It’s Wednesday evening and Manchester Academy 2 has a look of a mental asylum about it. We are all welcomed to Lacuna Coil’s sanatorium; masked mannequins are hanging from the ceiling and two large metal fences are awaiting the patients to perform around it.

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The bill this evening is entirely European, and first band Genus Ordinis Dei aren’t starting quietly. The symphonic death metallers absolutely slay and the band have the intense growl of heavy metal, twinned with a unique orchestral sound. Tracks like Red Snake and new banger Halls of Human Delights are a real treat. G.O.D have made a great impression on the Manchester crowd and you’ll probably see them on a festival poster near you in 2017!

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With a mic stand not unlike those found on stage with Korn or Five Finger Death Punch, Forever Still dominate with conviction beyond their years. Frontwoman Maja Shining is captivating; her voice is suited to the heavier tracks like Scars but also perfect for the softer and more emotional moments like Save Me. Forever Still are destined for greatness- they have the songs along with the stage presence to set them on their way to a long lasting career like tonight’s headliners.

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With almost 20 years of experience under their belt, Lacuna Coil emerge all in white straitjackets covered in blood and dirt. Frontwoman Cristina Scabbia shines a torch into the seemingly over-capacity crowd, possibly looking for an escaped fellow prisoner. Ultima Ratio from new album Delirium is a great opener, and the balance between Scabbia and male singer Andrea Ferro’s vocals is perfect. His melodic, almost spoken word verses are very different to the ethereal, soaring choruses from Scabbia; there are also hints of screams from both singers. Spellbound and Die and Rise are more dominant for Ferro’s vocals, but the stage presence of Scabbia isn’t lost- she is grooving along to the songs and keeping dead eye contact with the first few rows of the audience.  Heaven’s A Lie is the first of many huge crowd sing-a-longs, and the energy doesn’t die down during new track Blood, Tears, Dust. There are electronic undertones in the song with beautiful operatic vocals from Cristina, contrasting massively to the intense screams from Andrea.

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Classic track Trip The Darkness is huge and definitely gets the biggest crowd reaction so far, there isn’t a person in the room not screaming the catchy chorus, even if they can’t quite hit the same soprano vocals as Scabbia. The balance between new and old songs in the set is refreshing to see; even though it’s the Delirium tour, it’s great to see Lacuna Coil staying true to their hardcore following and playing the old school hits that got them to where they are today. On the album Delirium, Downfall features a guitar solo from Myles Kennedy of Alterbridge- whilst Kennedy obviously wasn’t present during the show, the solo was perfectly executed by new touring guitarist Diego Cavallotti. There are a wide range of ages within the crowd this evening, some evidently having followed the band for almost two decades, whilst on the other hand, some who won’t have even been born when the band began. The reason behind this diversity could be down to LC’s frequent trips to the festival circuits or touring with typical younger bands like Motionless In White (the two bands co-headlined a UK tour in 2014), whatever the reason, it’s working to their advantage.

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The stage set up of the mental asylum and the uniform clothing of the band is dramatic but does not take away from the exceptional musicianship seen this evening. A special mention must go out to Cristina; her vocals are utterly outstanding and mesmerising. Bassist Marco Coti Zelati is eerie and dominates the stage, with makeup similar to Captain Spaulding from the Rob Zombie horror House Of 1000 Corpses. The whites of his eyes are lit up by the impressive and bold light show, which adds to the horror and creepiness of his character on stage.

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Our Truth is massive; the celestial holler to begin the track echoes around the 900 capacity room, while there is a surge of energy as the band drop into their cover of Depeche Mode’s Enjoy The Silence. Nothing Stands In Our Way is the people’s anthem, the statement of “we fear nothing” resonates with the audience: this is the reason people attend shows, to be empowered or inspired by music or a certain lyric.

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The band re-enter the stage for their encore and Scabbia states that “we’re all a little crazy in our own way”, before playing title track from new album Delirium. The album deals with many issues surrounding mental health and it’s great to see a band with a platform like Lacuna Coil bringing the important subject of mental health to people’s attention. Final track House of Shame is also from the new album, the growl from Andrea to open the song is super powerful and it is possibly the heaviest thing we’ve seen from the band all night.

Lacuna Coil managed to create an experience rather than just a typical gig this evening; from the stage setup to the actual music, everything was polished and perfect.  It is obvious why bands like LC can stay around for so many years. Even with line-up changes and a development in music, the driving force surrounding their success is their creativity, individuality and their ability to stay current within the industry.

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Photography and words by Forte Photography UK – Website/Facebook

Lacuna Coil – Website/Facebook

Forever Still – Website/Facebook

GOD – Website/Facebook