Review of Lacuna Coil’s ‘Black Anima’ by Jade

Review by Jade | October 16, 2019

POWERHOUSE. There is no other word to describe BLACK ANIMA, the ninth studio album by Italian metal group LACUNA COIL. Over twenty year in the scene has led them to what is arguably the strongest album in their career. Musically, lyrically, vocally, BLACK ANIMA delivers the sound that old school Coilers have been waiting for since Comalies. But does this album compare to Comalies? Not in the least, and they show us that it’s perfectly okay.

ANIMA NERA

I LIKE TO SUFFOCATE IN ALL MY MEMORIES UNTIL I CANNOT BREATHE

Black Anima’s prologue consists of vocals from Cristina Scabbia like we’ve never heard. Whether it be computer effects or her ability to change her voice into something even more unique than it already is, it doesn’t matter; she proves once again how far her vocal abilities have stretched over the years. Anima Nera speaks of the heavy darkness within – a short song of resignation to the empty emotions that frequently follow trauma or intense pain. In a way, this album follows the ‘backwards’ pattern – Anima Nera could have been the Outro and Black Anima could have been the prologue. And, of course, we get a taste of the Italian we’ve been so hoping to hear since Broken Crown Halo.

COSA NE RIMANE DELLA MIA ANIMA NERA?

SWORD OF ANGER

WE ARE THE ANIMA

Sword of Anger opens full swing with the growling vocals of Andrea Ferro. An enthusiastic mix of all instruments make this song a blazing follow up to Anima Nera. Lyrically, we feel the power of Andrea’s delivered verses, believing damn well that they’ve never lost their way and taking Cristina’s word when she says there’s more to them than we will ever see. Maki and Diego absolutely kill it on bass and guitar. There is no question that Diego really got to shine on this album, and even less question that Maki wrote this song with passion and a desire to try something new. 

WE DON’T HEED YOU – THE SWORD OF ANGER WILL CUT IN THE DEEP

Newcomer Richard Meiz, now drummer of the band, gets a chance to show off his skills in Sword of Anger as well. He doesn’t introduce himself in small doses. With Lacuna Coil, when you’re new, you come out swinging, and the drums in this song do exactly that.

One of the main highlights: Cristina singing underneath Andrea’s growls, the two contrasting vocals blending beautifully to make a melodic tune to match the heaviness.

BEYOND THE SURFACE WE DIG IN THE DEEP – THERE’S MORE TO US THAN YOU WILL EVER SEE

RECKLESS

TO HELL WITH ALL THE INNOCENCE

Reckless is the second single released before Black Anima takes the world by storm. Cristina shines brightly in this one, controlling most of the song with the occasional background growl by Andrea, and showing listeners once more just how far her vocal abilities have come. Reckless is the dance track of the album – heavy and single-worthy, yet still dark and fitting for the overall atmosphere of the album. 

I HAVE NEVER LEARNED TO COMPROMISE – I NEED TO FEEL ALIVE

Synths and guitars tear up the track in the best way, the bass and drums filling in the space nicely. The guitar solo is one major highlight – Diego has absolutely been a great addition to the band since he joined.

KEEP THE MADNESS ENDLESS

LAYERS OF TIME 

I LIVE THE LIFE I LEFT BEHIND

Layers of Time was the first single introduced to us to represent Black Anima. Even though it’s the fourth song on the album, it was the first song we got to hear as a collective group of Coilers, and the song is explosive. Andrea once again comes out with growls and aggressive vocals, taking the lead in this song with more vocal time than Cristina while still allowing both to shine. 

I THINK I’VE LOST THE STORYLINE

Guitars and bass in Layers of Time roar into existence here and don’t back down. There is no such thing as a breather. This lends in a perfect way to the lyrical meaning of the song, an overall meaning conveying, in their own words: Our road is paved with pain, the past we can’t rewind. Layers of Time was the perfect introduction to Black Anima, and nestles itself as the fourth track to remind us that it isn’t the only song on the album.

TWISTING, TURNING, THROUGH THE BAPTISM OF FIRE

APOCALYPSE

WHILE YOU PRAY, WE DON’T CARE

Apocalypse flows with more melodic emotion than the songs prior, still heavy but allowing us a short break from Andrea’s growls and allowing us a glimpse of his cleaner vocals. We have a more gothic feel here, darkness coating the tone and bringing a strong lyrical message. Apocalypse is, without a doubt, one of the most impactful songs of the album lyrically. We can feel the pain and emotion in Cristina’s voice as she delivers her pieces, and we truly feel for her. We relate, and we feel.

WE START A REVOLUTION AND CELEBRATE YOUR LIES

Most surprisingly, soaring vocals blend well with the bass tracks here. Maki (bass) has arranged this to ensure the bass beats the message behind Cristina’s vocals home. An impressive use of instrumental, without a doubt. 

YOU’RE FAR FROM ABSOLUTION

NOW OR NEVER

I MADE MY WAY BACK TO THE LIVING WHEN I WAS ALREADY DEAD

In Now or Never, we’re swept back into the fast, aggressive beats of guitars and drums and Andrea’s forceful vocals. Bold riffs and messages give a nod to Delirium but still sits very comfortably on Black Anima. 

Taking a step away from ‘professional reviewer’ stance and slipping into hardcore Coiler mode: this is the song that Cristina Scabbia comes very close to growling in. Forceful, almost shouted vocals in one verse suddenly highlight her in a different view, and every Cristina-diehard is going to have their moment of squealing or their moment of confusion and hoping that doesn’t happen again. The force lends to the song in a perfect way, however, and just a little more of a push would have shown us a first from Miss Scabbia.

THERE’S NO MERCY FOR THE INNOCENT

UNDER THE SURFACE

ALL YOUR SENSES ARE COMPELLED TO LIE

Cristina leads this song once again, a solid track to sit at the almost-halfway point of the album. More fascinating synths lead into powerful guitars, leading into Andrea kicking off the vocals with passion. Under the Surface is definitely the most lyrically heavy of the album, not necessarily in emotion or message, but in the sheer amount of singing that goes on through the track lasting just over four minutes. 

EVERYTHING FEELS PERFECT WHEN YOU’RE SPINNING LIES

This song takes hold and doesn’t let go. From start to finish, a musical storm, no break. One of the most powerful songs in terms of instruments without a doubt. 

ILLUSIONS AND EMOTIONS ARE FOR SALE

VENEFICIUM

NOVA VIS AD DIEM NOVUM NASCITUR

Musically, Veneficium is the most powerful song on the album. A blend of heavy guitar and bass riffs mixed with the kind of emotional blast we got from Apocalypse, Veneficium blows it out of the water as one of the best songs on the album. The piece experiments with symphonic metal and use of the Latin language, and takes listeners on a dark journey through the entire process.

HERE I COME TO SHOW YOU ALL THE WOUNDS INSIDE MY HEART

Andrea shows off his clean vocals in Veneficium, proving he can still sing just as much as he can growl. The lyrics are powerful and moving. Overall, a strong track that stands up and shouts, “I’M HERE AND I’M AMAZING!”

I’M AFRAID TO SEE WHAT I BECAME – I KNOW THAT IT WILL NEVER BE THE SAME

THE END IS ALL I CAN SEE

THE PAIN IS ALMOST LIKE SALVATION

Tension rises slowly in The End is All I Can See, but it is, admittedly, the weakest track on the album. The lyrics are strong and the music is haunting, but it drones as opposed to putting up the fight the rest of the album does. It still takes a stand and earns a place on the album. Why? Because with just a little more effort, it could have been a blazing song.

NOW PLEASE ANSWER MY PRAYERS CAUSE THE END IS ALL I CAN SEE

SAVE ME

I CAN’T HELP IT, I’M BREAKING DOWN

There is no denying that the last single released before the album dropped would be a fan favorite. Save Me stands up for every single one of us who struggle with pain, depression, mental instability – anything that may cut us short in life. More melodic than dark and heavy, we can hear the pain in Cristina’s voice once more. The mantra of this song, presented by the band themselves: IT’S OKAY TO NOT BE OKAY.

Musically, another powerful song that uses bass behind vocals to really hit home a message. We hear you, guys – it really is okay to not be okay.

STAND HERE BEGGING FOR HELP – THE ONLY HUMANS WALKING THROUGH THIS HELL

BLACK ANIMA

I’M LONGING FOR THE RAIN TO WASH IT ALL AWAY

The final track hits us right where all final tracks should. A strong closer with heavy goth vibes and soaring instruments (EVERYONE shines here), Black Anima bears down and reminds us exactly why we listen to Lacuna Coil. By the time the song closes, Coilers sit and wallow in the realization that this, indeed, is the end of another fantastic album – what is probably the band’s best album in nearly twenty two years.

I CAN SEE YOUR ANIMA

Review of Hybridism’s Self-Titled EP

Review by Joshua Becker | October 16, 2019

Hybridism is a “djent” band from Belgium. For those who may not know, “djent” is a relatively new sub-genre of progressive metal with lower-pitched guitar sounds. Their latest album is eponymous of the band’s name.

Before even getting into this review, I read their biography, and they are an all instrumental band- somewhat of a rarity in music. They said they tried to add vocals, but it did not mesh well with their sound, so they kept it all instrumental.

As for the album itself, it’s like a metal lite for me. Where it has aspects of metal, like the heavy drums, the guitar, the bass, etc. but the instruments are toned down a bit, just as the genre “djent” is meant to be.

Going through the songs, there is always a guitar somewhere in the background, in addition to the drums, and at times, even some electronic or mechanical sounds, sometimes in the foreground, sometimes in the background.

I honestly would be curious to see how this would sound with say a female singer. I know this was not their intention, however, and they want to stay all instrumental.

I also worry that a listener may not like the songs if they are in fact all instrumental. My recommendation is to try to get a vocalist, maybe not on all the songs, but definitely on at least a few of them. Finnish band Apocalyptica does this with different guest vocalists.

I would give this album a perfect 5, but without a singer, it just is not for me. Though, the instrumentals are great, so I will give this album 4 out of 5 stars.

Overall Rating: 4/5

Hybridism is now out and can be found on Apple Music, Spotify, and other digital outlets.

Official Band Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/hybridismband

Review of “The Pond” by Break Me Down

Review by Joshua Becker | October 15, 2019

Hailing from Milano, Italy, (the same place as Lacuna Coil), this band is an alternative metal band, formed in 2017- so, relatively new to the scene. Interestingly enough, this band has been the opening act for Lacuna Coil twice, and I hear certain elements of Lacuna Coil, not throughout, but in certain songs- particularly the ballad-type ones- whether intentional or not, I don’t know.

At first listen, it reminds me a bit of Paramore, and the lead singer, Irene Franco sounds vocally, like Hayley Williams of Paramore at times.

You can hear the heavy bass guitar and drums kicking in at certain moments of the songs, indicative of metal. Though I feel because of the lack of constant heavy guitars and drums, this album would be more of a hard rock than metal.

There are two tracks, for me that really stand out “Your Game” and “The Noose”. “Your Game” stands out because of the very catchy chorus, and it makes this song something memorable, and I can see why it was the first single to be released. “The Noose” is another song that stands out for me, partly because the instrumentation is rather catchy, but this one also has a very catchy chorus.

Throughout this whole album, I can really feel how much time and energy the band put into this album, and I can hear the soul Irene sings from.

One thing I found rather interesting, with the production of the album, the songs’ instrumentals seem to get more heavy as I progress through the album. It’s as if the songs’ stories grow darker in meaning with each passing track. Great job on that one!

The only critique I have, not being a huge fan of alternative metal is maybe adding more bass guitars, more heavy riffs, and just more that would make this album seem metal, rather than a punk-ish type rock.

At any rate, I really did like this album overall, and just wish it had more of a metal vibe to it, but overall, the production is great, vocals are clear and don’t sound like they were recorded in a basement. This actually seems like a professional in-studio recording. Kudos for that!

I look forward to hearing another album or tracks in the future, just to see what you took from my review.

Overall Rating: 4.25/5
*Giving less points only because of the lack of heaviness.

“The Pond” comes out officially on Thursday, October 17th 2019.
You can listen to them in every digital store.

Official Band Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BreakMeDownIT/

Review of ‘Heaven’s Demise’ by Glasya

Review by Joshua Becker | October 14, 2019

Glasya is a band that hails from Lisbon, Portugal, and they are described as a symphonic metal band, which, when listening to the album, I can definitely hear elements of Nightwish, Tarja, and other symphonic and operatic bands and artists.

Their album, “Heaven’s Demise” is a really great album, well composed, with a lot of fast paced guitars and drums, mixed in with some choir/operatic sounds in the background, and other melodic electronic sounds in the background.

The only bad thing I have to say about the album is the vocals seem a bit rough in production, and it seems as though the vocals may not have been recorded in a professional studio, like the instrumentals were. In addition, the singer sounds as though she is trying to find her voice (literally), as the operatic vocals trail off and then come back, as if she has not developed proper control of her operatic voice just yet.

She is almost there, but has a little bit of work to do. This is not a bad thing though, as everything else has come together nicely, and I really enjoyed listening to this album- reminiscent of Nightwish back in the days of “Oceanborn” and “Once”. Almost like, this was a demo for one of those albums, which for me, is great as I am a huge fan of Nightwish and Tarja.

One of the tracks that really stood out for me was the eponymous track “Glasya”. It has a very Egyptian/Middle-Eastern vibe to it, and I have to admire the experimentation there. In fact, this track alone has made me change my review on the album, because it was so different and out there, in terms of production, and composition.

It kind of reminded me a bit of Nightwish’s Sahara. I wonder if the band may actually be influenced by Nightwish or Tarja, because there are too many similarities here.

One thing I really like about this album also is that each song sounds similar, but different enough that the songs mesh well and seem like they are from the same album, rather than random tracks and sounds thrown in there.

In conclusion, Glasya, I would love to review another album of yours in the future, and hopefully the production is a little bit more finely-tuned then. Do not get discouraged about not getting a perfect 5, as everyone has something to improve upon, and I see great potential in you all.

Overall Rating: 3.75/5

Band’s Official Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GlasyaOfficial/

Review of ‘The Most Attractive Force’ by Universal Theory

Review by Joshua Becker | October 13, 2019

Universal Theory is a goth-rock band hailing from Madrid, Spain. The album being reviewed today is “The Most Attractive Force”.

My first impressions of the band have a very Lacuna-Coil-like vibe, not so much from their recent albums, but more so from when they were Ethereal with the songs “Frozen Feeling” and “Shallow End”. There are also elements here of a band I know called “Moonspell” from Portugal.

The songs have a lot of heaviness with the guitars, the bass, and the drums. Also, like Lacuna Coil, there are some songs that have a “ballad-like” feel to them, particularly “Unfinished Desire”. One thing that stands out with “Unfinished Desire” is that it sounds similar to the Lacuna Coil E.P. and “In a Reverie”, like an experimental goth-rock-type sound.

It seems like the band have not fully established their sound as the album instrumentals don’t clash well, and the vocals seem to be a bit drowned out because of the instruments in the background. This is not a bad thing, it just means that the production of the album could use a little bit of work

Majo Martos, the female lead-singer, and Jesus Pinilla, both sound eerily like Cristina Scabbia and Andrea Ferro, respectively. It’s quite interesting, and if the band came from Italy, it would make complete sense, but they hail instead from Madrid.

I have to commend the band on the fact that they sing as if they care about their music, and I can hear the heart and soul they have put into the music.

Aside from the rough production of this track, I give it a solid 3 out of 5, as there is definitely potential here. My only big complaint was the production, as mentioned earlier.

Every artist has to start somewhere though, so I don’t want this review to be seen as a negative. You have great potential Majo and Jesus, never stop improving upon yourself, you have the potential to be a mainstream metal band.

Overall Rating: 3/5

Band’s official site: http://www.universaltheorymusic.com/

Interview with Joanne Mariani

Interview by Jessica Clingempeel | October 10, 2019

You have been pursuing music for awhile now and are ready to record and get your name out there. What kind of music are you planning to do, or will it be a mix of different genres?

Joanne: I’ve been recording since 2008, my current songs can be heard on YouTube, and for purchase on Apple iTunes and CDBaby. My genre has been rock but coming back after 6 years and a new producer, we are in the goth metal genre and will keep it that way.

You use the phoenix a lot in your music, with it being your first song, and also the name of your album. What does the phoenix symbolise to you?

Joanne: This is my first song after 6 years. The Phoenix is my favorite as it will be the album title as well. The Phoenix is a Greek mythological creature that arises from it’s own ashes. For me it symbolizes that I’m back, resurrected and better then ever and is a song basically on vengeance on whoever did me wrong, as can be heard on the clip.

Who are you working with to produce your album and are you signed to any label yet?

Joanne: I’m not signed yet, but I’m working with a very known producer who’s worked with big names in the industry. He’s brilliant and such a badass lol. His name is Mo from Firestarter Recording Studios.

Do you write your own lyrics and where do you draw your inspiration from?

Joanne: Yes I write my own lyrics. My inspiration comes through life, others and simply when my head is flooded with lyrics that’s when I write.

You are a huge fan of both rock singers, Tarja Turunen and Sharon den Adel. Have you thought about recording a cover song by one of them?

Joanne: OMG YES!!!!!! That would be awesome!!

Being of Greek heritage, can we expect any Greek lyrics in your music?

Joanne: I’m Greek and Italian, but I do have a Greek song written that was never recorded and I don’t know if I will as it’s a very personal song of someone passing away and how I learned things from them. So that one may stay “in the drawer” for now. I want to focus on my English songs. But stay tuned cause you never know!!

You are also into acting and have landed a role in the show Blacklist. Have you done anything else and/or are auditioning for any other roles?

Joanne: Besides the Blacklist I was on the Village which was cancelled after one season. Currently a script is being written for a possible movie based on a true story and I’m waiting for that script to be done to read it and see if we can pitch it to the right producers and directors and such. Fingers crossed!

Apart from the acting and singing you are also a mother of two boys. Do you find it difficult some days juggling everything or does it come easy for you?

Joanne: Basically both of my boys are in school all day so the days I’m off it’s easy. But when it comes to acting I have to be on set extremely early and don’t get home til late in the evening or night depends. That’s when it gets tough. But luckily I have my mother to come and take care of the boys if I have an acting job. So it works out.

Other than acting and music, what are some of your other hobbies?

Joanne: I love cars always have since a little girl so I’m really into that – I’m a gearhead lol, spending time with my family, reading, cooking, and watching certain shows I’m hooked on. That’s about as boring as I get lol

If you had to pick just one musician to do a duet with, who would you choose and why?

Joanne: Tarja because she’s always been one of my inspirations and when I met her she even told me not to give up so who knows what the future holds? Hopefully one day I can make my dream a reality.

What would you like to say to the readers?

Joanne: I’d like to say to my current fans thank you for supporting me and to the ones that don’t know me yet, I hope that they will take the chance to visit and “like” my page on Facebook (facebook.com/joannemarianiofficial) as well as Instagram joanne_mariani_official but more importantly to check out my music and please do buy my current songs, stay tuned for the finalized Phoenix song and I would appreciate their support. Thanks so much!!!!