her addition and the whole track is a platform for each component of the juggernaut to parade their wares

‘The End Is All I Can See’ and Save Me’ are very much brothers in arms. Their portrayal of the magnificence that the album has been building thus far is packaged up in these 2 tracks and they have it all. ‘Save Me’ exhibits spoken word and a true sense of grandeur. Both tracks are slick in the execution and they are robust and rounded giving a sense of an established smooth ale rather than questionable home brew.
The title track bolsters the album and ends the journey with a prominent crushing soul. Each of the vocal duo seem to be pushing themselves further than they have on the previous tracks on this beast. The composition is measured yet captivating. The whole track is rounded and well-constructed with no element being more prominent than the next, this all in then generates a magnificent creature to which to end the voyage on. The finale is tied up in just over 3 minutes and serves as a reminder as to why Lacuna Coil sit upon the summit of their genre and even infiltrate other genres at times.

This is an absolute brute of an album, a handsome ogre dressed in a freshly pressed tuxedo, an uncut diamond and any other euphemism you can think of to describe an absolutely beautiful success.

(9/10 Phil Pountney)