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The upward spiral 

Lacuna Coil adjusts to life as Italy's great rock hope

Lacuna Coil's Andrea Ferro didn't get to stick around and see Anvil when both bands played the U.K.'s recent Download Festival, but the singer still has a certain fascination with the Canadian metal band whose near-success story has become a cautionary tale in the annals of rock history.

"I was in Borders yesterday looking for the book about them, but they were sold out," says Ferro of the companion volume to the recent film, Anvil! The Story of Anvil, which has furthered the band's reputation as a real-life Spinal Tap.

So is Ferro happy that his band hasn't met the same fate?

"Oh yeah, of course," he says with a laugh that trails off quickly. "It is funny, in a way, but it's also sad. If you were in a band like that, you probably wouldn't be that happy about it. But it's cool that at least now they're getting some recognition. They didn't have it at the right time, but at least they have something."

By comparison, fortune has clearly smiled upon Lacuna Coil. Founded more than a decade ago by tag-team vocalists Ferro and Cristina Scabbia, the band finally broke the American Top 20 in April with its Shallow Life album, which charted higher here than it did in their native Italy. Ferro credits Linkin Park producer Don Gilmore with helping the group find a more direct approach to its songwriting and arrangements.

"He really helped us take away from our music what was over-produced," he says, "like when we used too many keyboards or strings just to give it a bigger or more complicated sound. And the same went for the lyrics."

In addition to keeping things simple this time around, the band spent more time laboring over English pronunciations, avoiding mishaps like the 2006 single, "Closer," in which Scabbia sings the word "discover" as "disc-OH-ver" — much the way American Movie star Mark Borchardt kept calling his film COH-ven because the normal pronunciation sounded too much like "oven."

"That was the hardest part, because of not being the mother tongue English," says Ferro, whose English is much better on record. "Maybe the note was right and the intonation of the vocal was right, but we had to redo parts just because the pronunciation wasn't clear enough. I think it is good that you can recognize that it's a different accent. But it is also good that you understand the words."

Those who've followed the band from its semi-gothic rock origins to later nu-metal explorations may be surprised by more pop-oriented tracks like "I Like It" and "Not Enough." Ferro says the current approach came from the group having more time to reflect on its musical direction.

"I think [2006's] Karmacode was the result of us being on tour for a long time, because the previous album Comalies [which featured the breakthrough single "Heaven's a Lie"] exploded a year after its official release. So we had to restart the whole cycle of promotions, and in the end we were touring almost four years for that album."

Not that Ferro's complaining.

"Even more than the success or money — or whatever you can get from this — the greatest thing is the life experience. It's been 10 years of seeing the world and meeting people, and getting to do it together with your friends."

bill@csindy.com

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