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Ozzfest's Lacuna Coil

Lacuna Coil's spiral to the top


Lacuna Coil plays as part of Ozzfest 2006 Thursday, July 27, at Darien Lake Performing Arts Center, 232-1900. Doors at 9 a.m., show starts 12:30 p.m. $30.50-$96. All ages

Sweet aggression

It was a night flooded with guitar kerrang and thunder; a night of heavy metal speed and volume and violence; a night of vocal muscles and eardrums stretched to the limit. Anthrax and Superjoint Ritual engaged in a crushing display of energy before a sweaty pit of raging machismo. And there I stood, expecting just another night at The Penny Arcade.

Then I heard opener Lacuna Coil. Then I heard Cristina Scabbia's voice. It rang angelic and clear over the band's precise metal dirge. The combination was eerie and beautiful. Sure --- when you add an angel to the hellfire, you think "goth metal," right? But even under the metal umbrella, the band transcended and explored multiple genre twists to create its own gothic eaves on which to perch. The metal heads stopped to listen. The metal heads stopped to stare. Scabbia is a knockout.

This was three years ago and a lot has changed for this quintet from Milan, Italy. Tours with Anthrax and Type O Negative got the group on the road sharpening their teeth in front of new fans. But it was Ozzfest 2004 that put them over the top.

Massive tour exposure and 100,000-plus sold copies of its latest CD, Karma Code, have helped Lacuna Coil graduate to the main stage at this year's Ozzfest, making a stop Thursday at Darien Lake. Of all the hard 'n' heavy heroes on the bill --- System Of A Down, Hatebreed, Disturbed, and of course Sharon Osbourne's continuing metal rendition of Weekend At Bernie's with her hubby --- Lacuna Coil is by far the most unique act on the bill. They don't lean on just one type of metal. Scabbia likes American fans' open-minded mingle. Metal fans overseas tend to segregate.

"Here in America there're not as many sub-categories as in Europe," she says from a tour stop in Pittsburgh. "In Europe there is black metal, power metal, goth it's more mixed."

This Yankee open-mindedness suits the band's multi-dimensional sound.

"The music of Lacuna Coil is a mixture of different styles and different atmosphere," she says. "You will find some songs that are really smooth, but there are songs that are definitely aggressive. There are different levels of aggression. You don't really need to scream all the time to be powerful."

Scabbia's singing complements male singer Andrea Ferro's strident pleas with an epic push and pull. And Karma Code is a heavy --- even a little industrial at times --- minor-keyed display. The mood is heavy as well. Even when Scabbia intones, it's frequently overcast and mournful. It's bittersweet and refreshing in a genre where certain aspects are beginning to show their rust.

At the end of this tour the band will head back to its Mediterranean boot for a brief break before embarking on a European tour and some soundtrack and video game work.

But for now it's all Ozzfest, baby --- even if it's in the daylight --- an oddly bright setting for such a dark sound. Lacuna Coil usually hits the stage about 5:30 each day in the late afternoon sun.

"We don't have any effects or lights because we're playing in the daylight," Scabbia says. "All we have to give is our own energy."