Lacuna Coil
Shallow Life


3.0
good

Review

by Trey Spencer STAFF
April 14th, 2009 | 156 replies


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Some might not like another change in direction, but this one suits them better.

For the past few years Lacuna Coil has been a band in transition. The first signs of this transition were displayed on Comalies, but it wasn’t until Karamcode that it became blatantly obvious. Karmacode presented a band struggling to move beyond minor league success even if it meant losing their own individuality. It was an album that blatantly stole from nu metal and discarded much of what had made them previously appealing. Apparently the band didn’t achieve their desired results because Shallow Life continues their search for a more profitable identity but this time they’ve gone in a different, more logical, direction. Shallow Life finds the band dropping the nu metal of Karmacode and moving towards mainstream metal similar to Linkin Park’s current sound - only instead of a rapper Lacuna Coil have Cristina Scabbia and instead of a whiney emo-boy they have a tone-deaf Italian.

All jokes aside, it would be easy to focus on how the band continue to be too reliant on other bands’ techniques but to do so would be to sell this album short. Suffice it to say that they have definitely moved in a more mainstream direction, but that they have finally found their niche as well. A look at the band’s past should remind that they’ve never really had great riffs, powerful vocals (male vocals, anyway), or engaging atmospheres; they’ve only ever succeeded on the strength of Cristina’s voice (and looks) and a penchant for writing moderately catchy tunes, and those are the qualities emphasized on this album. That’s not to say that the band has totally moved away from heavier sections (as the opening to “I Survive” proves); it’s just that they’re now intermingled with melodic, unobtrusive riffs that take a back seat to strong choruses.

By focusing on the chorus as the apex of each song, the band has managed to create some of the strongest hooks of their career. It’s the strong choruses that save a few songs such as “I Like It” with its asinine lyrics and weak verses, and make them into something that’s still worth listening to. Another way the band have managed to accentuate their strengths is through the near-constant use of subtle keyboard melodies and sound effects. These stylish flourishes work in tandem with the guitar riffs and strong choruses to create songs that are memorable while still retaining the slightest edge. Of course, some may see these influences as shortcomings but they really have helped the band move forward.

The band’s actual shortcoming is the same one that they’ve had since their inception, the weak vocals of Andrea Ferro. Andrea still delivers his vocals the same way that he always has - in an uncontrolled, atonal shout that lacks any power or grace. In his defense he does sound better than on previous albums, but that probably has more to do with a larger budget to clean up his vocal deficiencies than any actual increase in ability. Having said that, the few times where he is allowed to take the spotlight with minimal musical accompaniment, such as on “This Maze”, he is absolutely terrible; apparently no amount of studio tricks can help him completely. Much less of a limitation is that the band is obviously still getting used to their new style, causing them to occasionally introduce awkward lyrics or musical sections but they’re never bad enough to kill a song.

Lacuna Coil’s shift into mainstream metal will probably be met with some backlash by long-time fans, but most of it will be completely unwarranted. The band has only ever been good at a few things and deciding to emphasize those elements is a completely logical step. This focus has resulted in a good collection of memorable songs that end up being an enjoyable listen. There will be obvious complaints about a lack of heavy riffs, gothic influences and whatever else they’ve discarded, but the fact remains that they weren’t good at those things in the first place. At the end of the day, this album might not be what the change-resistant fans wanted to hear but it was necessary and more importantly, they pull it off quite well.



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user ratings (264)
Chart.
2.7
average
other reviews of this album
quinny1989 (2.5)
...

fireaboveicebelow (3.5)
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Willie
Moderator
April 14th 2009


15977 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

It might still be streaming. If not I'm sure it has leaked and it will be released next Tuesday. I decided to post this now instead of next week because it's slow this week.

Digging: Necropoli - I

SylentEcho
April 14th 2009


1570 Comments


This band isn't too bad. Decent review.

Jom
Staff Reviewer
April 14th 2009


2676 Comments


Love the last sentence of the first paragraph. You would think after a few albums he'd have an ear for pitch, but I guess not.

Willie
Moderator
April 14th 2009


15977 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I thought that after their debut album they would just get rid of him. Before every album I hope to read that he was either kicked from the band or that he has just completed vocal lessons. Neither thing ever happens.

ninjuice
April 14th 2009


6760 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Hmm....well I definitely disagree about Ferro's vocals, and certainly hope I enjoy this more than you.
Looking at the "members also liked" reminds me yet again how useless it is.

Wizard
April 14th 2009


19407 Comments


I gave this a fair try and I wish I could see it from your perspective Willie. I just get so bored with stuff like this. I remember hearing Comalies and it had a few catchy tunes. I think I will just stick with looking for nude pics of Cristina Scabbia on the internet.

Good review.

Digging: Khonsu - Traveller

Willie
Moderator
April 14th 2009


15977 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I enjoyed it for what it is. It's not mindblowing or unique in any way, but it's good driving music and I think they can go far with this sound if they stick with it and fix the random issues. I was between a 3 and a 3.5 but went with the 3.

I think I will just stick with looking for nude pics of Cristina Scabbia on the internet.
You better share if you ever stumble across any. I have e-mail, last.fm, xbox live, whatever, just let me know!

This Message Edited On 04.14.09

Wizard
April 14th 2009


19407 Comments


I haven't been able to find : (

Phantom
April 14th 2009


8930 Comments


You coud ask Jim Root if he has any.


This Message Edited On 04.14.09

mariotroise
April 14th 2009


13 Comments


Poor girl. Nice review!

redfan
April 14th 2009


2 Comments


They just should be named "Lincuna Poil" after this album..

gaslightanthem
April 14th 2009


5209 Comments


eh?

Phantom
April 14th 2009


8930 Comments


Some songs sound similar to Linkin Park




This Message Edited On 04.14.09

Willie
Moderator
April 14th 2009


15977 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Yeah, I originally expanded beyond the one line at the end of the first paragraph but it started to feel like I was comparing them to Linkin Park too much and not really talking about the CD, so I took it all out.

Phantom
April 14th 2009


8930 Comments


I was just explaining to Kane cause I thought he didn't get redfan's post. Nothing to do with the review, it's good.


This Message Edited On 04.14.09

karina
April 14th 2009


165 Comments


05. I Like It


i think they were going for some irony here

fireaboveicebelow
April 14th 2009


6837 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

good review and I especially agree with this part

In his defense he does sound better than on previous albums, but that probably has more to do with a larger budget to clean up his vocal deficiencies than any actual increase in ability.
but other than that I don't get the linkin park comparison outside of the one song

gaslightanthem
April 14th 2009


5209 Comments


lacuna park

redfan
April 14th 2009


2 Comments


It's normal when you compare the album to Linkin Park especially when the band choose the same producer "Don Gilmore" , record at the same studio "NRG Studios" (Wikipedia) , use the same technique (though it's little poppier) , sound effects, and borrow a riff or two from them.

Willie
Moderator
April 14th 2009


15977 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

good review and I especially agree with this part

In his defense he does sound better than on previous albums, but that probably has more to do with a larger budget to clean
up his vocal deficiencies than any actual increase in ability.


but other than that I don't get the linkin park comparison outside of the one song

Thanks. Did you notice that I did some significant re-writes in order to minimize the amount of similarities and "key words" that
we had both used in our reviews?

This Message Edited On 04.14.09



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