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Album Review: Lacuna Coil’s Delirium is a Strong Contender for Best Pop Metal Album of 2016

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As is the case with most metallic subgenres, there is no definitive, unbreakable set of rules and regulations to which a band absolutely must adhere in order to be classified as “pop metal.” Generally speaking, though, you can recognize a pop metal band based on some combination of the following qualifications: their music is still too heavy for a substantial portion of the mainstream, but sufficiently melodic that your mom would hear it and say “Well, at least I recognize that as music” and your tr00 kvlt friend will dismiss it out of hand and claim it’s not metal when clearly only a real turd burger would ever make such an assertion. The band may also be known for wearing silly costumes that are considered by that same tr00 kvlt friend to be less cool by comparison than the silly costumes worn by bands less tethered to traditionalist tenets of structure and hooks.

By that admittedly vague definition, Lacuna Coil are inarguably pop metal… and there’s nothing wrong with that! It’s not for everybody, but nothing is for everybody. But those seeking out something aggro that would get the “At Least” Seal of Mom’s Melodic Mandate can do no better than Delirium: the band’s eighth full-length is their strongest release since their 2002 breakthrough record, Comalies, and possibly their strongest release ever.

One caveat: all of the members of the group’s classic line-up, save for vocalists Cristina Scabbia and Andrea Ferro, and bassist Marco Coti Zelati, are now gone. On the one hand, that makes Delirium a Lacuna Coil album in name only…

…but on the other hand, much as was the case with Chimaira’s Crown of Phantoms, the total overhaul has provided the band with a welcome creative boost — a true mastery of the “Same But Different” principle of all successful franchises, at once recognizable and unrecognizable as Lacuna Coil. From album opener “House of Shame” to conclusion “Ultima Ratio,” Delirium is nothing but one ridiculously catchy, cinematic song after another, all influenced by an array similarly mainstreamish artists including Faith No More, Nine Inch Nails, and Sevendust.

Also not hurting: many of these tracks are bolstered by guest guitarists providing truly excellent solos. These cameos include Alter Bridge’s Myles Kennedy sounding an awful lot like his sometimes-bandmate Slash on “Downfall,” Alessandro La Porta going full Sambora on “Claustrophobia,” and Mark Vollelunga on album highlight “Blood, Tears, Dust.”

If fans bristle at any aspect of Delirium, it will be the album’s relative paucity of more upbeat, Karmacode-esque material. But most should find it hard to complain about almost wall-to-wall “Heaven’s a Lie”s. And it’s not like the album is wanting for energetic anger: I can’t remember Ferro ever having done this much screaming in the past.

In short: Delirium is addictive and will temporarily consume your listening schedule. Maybe Lacuna Coil should go through massive line-up changes more often?

Lacuna Coil’s Delirium is out this Friday, May 27 on Century Media. You can listen to the track “House of Shame” here and pre-order the album here. You can listen to an interview with vocalist Cristina Scabbia on The MetalSucks Podcast here.

Update: An earlier version of this review stated that the only remaining original members were Scabbia and Ferro. This has been updated to include bassist Marco Coti Zelati. 

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