Delirium review by Lacuna Coil

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  • Released: May 27, 2016
  • Sound: 7
  • Lyrics: 7
  • Overall Impression: 7
  • Reviewer's score: 7 Good
  • Users' score: 5.5 (10 votes)
Lacuna Coil: Delirium
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Sound — 7
It's been quite a couple of years for this Italian alternative metal band, with massive lineup changes (leaving only vocalists Andrea Ferro and Cristina Scabbia, and bassist/keyboardist Marco Coti Zelati as the band's remaining original members), with long-time guitarists Cristiano Migliore and Marco Biazzi, and drummer Cristiano Mozzati leaving the band (Mozzati leaving just before the release of the band's previous album). Many bands would hang up their towel and call it a day with the loss of half of their membership, but rather than capitulate, Lacuna Coil has decided to soldier on, with Zelati taking up the lion's share of the guitar playing duties, save for many of the album's guitar solos, which feature a rotating lineup of guest performers, and new drummer Ryan Blake Folden making his official recording debut with Lacuna Coil. The result is a bit of a change in the band's style, which has gotten a bit less reliant on Andrea Ferro's harsher vocals over the last few albums and became a little bit more of an accessible hard rock sound. On "Delirium," however, the band returns triumphantly to a more metal-oriented sound fans of the band's earlier material will be familiar with. Andrea's vocals rely much more on his shouted vocals, almost to the point of making this record sound rather harsh. Cristina Scabbia's vocals almost seem pushed back in the mix a little bit, only coming out during some verses and choruses, but when she does sing, she reminds me why her vocals have always been my favourite element of this band's sound.

Musically speaking, the album's heavier tones should appeal to many of Lacuna Coil's fans, especially as there seems to be a big overlap between Lacuna Coil's fanbase and those of bands like Korn, which is a band I could easily compare much of the instrumental work on this album to. And while the album does seem to take the bulk of its influence from that early 2000s style of alternative metal, there are shades of other styles of metal throughout the record, with the opening track "The House of Shame" sounding somewhat reminiscent of "Roots"-era Sepultura, and even a few very brief flirtations with a very modern-sounding "djenty" style on tracks like "Ghost in the Mist" and "Claustrophobia." Even though this may make it seem like the album covers a lot of ground, to be perfectly honest, I found many of the tracks to sound very similar to one another. A few of the songs in the album's second half (which I found to be somewhat stronger than the first half) open with almost the same kind of palm-muted single guitar line.

Most of the songs are anchored by low seven-string riffs that stick between the root and minor second (or the 0-1-0-1-0-1-etc. style of metal guitar, as many commenters would mention), and this is not something that varies much through the album. Some of the songs themselves seem to be constructed out of as few individual parts as possible, with a few songs basically just containing alternating verses and choruses with not much else. Songs like "Delirium" and "Take Me Home" contain melodies that would come off much stronger, had they not been repeated so often. While Lacuna Coil's songs traditionally don't contain very many guitar solos, the band saw fit to include a few on this record, but without a permanent guitar player during the recording sessions, the band enlisted the help of many guest performers, including Myles Kennedy from Alter Bridge (who plays an atypically bluesy solo on "Downfall"), record producer Marco Barusso ("The House of Shame), Mark Vollelunga of Nothing More ("Blood, Tears, Dust"), Alessandro La Porta formerly of Italian metalcore band Forgotten Tears ("Claustrophobia"), and even the band's new permanent lead guitarist, Diego Cavallotti, plays a solo on the album's closing track, "Ultima Ratio." Happily, Diego's solo on that track is my favourite on the album, and he absolutely shreds on that track, meaning that the band will be continuing on with a particularly excellent guitar player, and that future albums should likely sound much better.

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The production on the album is another slight weak point for me, as much of it is mixed very loudly, and there isn't as much breathing room for the instruments and vocals to shine through. There's a very prominent "wall of sound" style of production throughout the record, and even the album's softer moments try to fill as much sonic space as possible with keyboards and reverb-drenched guitar parts and loud, searing rhythm guitars. It can make the experience of sitting to listen to the whole album a little bit painful, and it almost seems like an album you'd want to listen to in shorter bursts rather than sitting and trying to digest it all at once. The bass doesn't shine through as much as I'd like it to, and it sadly seems as though some of Cristina Scabbia's vocals just aren't as prominent in the mix as they should be.

Despite some of the flaws in the sound, there are some pretty great musical moments on this record, and the sneak preview of new guitarist Diego Cavallotti's style shows that their future albums will have some serious potential. The album's second half also has some incredibly epic-sounding tunes like "Claustrophobia," and I find that the album's tracks that don't feature as much of Andrea's harsh vocals are the better tracks.

Lyrics — 7
Cristina Scabbia and Andrea Ferro represent a sort of classic "soprano and gravel" lineup of vocalists, and for the most part, the album uses them in roughly equal proportion. Cristina's vocals are among some of my favourite female vocals of any metal band, since she has a particularly unique sound that separates her from a lot of her contemporaries in the "gothic" alt-metal scene (think gals like Amy Lee, Sharon Den Adel, or Tarja Turunen). Cristina has used her vocal style well in many other contexts as well, including the most recent album by one of my own favourite musicians, Arjen Lucassen, on his Ayreon project. As mentioned before, her vocals are very much my favourite aspect of Lacuna Coil's sound, and sadly, the production style of this album seems to have pushed her vocals back in the mix a little bit, with vocal harmonies like the ones on "My Demons" seeming a little distant. On the other hand, Andrea Ferro's vocals have shown a much more prominent return to harsh shouts and growls, though he does still employ some very nice clean vocals from time to time (especially on the song "Take Me Home"). His harsh vocals, in contrast to Cristina's slightly-pushed-back sound, are very upfront and overwhelming in the mix. While I do enjoy harsh vocals, the way they're presented on this record does make me feel a little like they were trying to overemphasize them.

Lyrically, the band tackles the usual topics of personal demons, depression, anger. Tracks like the opener, "The House of Shame," exemplify this approach with lines like "Why always staring into the light? /If I don't hide inside the darkness/You'll be compromised/But sometimes/You will fly with me again/without falling." The vocalists also have a tendency to repeat certain lyrical lines quite often, to the point of bringing them beyond just being a simple "hooky" earworm and almost to just simply being annoying. The chorus of the title track simply consists of the word "delirium" repeated over and over, and the vocal hook in "Take Me Home" gets repeated ad nauseum.

Thankfully, the skill of the two singers is enough to forgive some of my lyrical misgivings, as they are delivered quite well, even if the vocal production is a little off.

Overall Impression — 7
This is far from a perfect release from Lacuna Coil, but it should please long-time fans who might have become a little bit disillusioned by the band's recent explorations into a more typical hard rock sound. The band's performances throughout are rather good, and the new lineup is proving itself to be a worthy one. With a little more contribution from guitarist Diego Cavallotti, the new Lacuna Coil has the potential to really grow and become a huge force in the alt-metal scene once again. At times, the album might seem a bit anachronistic, reminding listeners of Korn, and sometimes it almost seems a bit too modern, with brief flirtations with bands like Born Of Osiris, but the vocals of Cristina and Andrea seem to give the band an identity of their own. Though the album does have a tendency to come off as a little harsh and loud, and the elements of the album can become a little repetitive, there are plenty of perfectly enjoyable musical moments on this record. One of my favourite aspects of this record are the many guest solos, which run the gamut from the atypically bluesy Myles Kennedy to a sort of "Korn if they were shredders" approach by Mark Vollelunga.

If you're a fan of Lacuna Coil, especially their early material, you owe it to yourself to check this album out. If not, you might still find this to be a good record. Far from one of my favourite releases of 2016, but still something I would find myself coming back to listen to again.

26 comments sorted by best / new / date

    oldbobenglish
    Great review Travis, thumbs up mate. In A Reverie through Shallow Life contain some of the most spectacular tracks that stay in listening rotation on my playlist.. With dark Adrenaline, it felt like some of the energy was still there, but something was missing. Broken Crown Halo I admit only received 1 listen.. I wasn't compelled to purchase it and sadly, Delirium might get the same treatment. To be honest, it feels like the songs have lost their atmosphere, like songwriting is no longer the dominant passion or livelihood. With the old records, the hard tracks had commanding groove and the slow tracks hypnotized like lullabies. These new songs are clearly Lacuna Coil, but the trigger isn't there for me... If I had to pick 1 from Delirium, Blood Tears Dust is the track I would favor.
    jvokes
    This is spot on. As you say, the last couple of albums have felt like a gradual tapering off of passion. Then with the disintegration of the band, it's led to this album. It definitely feels like the songwriting talent left with the departing members. I can't believe after seven albums they can push Cristina's vocal talents to the back in favour of Ferro's. I've bought this album, because I'm some kind of weird completionist, but it will sit there gathering dust along with St.Anger.
    kumamilesbear
    I agree with you on the songwriting talent, but it's really weird because for years the bassist was the primary songwriter, and did most of the composition for Karmacode and afaik Comalies.
    eatfresh1736
    Their early albums have certain parts where her vocals give me chills (Stately Lover, Heaven's A Lie, To The Edge, Our Truth). The music was also melodic, with great interplay between the guitars and the keys. Their more recent stuff, especially Delirium and Broken Crown Halo, have some groovy riffs, but her vocals are less prominent, and the music sounds no different than any other alt-metal band. Ferro needs to take a back seat again. Don't get me wrong. I think his voice is integral to the band. Some great examples are Honeymoon Suite (he does the gritty verse, leading to Cristina's haunting chorus), and Stately Lover (he does an epic growl under her soaring chorus. The growl really sets the emotion in the song. But he is not an interesting singer in himself. He only works as a compliment to her lead vocals.
    interview11
    Perfectly written, couldn't agree more!! Btw, those are my favourite songs too. This album felt like an attempt to me to go back to those days In a reverie came out, but for some reason, Cristina let herself be pushed back and without those truly haunting, beautiful melodies this album just won't stand a ground. I've watched with increased worry over the past few years how the creativity in sense of deepness left the songs. In a reverie was heavy and deep, with the passion of songs like My Wings; my all time favourite Unleashed Memories was full of incredible songs and the best guitar solos I've ever heard. Comalies was still okay and had some great stuff, but something definitely started to change with it (I remember that's when their huge American success started...maybe too much attention - happens a lot. It leads to exactly this: repeating a chorus of empty words over and over, not caring enough to stay meaningful - no need for much effort anymore. ) I've been a fan ever since the very start, so please don't take offence - I love them and this is just my opinion. But as I followed them since the first EP, I always noticed instantly when Cristina only got the backstage. I hope they/she will realise where her and the band's true strength lies!
    jvokes
    I've always been of the opinion that Lacuna Coil would have been better off leaving Andrea Ferro in a cellar somewhere and locking the door. I've tried listening to this album, and I don't like it at all. I have all their previous stuff, so I'm no stranger. Ferro's voice annoys the hell out of me, but at least on previous albums he was used sparingly. Here he is definitely taking the lead vocalist role, and it's to the detriment of the album and the band in my opinion. They are also suffering from the loss of Magliore on guitars. Disappointing effort.
    ryanbwags
    I had to wait entirely too long to hear Christina in "House of Shame" and when I did, she was way too quiet. Those pipes need to wail. Andrea needs to give it up. If I wanted to hear "Roots", I'd listen to Sepultura.
    thejay2
    I am inclined to agree with you about Andrea Ferro's vocal style; I don't think it is terrible as such, more that it dramatically overshadowed by Christina's ability. There are some songs from their back catalogue I just can't listen to because of Andrea's voice. He comes across to me as being more of a backing singer/harmoniser rather than an all out singer.
    blooddrunk
    deal with it. theyre not evanescence. it wouldnt be lacuna without him.
    ryanbwags
    You deal with it. I'll take back what I said a bit. I like him enough. Dark Adrenaline was one of my favorite albums of 2012. Much better than anything out that year. Easily a high point for LC. Problem is: When you have Christina Freaking Scabbia in your band, you don't push her to a backup position so your male vocalist can growl his way through songs. She should be front and center. At least more of a 50/50 split.
    travislausch
    "They are also suffering from the loss of Magliore on guitars." If you read through my entire review, you'll note that they hadn't yet chosen their new guitarist, Diego, and he only plays the solo on the closer. Personally, I think his solo is extremely good, and if that's the caliber of playing we can expect from this band in the future, I'm not at all disappointed by the loss of Magliore. I can definitely see your point though. The similarities of nearly all the riffs was a bit of a sticking point for me, and I would have enjoyed a lot more tonal variety on this record.
    TombOfHorror
    The duo of Ferro / Scabbia is what I love most about Lacuna Coil. It's highly formulaic, but it's a good formula IMO. This album, however, suffers for the change in formula. More and harsher vocals from Ferro, less Scabbia... I found my least favorite Lacuna Coil album to date. As for the guitarwork... it's decent but not spectacular. I definitely miss the style that Cristiano & Marco brought.
    Cyrus6789
    Even if you defend Ferro as a contributor to the band's unique sound, he still needs to be locked in a cellar simply because he is not trying to harmonize with Scabbia at in this record. He has mistakenly acquired the mindset that he has equal vocal talent as she does. Ferro trying to take lead in this album is baffling, if it ain't broke don't try to fix it! Karmacode and Shallow Life were amazing albums because he didn't use that deep, gruff voice repeatedly and Cristina was given the opportunity to show off her amazing voice over and over again. If you want to take the helm of the band Andrea, join Lamb of God!
    DethCouture5150
    I don't like the new vocal approach, but the music is decent... I feel like they need to find the groove they had for Dark Adrenaline and Shallow Life. This band needs to get back to their more melodic approach, and yes, Andrea needs to get the fuck back in the vocal pocket, he is not a qualified lead vocalist IMO.
    blooddrunk
    Ferro haters - it wont happen. Lacuna is both of them. This is a decent album but they need to return to listening to Paradise Lost again. More of the Comalies mindset.
    QuantumInfinity
    Alright, I like Christina's voice as well but "(...) she has a particularly unique sound that separates her from a lot of her contemporaries in the "gothic" alt-metal scene (think gals like Amy Lee, Sharon Den Adel, or Tarja Turunen)." how can you insinuate that any of them sound similar? They all sound pretty damn unique so there is not a lot of separation from one another needed.
    aerialspider
    I took that to be a poorly-worded sentence meaning all the listed ladies have unique voices.
    travislausch
    It's the fact that, in my opinion, there are really two kinds of female hard rock/metal voices: the sort of cold quasi-operatic styles of Sharon and Tarja, and the more jazzy inflections of singers like Cristina and, I'll admit, Amy Lee as well. Most of that is just down to tone and timbre, and it's purely my own opinion. I find that Cristina has a very different style of voice to all three of the singers I listed, a bit more of a unique timbre. It's actually kind of hard to quantify.
    jvokes
    So which category do Angela Gossow and Alissa White-Gluz fit into then?
    travislausch
    I guess that's another one too, but I don't really listen to much Arch Enemy so I wouldn't have really thought of that one.
    stefan_771
    IMO the first two singles are very strong bu the rest of the album doesn't live up to them
    blooddrunk
    Its a decent album. But only has enough ideas for an EP. Too much pointless 'core chugging and fear factory vocals