Words by Michael Naidos
LACUNA COIL had established their place in the gothic metal scene by the time of the release of their third album Comalies in 2002 to strong reception from critics and fans alike, elevating their reach to countries outside their European homeland.
The floral album cover artwork scintillatingly stood out in the metal section of record stores everywhere, and it still stands strong as some of the band’s finest work. An album close to fans’ hearts and a couple of decades later the band are out to show that it’s close to theirs too, affectionately recreating the classic.
Considered a “special project” rather than a tenth studio album, Comalies XX sees the group recreate the album in full, although they are quick to clarify it’s not a reboot or a re-recording, rather a deconstruction. The thirteen tracks are then remodeled from the same guys with a different perspective.
It’s an interesting and intriguing concept, I admit and my curiosity going in was sky-high, pondering what could possibly influence this new release and just how different will these recordings be from the originals from the early noughties.
The modern nu-metal influence is already apparent in the updated electro-industrial basslines from the opening hook of Swamped XX. Something that is also obvious by the forefront are the heavier tones to their sound, recognisable from their recent years, which includes the grittier voice adopted by vocalist ANDREA FERRO.
Whilst it brings something different to the shared vocals with CRISTINA SCABBIA that LACUNA COIL are renowned for, it still is as captivating and impressive as ever. The opener instantly overwhelms with scorned harmonies throughout the verses and a chorus that reels you in with a suckerpunch everytime.
Heaven’s a Lie XX sees one of the more popular songs from the album get a big upgrade in that it generally exhumes a huge theatrical sound fit for arenas, which makes sense when compared to the changes in rock production since the early 2000s, an era for which some more albums come to mind that could use the Comalies XX treatment. The hook is once again the harmonies produced by the shared duties on vocals, which is amped up to match the quasi-industrial thumping rhythm section.
A jungle cry opens Humane XX and Scabbia takes the reins as the prominent vocalist and now would be as good a time as any to lay praise unto one of the influential and consistent singers from the wave of popular metal/hard rock newcomers from the dawn of the millennium and acknowledge that she is the main focus of the quintet gaining the highest of respect within the community. Her hypnotic and acrobatic intensity powering the dreamy dimensions of her voice is not even the half of it, not to mention the strength and determination to also voice advocacies to gender inequalities within the music industry.
The song itself has an entrancing tempo thrust by the energetic duo of bassist MARCO COTI ZELATI and drummer RICHARD MEIZ as they tantalisingly drub and twirl their way through the ethereal harmonies superbly.
The slick production of Self Deception XX captures the essence of being caught between helping and hurting yourself with the double kick drums guiding the emotional anguish smoothly, while the establishing track of Aeon XX is given a modern synthetic makeover.
Another fan favourite in Tight Rope XX travels well, and the mood changes throughout solidify how this band succeeds in holding the listener in a trance through personal emotions created by the atmospheric compositions.
The Ghost Woman and the Hunter XX’s impact feels the most different, as the tone is set by the influence of synths and adds a more poetic emphasis to the song’s theme of distance.
Entwined XX carries sombre tensions of the verses and the pacing chorus tremendously with some of the strongest collaborative efforts on the album, with kudos to guitarist DIEGO CAVALLOTTI for his own personal flair interjected into a top-class guitar solo before a charging refrain to end another popular track.
The album continues with the upbeat The Prophet Said XX complete with catchy riffs and repetitive strengthening of “I’m all alone again” as well as the next song Angel’s Punishment XX which begins with a montage of media snippets revolving around Coronavirus from around the globe to give a modern touch to the destructive nature of the lyrics.
The titular Comalies XX passionately closes things off as curtains close on Lacuna Coil’s monumental recreation, which successfully suits the time and age and handled with delicacy to not sully the project or alienate fans, but instead they have released a true-to-form piece of art that should satisfy long term fans and perhaps even collect a few new ones.