Italian alt metal superstars Lacuna Coil are shifting the paradigm yet again with new album, Black Anima. Just as Comalies (2002), Shallow Life (2009), and chart-smashing Delirium (2016) upped the ante and rocketed the Milan-based outfit into the upper echelons of metaldom, Black Anima is a level beyond all that. It’s both a hard look at the past and a brave sprint into the future. Two years in the making, Lacuna Coil’s ninth album arrives after the group published their first book, Nothing Stands in Our Way, in 2018 and celebrated in auspicious fashion their 20th Anniversary with an ultra-exclusive, all-out insane live show in London, dubbed The 119 Show: Live in London. Lacuna Coil have never shied away from hard work. Nor, have they restrained their creative impulses to push things—new songs “Anima Nera,” “Reckless,” “Veneficium,” and “Sword of Anger” are mind-blowers!—to the absolute limit.
“We’ve been very busy,” says Lacuna Coil vocalist Cristina Scabbia. “We’ve played a lot of live shows between Delirium and Black Anima. We published our book, a chronicle of the Lacuna Coil story. And we crossed paths with our 20th Anniversary, which resulted in a quick switch from the Delirium album cycle to the 20th Anniversary one. We had a big change in our look. Our show changed a lot. We had special effects and artists performing on stage with us. That became The 119 Show, actually.”
Formed in 1994, Lacuna Coil quickly became one of Century Media’s biggest selling bands. From Comalies (2002) and Karmacode (2004) to Shallow Life (2009) and Broken Crown Halo (2014), the high-flying Italian act demonstrated an uncanny ability to pull in rock, gothic, and metal audiences. The band’s spirited and lauded live performances have also earned them a solid reputation for a band that not only delivers night in/night out, but also a band whose stage performance reverberates long after the show is over. Indeed, Lacuna Coil’s heartfelt, heavy, melodic, and rhythmic metal—a hybrid of gothic, groove, and alternative—has created a rabid worldwide following. Whether it’s “Our Truth” and “Delirium” or “Nothing Stands in Our Way” and “Trip the Darkness,” Lacuna Coil’s dual-vocalist assault is immediately identifiable. New album, Black Anima, continues the Italian’s reign atop the metal stack.
“We’ve stopped comparing records,” Scabbia says. “Every record we’ve done was a picture of the time in which we wrote it. This record, Black Anima, was really written around our live performances. The songs we enjoy playing live the most are the heavier ones. So, when we started writing, the songs naturally were heavier. We have more growls (for Andrea) and epic parts (for me), too. Over the years, we’ve mixed European and American styles, but I would say it’s hard to describe what we sound like now. It’s still Lacuna Coil—our trademark—but it’s also a new trip, one we want our fans to enjoy.”
Written together with longtime Lacuna Coil band producer (and bassist) Marco Coti-Zelati over the course of the last few years, Black Anima, is the culmination of many inputs. From images and words to soundtracks and movies, Coti-Zelati hunts for and creates new expressions of heavy. For Black Anima, the enterprising song-smith came up with 15 songs in total, of which 11 made it to the album. He dug deep into Lacuna Coil’s historical repertoire, looking for heavier and darker, melodic and melancholic. Songs like “Veneficium,” “Apocalypse,” and “Layers of Time” are modern takes on debut album, In a Reverie (1999), while others show Lacuna Coil venturing into slower, more experimental territory. Of course, what Lacuna Coil album is without its keystone pieces, songs that unite all, songs that are geared for upward and outward momentum; the catchy stuff, really. Black Anima is that album, diverse, energetic, and luxuriant.
“We used Delirium as a starting point,” says vocalist Andrea Ferro. “With Delirium, we wanted to be freer. If the music called for a heavier arrangement—like double bass drums, deeper growls, or having Cristina go epic—then we went for it. We didn’t really think about songs that would be for the radio or songs that would be singles. We had to stir things up a little bit. It was still Lacuna Coil, but maybe the way we presented the music was more unexpected. People really liked the honesty of Delirium. With the new record, we really wanted to take things to the next level. When Marco started writing the songs, he knew he could push the songs in every direction without worrying too much. There’s a lot of diversity on Black Anima.”
“It’s an evolution of Delirium,” Scabbia adds. “It’s Lacuna Coil. It’s a bit modern and a bit old. It’s us. It’s hard to describe what Black Anima sounds like. I mean, there are old-school European sounds and there are very modern sounds. Throughout our career, we’ve been pretty free to do what we want. If we want to make a darker sounding song, we can do it. If we want to write a longer song—like ‘One Cold Day,’ for example—we can do it. That’s the cool thing about Lacuna Coil. We can be who we are. We don’t really think about the songs without taking into consideration who we are. We know what Lacuna Coil is. We know what fits. It’s like a movie. We’re not going to put in a character that doesn’t fit the movie. Every record is a movie. It all has to make sense. I think that’s something you can hear on Black Anima.”
Lyrically, Lacuna Coil’s principals opted for self-reflection on Black Anima. Songs like “Save Me,” “Reckless,” “The End is All I Can See,” “Now or Never,” and the title track tackle the ends of the human condition, from revenge, death, and hate to justice, positivity, and equanimity. Often, the lyrics are tied to personal things the band are going through. As a group of musicians into their 20th year, the sheer number of possibilities could be overwhelming, but they needed to fit Lacuna Coil’s lyrical parameters. Certainly, songs about paying the bills or going to the post office aren’t in scope on Black Anima.
“The lyrics touch on the personal side of the members of the band,” says Ferro. “We touch upon feelings and reflections, the passage of life. People who are no longer with us, for example. All of us experience this, actually. Whether it’s a loved one, companion, or animal, there’s no escaping it. We thought it was important to talk about that. Cristina and I also started reading books on topics that related to our new lyrics as well. There was one book that talked about the religious and scientific sides of life and death. Of course, we used the darker side of our imagination for this because it fits our mood, our sound, our way of writing music. As for the title, Black Anima, I like to put together words. Like Comalies and Karmacode, for example. Black Anima was the same thing, really. The two words tie together perfectly to define the concept, Anima is soul in Italian and the feeling throughout the record is dark, black so it was easy to pair the words together. “
The past few years have been marked, in various ways and in different degrees, by loss for the band, giving rise to the concept of souls (Anima). Whilst the songs on Black Anima go beyond this concept and explore different themes, the overall idea is brought together with custom made tarot cards by the Detroit artist, Micah Ulrich. Each card is tied to a song on the album and reflects the lyrics and the meaning of the song. Andrea explains “in the traditional sense, tarot cards are consulted to find oneself, to find meaning in one’s life and to find hope in the future. We wanted to take this idea of searching and apply it to our lost Animas, our lost souls. Our cards are designed and invested with the properties of searching and finding lost Black Animas.”
For Black Anima, Lacuna Coil returned to BRX Studio in their hometown of Milan. They employed the same team to engineer (Michele Adani and Marco Barusso), mix (Marco Barusso), and master (Marco D’Agostino for 96KHZ.IT Mastering), with songwriter/bassist/keyboardist Marco Coti-Zelati manning the production chair again. So, the winning formula continues on Black Anima, as does the recording lineup, with one exception: longtime drummer and friend Ryan Blake Folden has chosen to undertake new adventures in his life and has decided to step down as the full time drummer of Lacuna Coil. Richard Meiz (Genus Ordinis Dei) has filled Ryan’s shoes in the recording studio and will be playing the European shows with the band.
“We wanted to go there [BRX Studio] because it’s a place where we can get things done,” says Ferro. “It’s a small studio. When we’re in that studio, it’s like essential people only. It’s not suitable for just hanging around. It’s not comfortable. There’s no chill-out room or green room. It’s designed for work. It’s very solid for that purpose. Also, we chose BRX because it’s in Milan. This allowed us keep commitments while also continuing to work on the album. I mean, we had shows that we had booked, a comic convention at the same time we were in the studio. In the end, the studio was perfect for us.”
“We really enjoyed working in the studio in our hometown,” Scabbia says. “When we did Delirium, it was so nice. We totally got the result we wanted. So, we thought we’d try it again, the same studio and team. I will be honest here: sometimes I like it when we’re writing a record or recording a record and we’re away from home. Home is nice but there’s always distractions, little things that take your time or your attention. Home can be distracting. That’s why in the beginning I wasn’t in favor of doing Lacuna Coil-type things in Milan. Now, we’re able to separate the studio work and being at home. I really enjoyed the studio this time around.”
Lacuna Coil’s next steps are to promote Black Anima with every ounce of their beings. The Italians are slated to hit the United States in September with Europe to follow November. The rest of the world will definitely be thereafter in 2020. Before then, however, they’ll take the The 119 Show to New York City for two spectacular, can’t-miss nights, as well as perform at some of Europe’s finest festivals. Black Anima itself is out October 11th on Century Media. The spell-binding album is ready to sate diehard fans and mine new ones. Indeed, that’s exactly what Lacuna Coil are planning on.
“We hope Black Anima becomes part of their lives,” says Scabbia. “Their legacies. That they’ll remember it as being an important part of their existence. Friends of ours say that every album of ours is like a movie. So, this movie is about maturity in our lives, facing some hard points in life. We also have a lot of energy. We are able to give Lacuna Coil new life with this new album. We always have new ideas. We are always able to create new atmospheres. That we can create something fresh after all these years is personally reassuring. But we want fans to be surprised. We can’t wait to hear what they have to say!”