Broken Crown Halo is the seventh album by Italian gothic metallers Lacuna Coil. The bands first four albums are really enjoyable gothic metal, with a few nu-metal tendencies on Karmacode. on their fifth album Shallow Life their sound became overly commercial, and as a result the album was horrible, so bad it was cringeworthy, yet it still yielded one of their best songs in Spellbound. On their sixth album Dark Adrenaline though, they had something of a return to form, going back a bit more to their older sound, dropping the over-commercial aspects of their sound and making a pretty enjoyable album. So I thought Broken Crown Halo would be in the same vein, a decent enough Lacuna Coil album. Well, no. It’s a pretty woeful album from a once decent band, a very dull release.
While it isn’t bad in the sense of the over-commercial Shallow Life, where Broken Crown Halo falls down is with very dull songwriting. Opening track Nothing Stands in Our Way could instead be called Nothing Stands out. There’s a boring nu-metal styled riff serving as an intro with just bland chugging, and while there is a heavy dosage of synth in the track it doesn’t really do anything interesting, just a dull soft melody in the background. The drumming is never interesting, just keeping pace with the song. Cristina Scabbia can be a really good vocalist, but when absolutely nothing stands out in the music, it’s hard to keep interested in that alone, and on this album she has a a mixed performance. Some of the high notes she hits on Hostage to the Light are really impressive, and in that particular song her voice really stands out, but on Nothing Stands in Our Way she seems to really play it safe, singing an incredibly bland chorus without a lot of energy or spirit. And on Cybersleep and in the background of I Burn in You some of her vocal lines are just odd, her voice undulating a lot while singing, but it doesn’t fit the music and just feels out of place. It’s almost like some sort of pop diva trying to show off her vocal range, but Cristina isn’t trying to do that, so it just sounds off. And her male vocalist counterpart in Andrea Ferro doesn’t fare any better. He was fantastic on Karmacode, with his voice really suiting the nu-metal elements of the music, whether his shouting style,cleans, or rapping. Here though, his vocals don’t seem to fit the songs and just seem tacked on as an afterthought. Whether it’s his growls, which aren’t used often but on a few of the tracks, his cleans, or his shouty almost but not quite rapping voice it just never seems to fit, and the songs aren’t benefited from his voice. Fragments of Faith from Karmacode was a track where his voice was used to great effect, driving the song along with a lot of energy, whereas here he just sounds uninspired, and as mentioned, his lines just seem like an afterthought once Cristina had her vocals recorded. It’s not as if his voice is terrible here, but it’s definitely lacking.
Zombies again has really bad nu-metal chugging for most of the song, and Andrea’s stop-start singing is really dull. Cristina’s voice is a lot better here, and almost redeems the song from being a complete failure, but when Andrea just growls at random points in the background over her singing it is pretty bad. There’s a guitar solo on this one, it’s not particularly interesting, but it makes it at least a little different from the rest of the album. It’s a decent track compared to a lot of the others, but it would’ve been one of the worst tracks on Dark Adrenaline. Victims is really dull, with an achingly bland chorus from Andrea, and when Cristina tries some really shouty vocals at the end it just sounds really bad. One of the band’s worst tracks for sure. Die & Rise begins with yet another dull nu-metal chugging riff, with Andrea rapping over it, and it’s really bad, but the chorus on the song is actually pretty good. It’s a bit catchy and has a good interplay between Cristina and Andrea, but then it’s back to the nu-metal chugging, before Cristina sings in Italian towards the end. Her voice always sounds great when she sings in Italian, as shown in Senzafine way back on 2001’s Unleashed Memories, but its short lived and doesn’t add much here.
In the end I feel alive has one of the albums’s better riffs, before it descends back into boring chugging, and there’s some interesting synth melodies in the track as well. If it wasn’t for Andrea yelling the painfully bad line “Burn baby, burn baby” over and over again during the chorus, it could’ve been one of the better tracks, but as a whole it just falls down again. Following up is One Cold Day, and at six minutes long it’s easily the best, and probably the only really good song from the album. It’s a tribute to Lacuna Coil’s founding guitar player Claudio Leo, who unfortunately died of cancer last year aged just forty. Luckily the band managed to write a fitting tribute with this song. With impressive synths throughout, some really nice acoustic guitar playing, and Cristina’s best performance on the album, this is a song that could fit really well alongside anything from Unleashed Memories, they create a really gloomy and emotional atmosphere. The guitar solo at the end seems dripping with emotion, a far cry from the incredibly dull one in Zombies. The lyrics are really nice, and really fit the concept behind the song, very gloomy but at the same time almost a celebration of Claudio’s life. It’s a shame that it takes something as tragic as this to happen for the band to write such a good song.
So the music is really bland, and the vocal side of things is dull and lifeless for the most part. Broken Crown Halo isn’t an abjectly terrible release, it’s not offensive to the ears like Shallow Life was, but the song writing is so dull – nothing interesting happens musically, and you wouldn’t want to go back to it a lot. Even after a good number of plays, I can’t think of any standout riff on the album, nor any part where I really enjoyed the instrumental side of things, and other than perhaps Die & Rise there’s not even a catchy chorus or anything to hook you, the album just seems to meander along, other than the one really good song in One Cold Day. I don’t think anyone other than the staunchest Lacuna Coil fan would really enjoy this a great deal compared to their first four albums. After Dark Adrenaline I thought they might have found their way again, but after this album I really don’t think Lacuna Coil are relevant at all any more, especially that since the recording of the album, drummer and guitarist Cristiano Mozatti and Cristiano Migliore have left the band after sixteen years.
Listen to One Cold Day