(Live Review) LACUNA COIL + SUPPORT - The Forge Joliet, September 23/22
Review by Mark McQueen
Tonight, The Beard and Little Johnny traveled to The Forge in Joliet Illinois for the last night (on US soil) of the Lacuna Coil tour including Butcher Babies, Uncured and Lions at the Gate. As always, the Beard took upstairs VIP seating while Little Johnny headed to general admission and close to stagefront. The last time the Beard saw Lacuna Coil live, they were touring behind Karmacode almost 18 years ago. It will be interesting to see what two decades of touring has done for/to them.
LIONS AT THE GATE Alternative Nu-Metal kind of sound. Mixing aggression with melancholy. Think sad angry Korn kind of music.
Semi clear lyrics. Lots of hair shaking. Little Johnny was digging it as an opener. Sound here seems decent. Vocals could be stronger. Mix was drowning out singer somewhat. This project is what rose from the ashes of 2019’s Ill Nino when three of their members left and formed Lions at the Gate. There is definite musicianship and talent here, but it’s in a style and subgenre I’m not too into. As an opening band though, I will offer a respectable ... 75/100
UNCURED Unusual voice that was part prog, part technical, part hardcore metal from New York City . (Ed: NYHC?) These brothers (Rex and Zac Cox) have been playing since 2016 and both sing AND play guitar. Since they started when they were 18 and 16 respectively, one could say music has been their whole lives and they have been working this unusual Dream Theater-meets-death metal style into public acceptance.
Even their look, (with the singer performing in his white jacket), was as strange as the mix of music itself. As was the blueish button-down sleeveless silk-like shirt he wore near the sets end. Definitely not traditional metal appearance, yet they seem to make it work.
In one sense, I look at the appearance and think a frat formed a metal band. Initially, I didn’t hate it, but also didn’t love it. On the other hand, as the set went on, it did grow on me. Although his “soft sounding” voice just kept striking me as weird, his death voice was an antithesis as was the merger of these types of sound they were performing. Odd touches like playing blindfolded for part of a number, admittedly I didn’t really understand, but their energy was compelling, and they kept me interested for the whole set. When the Beard does NOT check his watch, then you have me intrigued. It was unique enough to keep watching. 81/100
BUTCHER BABIES The metal “show” that is The Butcher Babies had Little Johnny going crazy. A hot blonde and a raven haired beauty in shorts singing half death/half nu-metal was just what the lad needed. Honestly not really my thing but I do get it.
The Butcher Babies have been plying their trade since 2013 and they certainly have their fan base because of it. Patterning their name (and musical style) after Wendy O Williams and the Plasmatics, is a novel choice and, in addition to their touring sucess, I think their groove-metal meets-thrash sound would make one hell of an aerobics class given how much running around Heidi Shepherd and Carla Harvey did in 45 minutes.
The Butcher Babies did their thing and the crowd certainly enjoyed it so…got to respect the crowd and, of course Little Johnny, who now needs a break. At one point during their set, he even got his favorite form of exercise - a circle pit. Definitely a high energy set and the Beard was happy to be upstairs in relative safety. 82/100
Hard to believe I first saw this goth metal band almost 20 years ago when they were just breaking into America from their native Italy. At that time, touring behind Half Life and Unleashed Memories, my first experience with Christina Scabbia and an early Lacuna Coil was at a small venue in Aurora Illinois where they were second on in a five band bill headlined by Moonspell. Even then, hearing her operatic range, the Beard thought “They could be big.”
Comalies, would be their next release in 2002, (and it was the 20th anniversary celebration of that album that dictated much of tonight’s set). By 2004, Comalies had become the biggest seller in Century Media's history and the band was invited onto the Ozzfest tour, (effectively selling their look and sound to millions across the United States).
Although the Beard lost track of them a few years after that, they have gone on to release another six albums since then, including Comalies XX which reworked their songs of twenty years ago.
A few criticisms from what I saw last night: The band's obvious choice to have a lack of front lighting, in my opinion, severely limited how much “show” there was. I realize singer Christina Scabbia is now 50, but she remains quite lovely, and fans seldom got to see her properly lit up. Her voice is still strong and even if she has lost an octave, she still blows away many in that genre. The beauty and the beast style between her and Andrea Ferro, (merging operatic vocals with a sinister deathlike growling counterpart), works to lend depth and power to the music, but sometimes overshadows the beauty of it as well.
Masks and face paint (on the band members) were a new touch since I last saw them and to me didn’t enhance the appearance due to the very low front lighting. Ultimately, if that’s the way they want to present themselves visually, totally their thing, but I preferred the old way 20-years ago, although that said, Johnny was enthralled with the guitarist, and raised his metal horns every time he stepped up into the crossed blue and white lights to solo. Lacuna Coil does continue to evoke an image a little different from everyone else in the alt/goth metal genre and I will say I enjoyed the performance.
Several of the reworked Comalies songs (for the 20th anniversary album) were to my ears slower and a lot heavier. I confess I prefer the originals as they allowed Scabbia’s vocals to soar into the stratosphere more, but then the Beard is an old school boy at heart.
Ultimately, the reworked Comalies XX, performed live on stage made me see Lacuna Coil as a heavier, sadder, and darker band than I did twenty years ago. That said, perhaps they are simply a reflections of our own world, one that over the last twenty years has itself gotten sadder and darker, encasing its own identity under a “mask” of social media, and more and more operates out of the shadows and away from the full light. Lacuna Coil 2022 may well be a product of existing these last twenty years and their image may be a mirror of all of us. The Beard shall self-reflect as he awards them ... 87/100