Sound: For nearly 20 years, Italian metalheads Lacuna Coil have contracted the ability to take the substance of generic alternative rock and douse it in their own vindictive style. Producer Don Gilmore (Linkin Park, Avril Lavigne) could be credited to the approach but in a way, it's a European thing. "Dark Adrenaline", like most of the group's discography, channels the rugged demeanor of alt metal - with every drum pace providing a steady tempo - until the guitars and bass rebound off each other to make each series of chords and transitions into hooks feel bigger. It's a trait that's contributed to when a hardcore act unexpectedly drops the sound to let a new riff implode or when an older, more articulate metal band tries to enunciate a guitar part with volume.
For Lacuna Coil, it's the album's glue. Compare it to their last few releases and "Dark Adrenaline" has the most clean feel to it because it tries to communicate through refined progressions and not disorder. The opening kick of "Upside Down" is stable enough to pinch the ear while also hanging on to the change of pitch between vocalists Cristina Scabbia and Andrea Ferro, leaving room for a slime-like riff to intervene once the chorus stops. "Kill The Light" achieves such an inviting behavior by making the strings louder around the verses, an aspect the power metal ballad "Intoxicated" has to accompany the four-second post-hook riff that evaporates the mediocre vocals.
There are always the differing features to a heavy alternative album and though Lacuna Coil tap their almost two decades-long chemistry into every recording, they, along with every artist in similar genres, struggle to be original for more than ten songs. "End Of Time" is more radio-ready than any Evanescence collab that exists and "The Army Inside" holds too much macho alternative tones to make a decent listen for three minutes. That sound, that wraps a bit of gothicka around the cover of R.E.M.'s "Losing My Religion", thankfully isn't used to an extent and doesn't blemish the record on being a crude tribute to Michael Stipe. // 7
Lyrics: Despite the tight knit feel that backs "Dark Adrenaline", the album from the Milan rockers lacks a serious sting when it comes to vocals. That's not to say Scabbia and Ferro are washed out singers in this age; both, even going on 40, carry individuality in their voices that animates their dark lyrical imagery and throughout the beginning of the record, make the switch between pitches and tones natural. When the album hits its racing point, the vocal work starts to burn out, sounding repetitive and not providing a spark for when it's needed ("End Of Time", "My Spirit"). Moments like Scabbia's snake-like croon during the nu-metal breakdown of "I Don't Believe In Tomorrow" are imaginative, even exceptional, but the use of spoken-word Italian and techniques ultimately drown out a song into being yet another recycled alternative radio-cut that's more noise than a written piece. // 5
Overall Impression: Taking in a sound that's similar to contemporary alternative rock and not calling it just that requires the patience to actually listen and the mindset to not label music within a second. For those who are incapable of doing either, "Dark Adrenaline" will barely be looked at, which is a negative connotation it carries despite it shows a fair amount of progression Lacuna Coil's style and instrumental capabilities. It's not quite radio ready thanks to the dark feel to every chord, verse and the development of a collaborative duet has, but it's not a strip of Evanescence or Seether either. From the opening bit to the conclusion, you can't help but think this isn't the end for the band. There's something more, something the band has yet to pull out and let loose and though this studio attempt takes a knee, there's an odd feeling the band still has a few lines of midtempo rock to shout at the top of their lungs. // 6
- Joshua Khan (c) 2012