Lacuna Coil - ULU, London

Tonight's opening act October File, after a grandiose and pompous intro tape, are something of a damp squib. The simplistic, monotonous riffs amble on by with no sense of urgency and little in the way of menacing bite; very quickly, the one dimensional music gets exceedingly dull and fades into background noise. Supposedly 'post-punk', tonight they are so mundane as to make it nigh-on impossible to venture beyond "clichéd middle of the road metal" as it just drags on and on and on...

Straight Line Stitch are equally ill-fitting as a support act for tonight's headliners, and once again we are tormented with another thirty minutes of torrid, uninspired drivel. Despite protestations to the contrary, they sound neither mean nor different, instead peddling hugely derivative American pop punk and hardcore – think Avril Lavigne on crack – that is almost universally met with blank faces. Calling the audience "English douchebags" may not have been the wisest move, and when calling for everyone to physically engage with final track 'Black Veil' no more than a score of the thousand odd punters react with any sort of enthusiasm.

After such appalling support, Lacuna Coil really could do no wrong; not only that, they got the whole of ULU absolutely rocking with a highly polished and super tight performance that spoke volumes of their experience and skill in this most fickle of arenas.

Cristina Scabbia just oozes sex appeal with her sultry, powerful voice and elusive on stage persona; and sparring partner Andrea Ferrero cuts a forceful and mesmeric character every time he steps up to take over the leading role.

The set begins in deliciously heavy fashion as the anthemic 'Our Truth' is swiftly followed by bedfellow 'To The Edge'. The nu-metal undercurrent does come bubbling to the surface at times, no more so than in the alarming 'I'm Not Afraid', but Lacuna Coil manage to veer away from mindless plagiarism.

Disappointingly, the band completely eschew their first two albums, and given the reaction Comalies favourites 'Heaven's A Lie' and 'Swamped' receive, this might be a bit of a mistake; darker, heavier and catchier than anything else tonight, these earlier pieces stand out a mile as their best work.

Two new tracks off the forthcoming Dark Adrenaline record also get an airing tonight; both 'Kill The Lights' and 'Trip The Darkness' show the promise of a change in direction, a more overtly gothic feel closer to Nightwish et al whilst still retaining their usual penchant for sing-along choruses and meaty riffs.

Lacuna Coil are enthralling viewing tonight, putting on a passionate and energetic performance that sees the adoring crowd respond in kind as they jump in unison during 'Fragile' and sing every word to 'Enjoy The Silence' at maximum volume. A raucous 'Spellbound' brings it all to a close, and leaves everyone in eager anticipation of a return bout next year.

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