Review of Lacuna Coil’s ‘Black Anima’

Track-by-Track Review by Joshua Becker | September 19th 2019

Before beginning the review, I want to preface, listening to the tracks and paying close attention to the lyrics, this is an extremely personal album for the band, maybe even more so than their previous records, and as such, it commands the utmost respect. So often, we, the media forget these albums are very personal for the artists, and extremely negative reviews truly hurt someone who puts their heart and soul, quite literally into their works. You can say something isn’t good in a way that is both honest but also respectful. So often, I have seen some absolutely awful and despicable album reviews. This will NOT be one of them, I promise you that.

At any rate, I want to start by saying your favorite Italian metal band is back, swinging right out of the gate, that dark, heavy metal vibe you all have been asking for is here, complete with more growls from Andrea, more introspection from Cristina, some really high notes from her as well, a lot heavier drums and guitar, and yes, yes, dear fans there are some Italian words in there, which I know many have requested. 🙂 

Lacuna Coil’s sound has darkened so much over the years, and especially in this album, it most definitely has a very heavy vibe to it, heavier than any album they have released. When Cristina said in an interview this album would be much darker than previous records, she really meant it. 

Each track you listen to, even if it is a “ballad” of some sort, you can still feel that darkness, that heavy-sounding  metal-type of vibe, especially with how many times Andrea has deep, low growls in the tracks.

I can only guess the band went through some extremely dark times during the recording and composition of this album to make the sound as dark as it has become. The analyses you are about to read are my own, and do not necessarily reflect the meanings to the band.

Music is one of those things where even if you cannot fully understand what an artist means in their work, you can still apply it to your life, and as Cristina put it to me in the interview on “Dark Adrenaline”, “it’s a cool thing about music that everyone can give a different interpretation according to the moments they’re going through.”

“Anima Nera” (Prologue)

This is the first track on the album, and can be seen as a precursor for what is to follow. An interesting thing to note is that it is the only song on the album that is completely a ballad, with no heavy guitars or drums in the background.

Even though it is not a heavy guitar, bass, and drum track, it still has a darker metal feel to it, unlike any ballad Lacuna Coil has ever done.

The track opens with some sounds in the background that sound very rapid, and the tone of them seems like it may be Cristina running from someone or something.

With a soft-toned piano in the background, and towards the end of the track sounds a bit like a siren in the background, which further may prove my theory about the running.

The first words Cristina sings are “I like to bury myself in pain, you know what I mean,” This is a very powerful statement as it suggests she is used to experiencing the pains of being human, and she has decided, even if it causes a delirious state of mind, she is going to embrace the pains and use them to their full advantage.

One might even say she sounds possessed or under the influence of some dark entity or force she is struggling to deal with, especially because while she is singing, it sounds like her voice has a higher pitch to it. 

Ending the track she gets lower-pitched saying in Italian “what remains of my black soul“, signifying this experience she went through has her question how much of her soul, which is already black from the pains of the past, is left. Perhaps the pain she felt has overtaken her, she no longer feels alive anymore.

“Sword of Anger”

As the name would suggest, this track comes right out with a heaviness; conveying anger, the guitars, the drums, such a powerful, thrashing beginning. Andrea being the first on the track, growling with such force you can really sense the emotion he is trying to convey. 

The first words out, “We are the Anima“, which may convey the band are the soul, the driving force of their lyrics, and going through not only this song, but all the songs on the album, you can feel that driving force that keeps them going.

As we know, without soul in music, you cannot get your point across as a band or musician, and you may even come across as disingenuous. No matter what song you listen to by Lacuna Coil, (and as a fan of over 10 years, I have heard every song, including bonus tracks), I can honestly say they pride themselves on their work, and they put every bit of heart and soul they can into their music.

After all, Cristina told me they don’t write about fantasy stuff, this is therapeutic for them, a day-to-day diary of their lives, what they experience in life, and how they are handling it.

With that being said, we get to the chorus “we don’t heed you, the sword of anger will cut in the deep.” What is the sword about, and could it be a metaphor for an ending to something that angered them? We will get back to that in just a second.

When you near the end of the song, Cristina says a line which gave me goose bumps: “There’s more to us that you will never see. What is meant by what she said? Who’s to say? Just like the meaning of 1.19, the band will always hold the most personal moments in life to themselves.

Right before we get back to the chorus, Cristina is vocalizing and the notes are so high and they remind me of a fight, and perhaps, this “sword of anger” is destroying their enemies or the dark and painful memories they have experienced.

“Reckless”

The second single, released on Friday, the 13th of September, called “Reckless” begins with what sounds like a Güiro, (which, if you don’t know is a Latin American musical instrument with a stick and ridges which creates a “ratchet” sound). In addition, you hear what sounds like guitar strings being plucked in a low tone. Then the thrashing of the drums and guitar come in.

You can hear a very haunting sound in the background, almost paranormal in nature. Cristina enters, “tonight, it’s going down, to hell with all the innocence…” 

Tonight, it’s going down” could mean no holds barred, they are going all in. “To hell with all the innocence” could mean maintaining an innocence could be holding them back, and they will do whatever it takes to get what they want.

Later on the chorus kicks in “you make me, make me reckless“, which means to me someone or something makes them act on impulse without thinking of the consequences, taking that pain they were caused and turning it into something. After all, they say the greatest inspiration comes from pain and agony we face in our daily lives.

The best thing to do with pain is channel it into something artful, whether it be a song, poetry, or even a drawing, just let it out. It is completely human to express your feelings, in any way that you relate to, and in any way that makes you feel comfortable and sheltered.

“Layers of Time”

This is the very first single released by the band on July 26th.

The song begins with what sounds like a clock ticking in the background, suggesting the concept of time, and how it cannot be changed, there are no time machines to get back what was stolen from us.

Next, you hear an electronic sound in the background getting closer and closer until you hear Andrea belting out the words “layers of time“. All the while, heavy guitars and drums can be heard in the background.

Cristina sings the chorus: “victims of time, we take our chance again, our road is paved with pain, the past we can’t rewind.” This seems to be another example of what I mentioned earlier about the concept of time fleeting, and never being able to change the past, and mistakes we may have made. Especially the line “the past we can’t rewind.” Even though time has been stolen from us, we will not relent, we will never surrender.

The bridge leading up to the chorus loses the heavy guitars and drums and has a ballad-like feel to it with much softer guitar tones in the background.

Cristina starts singing “twisting, turning, through the baptism of fire, burning, angels, falling, through the spiral of time“. Almost like being trapped somewhere, like a maze with fire all around, angels falling and being lost to time. 

Finally, she says “Through layers of time, we’ll live again, forget the past, we’ll be alright.” Whatever dark place she was in, it seems she made it out, for now at least, as we get back to the chorus and the end of the song.

“Apocalypse”

The next track “Apocalypse” begins with vocalising in the background and what sounds like a very ominous piano organ in the background. You think it is going to be a ballad, as the song starts off slow, but surprise, it’s not.

The guitar and drums play heavy while the vocalisation continues in the background. Andrea says “while you pray, we don’t care.” This could be about death, praying for someone to be saved, hoping and wishing they will be okay, and death comes.

Death doesn’t care about prayer as it is inevitable, just like time, you can never change either one, unfortunately, and we all have experienced loss, and we wish we could have saved our loved ones, or at the very least spent more time with them before we lost them. If only we had more time.

A different interpretation could be against an enemy. “While you pray, we don’t care” could mean “saving yourself will not work and it is a waste of time trying because we will destroy you and nothing will save you.”

Next you hear: “Apocalypse it’s going down, this time, and I’m surprisingly alive.” This may signify something has already happened and they are surprised they’ve made it through the flames, while scathed, they still made it.

Going through the lyrics of this track, I can’t help but feel there may be a guilt that is felt for being alive while someone else is not.

Towards the end of the song, you hear Cristina sing “looking through the hourglass“, further in “let the fate decide, right here“. 

Could this mean the hourglass is relating back to “Layers of Time” where time is fleeting once again, and they are staring into what time is left, then just say “to hell with it, what is meant to be will be, we cannot change that?”

Even though it pains us, we have to keep living, even those long gone, we can still mourn them, but we cannot stop the inevitable.

“Now or Never”

“Now or Never” starts off with a very melancholic violin, and you hear crackling in the background, though the crackling is very subtle. The heaviness rolls in, with Andrea growling “walk me out of here, take me away.” This suggests to me, there are moments they do not want to deal with, take them away from the pain, of the hurt they have experienced.

It could also be a metaphor for “the beast” since that is mentioned in the song. It could go back to a previous track in which like Cristina, maybe someone else is also self-blaming and appears to be their own worst enemy.

This song is very fast-paced, with the heavy riffs and drums, but there are also moments when the song slows down a bit.

Cristina sings “now or never, the time is right, out of your shelter“. This could be seen as a metaphor that they need to face what has been haunting them, and keeping them sheltered. If they don’t do it soon, it suggests that it could be too late and there will be more pain, more agony, it’s time to get back to the life they once lived. Forget the pains of the past, because as unfortunate as it is, we all have to move on, or at least try to at some point in our lives.

There is a part in the song when Cristina and Andrea collaborate, they are exuding a powerful moment together where it sounds like Cristina is essentially screaming and Andrea is growling, both with such force it almost seems like a war cry while in battle.

There’s no mercy for the innocent“. This could suggest just like in a battle or war, the innocent, if they are in the way, they will be hurt and nothing can be done about it.

They have not, and will not ever give up the fight, no matter how much pain, and how many tears they have shed, and whoever has wronged them will pay, even if an innocent person gets in the way.

“Under the Surface”

This track is very fast, to the point it signifies a passion burning deep inside. Heavy guitars, drums, this is an overall very heavy, fast-paced track.

There’s a line at the end of the track’s beginning: “but the smile is fake, there’s much more that hides behind, all your senses are compelled to lie“. This means, to me, someone has lied to them, or deceived them in some way, but they know that smile is fake, the person’s actions or feelings are fake, they can see right through them.

There is another line in the track “everything feels perfect when you’re spinning lies.” This seems to go together with what I mentioned earlier about deception, lies, a facade of someone or something that has wrong them.

It continues “but deep under the surface the battle comes alive“. Is this “battle” a metaphor for the fight that is about to ensue between they and the person or thing that wronged them? Does “under the surface” mean deep within their soul? 

They feel the anger building, they feel that they are so pained, so much aggression is coming to a point where they are ready to go in swinging, ready to go in with everything they have to teach the wrongdoer a lesson? 

As you progress more into the song, it seems that they don’t want to put up a fight, they want to be sheltered, they just want it all to go away, and they will fight only if they have absolutely no other choice.

The last lines of the song are “you never stood a chance, so keep on burying your head in the sand“. Perhaps this means the wrongdoer cannot hide anymore, and everything around that person or thing is collapsing, so bury your head in the sand because now everyone can see what you truly are.

You are naked in the eyes of others, no more hiding, everything about you has been revealed and you will suffer, with nothing, and no one to help you as you live the rest of your days in loneliness and isolation.

“Veneficium” (Poisoning or sorcery in English)

This was a very interesting track to listen to, not only because of Latin sung in the beginning, but because it sounds very symphonic, slightly operatic, which I have definitely never heard from Lacuna Coil- this track was a huge surprise to me. It kind of reminded me of something Tarja or Within Temptation would do. (Speaking of, if you have not heard the duet between Cristina & Tarja on Tarja’s new album ‘In the Raw’ do so now. The song is ‘Goodbye Stranger’.)

I can only assume the operatic vocals are indicative of their native Italy, as Italy, as we all know is extremely famous for opera. In fact, a little history lesson: the first known opera was in Florence, Italy in 1598.

We start with the operatic-feel in the background, followed by Latin, some of what is said is “nova vis ad diem novum nascitur“, which, when translated, loosely means “a new day is born”. I can only guess this means a follow-up of sorts to “Save Me”, wherein we heard Cristina’s monologue and how no matter what, no matter the pain and grief and fear, she will revolt with everything she has.

The opera still continues in the background, but the heaviness creeps its way in slowly, with the guitars and drums, as the operatic Latin is still heard in the background.

A line right after, “I’m unmoving like a stone, this silence screams so cold, I wish I was so far from here” stuck with me. Could this be an unwillingness to move because of fear, and the fact of wanting to be gone, to be somewhere else physically or mentally?

This song seems like a breakup of sorts, either mentally or a relationship ending. There is an overwhelming sense of pain to be had either way. In fact, the lyrics of the entire song suggest that: pain, the ending of something that was once held so dear.

Progressing through the song, you hear a line “here I come, to show you all the wounds inside my heart“. This seems like someone’s heart has been crushed, destroyed, shattered.

Another line that stuck with me heavily was “I would destroy my own life to consume your soul“, this suggests a readiness no matter what, even if it kills them, to take that person’s soul, so they won’t be around anymore to cause more pain.

There was a time we looked down from the clouds, we climbed sky high, thought that we would never fall, how come you didn’t even try.” This line suggests that they went so high, enough to reach the clouds, feeling on top of the world, suggesting nothing could bring them down, and when one of them fell down, the other person did not even try to save them.

They damn sure put up no fight, it was easier to let it go, even though the other person wanted at least some kind of fight to be put up. So often, when breakups happen, we feel this way, and we feel the person who broke up with us did not even try to work things out. It was just easier to let go than to fight for what is right. After this line, the song goes back to the bridge leading into the chorus. First, a very nice guitar solo seeming to convey almost sorrow, symbolic of tears being shed. Afterward, we get back to the chorus.

After the chorus we hear “Here I want to start again, keep learning day by day.” Suggesting that they want so badly to move on, to forget the pain and start anew.

I’m afraid to see what I became, I know it will never be the same“. The suggestion here is right now, a fear that they have been changed, they have been corrupted in a way by what happened.

A short line “here I come, I know I will never be the same,” suggests to me “I am ready to greet a new day, and to heal, even if this experienced changed me, I have not given up the will to live, I will not keep my heart cold”. Back to the chorus again a few times, then the song gets softer and fades out.

“The End Is All I Can See”

In the beginning of the song you hear what appears to be electronic sounds, with sort of a distortion that is being felt. Soon after, you hear what sounds like knocking at a door. Then the guitar and drums kick in, but not so heavy, rather milder.

The first line “I am just realizing, this pain is almost like salvation“, suggests “I have finally come to the understanding that this pain is almost freeing, because I can focus on it, rather than focusing on what once was, the loss, the fear”.

It also could suggest a reprieve from sins, for their part in whatever happened, just like the line “clean away my sins” later in the song suggests, “I will do anything to fix what is broken, to reverse time so this never happened”.

Clean all my sins because I want to be with you.” This line suggests that “whatever I did for you to cause this pain, I want you to know that I am sorry for my part, clean those parts of me, so we can be together again”.

The evil within, stinging and burning, consumes me with guilt“. The suggestion here is whatever sins, as mentioned earlier that may be at fault, were the result of some evil thoughts, and a guilt is being felt from deep within that cannot be helped because those evil thoughts were never intentional, and they wish none of this ever happened. 

Maybe, going back to the other songs alluding to time, there is not a way to go back to change what has already happened. A lot of us, myself included can relate to doing things we regret, and wishing we had a chance to go back in time and fix them.

But I asked Cristina in an interview if she had any regrets or moments in time she wished she could change, and she said “maybe they are but they might change who I am right now, which I am pretty happy. So I wouldn’t change a thing”.

I only hope she and everyone else can take heart in the fact if you could change the past, you could be a completely different person right now, and friends could be out of your life, different things could happen, and is it worth the risk to change what is happening now?

The last words in the song you hear are “now, please answer my prayers, because the end is all I can see.” There is a suggestion that the prayers for redemption could be wanting to get back the moments time had stolen, to be given a second chance to prove that things can go back to how they were before.

After all, life is ever changing, every evolving, and some things are great, some things we embrace with open arms, but other times we hate ourselves, we hate others, we grieve, we have sorrow and immense guilt.

We are humans, and emotions can be our greatest ally, as they convey compassion, or they could be hindering us, but that is up to the interpretation of every human being in the world to decide for themselves.

“Save Me” 

“Save Me” starts with a fast-paced but slightly-subtle guitar sound in the foreground. As Cristina comes into the song, the pace gets faster, and the drums kick in with a heaviness.

Save me, from myself, I could use your strength right now.” This is among the first lines of the song, and suggests Cristina is her own worst enemy and she needs help, someone’s strength to keep her out of that dark place inside her head.

Something I feel many of us can relate to, as there have been many situations in which we have felt we are our worst enemy, and just like she calls out in the song, we look towards any source we can to save us from the mental torture we put ourselves through. 

So I keep asking myself will I be strong enough to face this mess“. This next line may suggest she is concerned if she will have enough strength to face the music and deal with what has happened. Will she have the strength to get out of her head, get out of that dark place to face what has transpired.

Cristina has a monologue at the end, a sort of reflection on what has happened, what has caused her to get to this point in her life. Maybe she feels guilt for something? 

During the monologue, Cristina says she hates what she sees in the mirror. Without giving too much away, she can’t turn back time but she is not giving up.

In that last line of the monologue, she sounds like she is gritting her teeth in a way that is the strength being summoned to get through the tough times. That driving force has come back ready to seek vengeance.

In Lacuna Coil fashion they don’t give up, they keep singing, keep writing, keep fighting, keep thriving, and most important, keep surviving. 

The heaviness of the guitars and drums ends, and you hear what sounds like a soft, sad violin in the background and a very low-toned piano hitting one note.

This was the bridge getting back to the chorus, because when you think the song is over the heaviness comes back to the chorus. Then at the end of the song, the heaviness fades again, hearing nothing but that soft violin-type sound slowly fade out, 

I cannot help but notice the song, overall, seems like there is a deep fear that is felt, a fear maybe Cristina cannot change what she has become because of what she went through. In addition, her greatest fear really could be herself, as hinted at many times, but that is just my interpretation. 

“Black Anima” (Prologue)

Not including bonus tracks, “Black Anima” is the last track of the album. This has a very ominous, haunting melody with something sounding like it is reverberating in the background with what almost sounds like a music box also in the background throughout the song.

There is a mix of emotions I feel with this last track. I feel the songs before were fighting what cannot be changed, and this one could be about acceptance of what has happened, though it also suggests anger later in the song.

Maybe it is at first sorrow for what cannot be changed, and as you go through the song they say “to hell with it”, “I don’t want to be sad, I don’t want to accept what happened, I will not be beaten down and I WILL keep fighting. 

The first line we hear is “The calm before the storm, clouds are moving in anticipation“. This could be about the storm that is brewing, and how they are ready to have the rain wash away all the anger, sorrow, grief, and pain from them. Ready to truly move on, they need to be relieved of all the toxic energy that has been built up throughout.

Further into the song you hear lyrics that suggest it is almost time and they are ready to build themselves back up as the storm has passed. They are ready to forget about the past, forget whatever happened, and they are ready to be who they once were before any of these terrible moments in life happened.

Later you hear Cristina and Andrea collaborating “our world is afraid and falling, pain, we are chasing the ghost that is trapped inside.” Maybe the “world”, they mention, is alluding to their life, their every day existence.

They are afraid of suffering, an ending, and the “ghost” trapped inside could be the past, and the only way to stop the world from crumbling is to destroy the “ghost” being the past from all memory, from any existence it ever had.

Almost the last line of the song say “all the walls that keep us separated, we will break them all, and reunite, and when I’ll be gone, you’ll keep our legacy alive“. Could this bring attention to the fact the “us” is referring to the soul, the “anima” that has been trapped for so long inside as mentioned earlier?

Back to the line “and when I’ll be gone, you’ll keep our legacy alive” could this be about the soul? When the soul is gone again, because of any more pain, and suffering, and grief, keep the “legacy”, which could mean the days when the soul was not broken or lost in time.

Break, smash, disarray, chaos, rise“. The final words from this album, and from this suggest a summary of the track. Destroying the past, smashing it with all their might, disarray and chaos ensue because the pain has been felt for so long, and there is a fear of the unknown, of what may happen, what is yet to come.

“Rise.” Rebuild, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, they will be reborn, just like “Veneficium” says “nova vis ad diem novum nascitur”.  A new day is born”. We are reborn.

I cannot help but notice that a lot of the songs have some correlation with time. Whether it be to turn back time or trying to fight time to get back what was stolen from them. Perhaps that is why “Layers of Time” was the first track released, as it represents that theme very well. I mean, after all, the track title has the word “time” in it.

This idea has stuck with me the entire time I have listened to this album and has become the theme overall, at least for me.

I can only then assume, the reason this album is darker, and heavier is because of personal loss. I truly believe they are dealing with loss on this record. As to what kind of loss, I cannot say with absolute certainty.

In addition, some of the tracks suggest mental torture, something tearing them apart. They may have lost themselves due to what they experienced,

All in all, this was a fantastic album to review, and the chills the Goosebumps, the sadness, (yes, I got teary-eyed through some of the lyrics), you can feel, and even relate in a way to their pain.

This was my first album I have ever reviewed, and I can only hope you like it, and I can only hope I have done it justice.

I give this hell of an album 5 stars, and not only because it was so well-composed, it was very dark lyrically, dark states of mind were definitely apparent, and the heavy guitar riffs and drum smashing just add to it.

Before ending the review, I have to say that if you made it this far, I want to thank you for taking the time out of your busy lives to read this review, I spent many hours on it, and I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have.

I want to apologize at how lengthy this is, but I wanted to do a very thorough review of each song, as the artists spent a lot of time on this work, and it means a lot to them, so the least I could do was give a very detailed, in-depth review track-by-track, rather than an overall review, as that is what I felt this album demanded.

I want to give a huge thank you, even though it may not be warranted, to Cristina, Andrea, Marco, Diego and Richard for sharing this masterpiece with the world, and for sharing such private and intimate moments of your lives with the world.

Thank you also to Claire with whom I was able to review this record and Jess, founder of this webzine, for allowing me to be the trusted one to review it.

You all are the anima behind the music.

Overall Rating: 5/5