11th November 2016
Review by Torbjørn ‘Toby’ Jørstad
Photography by Michelle Murphy
After kicking off their UK tour in Bristol the day before, Italian Gothic metal pioneers Lacuna Coil returned to a sold out show at arguably the most beautiful indoors venue in London, the Koko in Camden this Friday. Having recently embarked on their Delirium World Tour, in support of their new album released in May, the band introduced their fans to lots of new material, while still holding on to the classics. The fact that the show is sold out only shows how popular and relevant their gothic style of metal, with symphonic and alternative touches still are.
The band must really enjoy playing the UK, as they are doing a full UK tour from Bristol to Southampton, having done the same in 2013 and 2014. With an early curfew at 9:45pm, and doors opening at 6pm, a long stretch of eager fans were already lined up outside before the doors opened. A quick demographical analysis of the crowd shows a good age range, old and young; all seemingly united for tonight’s show.
The Italians brought with them fellow countrymen Genus Ordinis Dei to open up this symphonic evening.
The ground floor in Koko is hardly half-full when the symphonic death metallers take the stage at 6:30. Wearing capes and hoods, entering the stage to an ominous and sinister tape recording, the band puts on a theatrical performance worthy of tonight’s theme.
The crowd grants the band a good response initially, but remains fairly quiet throughout their set.
Frontman Niccolò Cadregari’s mix of raspy and growling vocals work well, and for the duration of their 30 minutes on stage we see delicate guitar solos, intense riffing, pounding blast beasts, and well-arranged pre-recorded symphonic and orchestral parts working together with the four musicians on stage.
They all seem to take their role on stage pretty seriously, but that’s not to say it’s hard to see that they are in fact having fun up there. The audience seems pleased as the band leaves the stage around 7pm, after a quick Facebook photoshoot. A worthy start to the evening indeed!
1. You Die
2. Embracing The Earth
3. Halls Of Human Delights
5. Red Snake
6. Roots And Idols Of Cement
Danish band Forever Still seemed before the concert as a bizarre pick for this lineup, having seen them listed as a ‘rock’ band. Misleading as that was, the Danes do in fact deliver a performance perfectly in line with tonight’s theme.
They are far from the bands I associate with Rock in the traditional sense of the genre, and deliver a hugely energetic, although short set (25 minutes). For the first couple of songs, I kept being reminded of The Cranberries, a band much closer to this heavier approach to rock, and thus a good band to compare them to.
Vocalist Maja Shining cannot be described as anything but the Danish equivalent of Alyssa White-Gluz, both in terms of stage presence and vocal abilities. “Are you having a good time tonight?” she ask an increasingly eager crowd, before announcing their new single, “Miss Madness”, off their recently released album Tied Down.
The sound is alright throughout their set. Having only one live guitarist is often times a hit or miss, some bands pulling it off without losing much of the depth in their live sound, while others should clearly reevaluate their stance on whether hiring a session live musician is really such a bad thing (looking at you, Sodom).
Forever Still manage to still sound like a complete band performing on stage, maybe to the credit of pre-recorded second guitars appearing at times. It is a shame that the mixing of the sound is a little uneven for the duration of their set, with vocals being a little drowned on “Breathe In” and “Save Me”, and the bass sounding a bit too prominent for my liking at times.
About six or seven songs into their set, the ground floor is pretty much packed, and the high energy performance gets the crowd response they deserve before leaving us in the hands of tonight’s headliner. The band leaves the stage as abruptly as they entered it, but not before also snapping a quick shot for social media.
1. The Last Day
2. Awake the Fire
3. Miss Madness
5. Once Upon A Nightmare
6. Breathe In
7. Save Me
35 minutes later, the stage goes dark and the crowd erupts into a massive roar of cheering. Lacuna Coil’s drummer Ryan Folden emerges from behind the drumset painted like a skeleton, and when bassist Marco Coti Zelati also appears painted white, I’m left wondering “did Halloween come late this year?” Very much a theatrical performance, the stage is decorate accordingly to the theme of the new album.
A straightjacket with scribblings and drawings hangs behind the drumset, and presumably a patient hangs by a rope in the Italian’s asylum of horrors. Two cages occupy both sides of the stage, showing Zelati and new live guitarist Diego Cavallotti ‘trapped’ at times.
Cavalloti, playing his first tour with the band, gives a splendid performance. With the departure of Cristiano Migliore in 2014, Lacuna Coil was left with only one guitarist, and as I stated earlier, having only one live guitarist is often times a hit or miss. Here, I feel that it doesn’t take much away from their live sound at all.
Lacuna Coil’s guitar arrangements are driven by fairly straightforward riffing and chugging, without much guitar harmonies, and thus having only one guitarist is sufficient in this instance.
The initial response to the band is great; the crowd is seemingly loving the Italians and gives them a warm welcome. “Ultima Ratio” is the set opener as well as the first of seven songs performed from Delirium, and the new material genuinely works well live.
The sound is near perfect all through their set, although it sounds a little bass heavy at times, something that might actually benefit the live sound of the band.
Female vocalist Christina Scabbia deserves all the praise she can get. Never before have I heard female vocals in metal sound this good live, and she pulls off every single high note seemingly without trouble at all.
This, paired with her fantastic stage presence and connection with the audience shows she is without doubt one of the top frontwomen in all of metal. No wonder she was recently nominated for vocalist of the year by Revolver Magazine.
“Heaven’s A Lie” becomes the highlight of the set for me, and seemingly many others as well, if one is to judge by how loud the crowd sings during the chorus.
The band probably brought along numerous songs well fit for singalongs, to the joy of both the audience and seemingly the musicians on stage. Scabbia recalls the Delirium recording sessions, saying they wanted to create “a safe place for those feeling lost and abandoned“, before introducing “Blood, Tears, Dust” off the new album. The following “Ghost In The Mist”, also from Delirium, shows male vocalist Andrea Ferro, often overshadowed by the flawless performances of Scabbia, from his best side.
The crowd seems to be progressively more satisfied towards the second half of their set, understandable as this is when we get favorites such as “Our Truth”, the new “The House of Shame”, and the beautiful Depeche Mode cover “Enjoy The Silence”.
The regular set ends with “Nothing Stands In Our Way” off 2014’s Broken Crown Halo, and the band seems pleased with our “we fear nothing!” chanting. A few minutes passes before the Italians return to stage and finish what they started, and I can easily say I was left satisfied at the end of this spectacular symphonic experience.
1. Ultima Ratio
3. Die & Rise
4. Heaven’s a Lie
5. Blood, Tears, Dust
6. Ghost in the Mist
7. The Ghost Woman and the Hunter
8. Trip the Darkness
10. You Love Me ’Cause I Hate You
11. Our Truth
12. Enjoy the Silence (Depeche Mode cover)
13. Nothing Stands in Our Way
16. The House of Shame