Lacuna Coil’s hybrid of goth, groove and alternative has thrust the Milan outfit towards the upper echelons of modern metal. Spearheaded by co-vocalists Cristina Scabbia and Andrea Ferro, the band had become synonymous with rich, haunting instrumentation by the early 00s as a result of two transfixing albums, In A Reverie and Unleashed Memories. But it was 2002’s Comalies that set a benchmark, not only for the band, but for gothic-tinged metal as a whole. And despite tapping into an immersive amalgam of past sounds and unexplored territories on subsequent releases, Lacuna Coil’s third album arguably remains their anthem-laden masterstroke to date.
The MO of Comalies XX is to revisit and revamp these songs two decades later. The most noticeable element of “deconstruction” comes in the stripping back of programming and synths. The lyrics on Swamped and quintessential belter Heaven’s A Lie are more discernible with key changes and additional vocal flourishes, extended guitar solos and Andrea’s growls packing a marked aggressiveness in their delivery. There remains an incredible sense of atmosphere at play as Aeon – its disquieting ambience backed by Cristina’s hypnotic cleans – segues into a menacing Tight Rope on steroids. Heavier arrangements collide with oppressive soundscapes as it unfurls like a Dario Argento movie soundtrack amidst unsettling keys and vitriolic screams.
While Cristina is at her crystalline best, there are moments – such as Entwined, and Angel’s Punishment – where that spine-tingling feeling of the OG material is lost due to the atmospheric nuances being eclipsed by a more modern rock mix. Diehards may blanche at the makeover of such a sumptuously ethereal record, but overall these 13 tracks are re-dressed and, to quote Cristina, sounding “fucking slick in 2022”.