Lacuna Coil - Shallow Life
When Lacuna Coil are mentioned, most people tend to remember one name, Christina Scabbia. Is it unfair that she is the most talked about member of the Italian 6-piece? Probably. Would they have the same amount of success if Miss Scabbia wasn’t present? Defiantly not. She posses the vocal talent within this gothic metal band and although sex appeal is not a main concern of metal bands, Christina Scabbia certainly oozes it. Without her beautifully, eerie vocals, Lacuna Coil would be like an apple pie without the fruit, devoid of substance and less satisfying on the whole.
Shallow Life sees Lacuna Coil with the same set up as before. Christina Scabbia and Andrea Ferro sharing the vocal duties, Marco Coti Zelati on Bass and keyboard, Cristiano Migliore and Marco “Maus” Biazzi on guitars and Cristiano “Criz” Mozzati on drums. Lacuna Coil roped in producer Don Gilmore for this album, the man responsible for Linkin Park’s “Hybird Theory” and “Meteora”. Unfortunately this may have been a mistake. Gilmore may have guided Linkin Park to the mainstream of rock with two amazing albums, but unfortunately the elements that made Linkin Park work so well do not work as well with Lacuna Coil. The songs are more melodic than they were before and overall the album has a more generic feel, something that is not best suited to Coil‘s brand of Goth Metal sound. Another problem is that Linkin Park had two good vocalists, each with a unique technique and style. Lacuna Coil however have one amazing vocalist and another who although is mediocre, doesn’t seem to understand that shouting all the way through an album is not acceptable, especially if you are going to do so in the same monotonous tone.
So what’s good about this album? Well some songs on this album are indeed very good and seems to be the heavier tracks that provide the listener with the most joy. The old school Lacuna Coil isn’t represented much on this album, but the tracks that are similar to there back catalogue are indeed the best ones. “Survive” in particular being one of the highlights of an otherwise, mainly safe and for some part, lacklustre album. With its heavy riffs, beautifully crafted background noises from what sound like demented children of the playground and vocals from both Scabbia and Ferro that actually mesh quite well, this track is defiantly the strongest of the bunch. “I Wont Tell You” is again a heavier track that sound more like the old Lacuna Coil that their loyal followers love and again the weighty riffs and Ferro not irritating the listener, all means that so far, so good. However being the first tracks of the album, they should be a sure sign of things to come, but unfortunately there not. From track numbers two until eight, tracks range from mediocre to bad to awful.
Tracks such as “Not Enough” and “I’m Not Afraid” aren’t anything particularly special, with Ferro’s vocals gradually getting more frustratingly monotonous as the album continues on. Migliore and Biazzi’s guitar work doesn’t really show much technical ability they have with their instruments and the whole the tracks are saved by Scabbia’s beautifully eerie vocals. Then we come to the awful. Scabbia’s vocal talent couldn’t even save “I Like It” and it is doubtful that anyone but the creators are going to appreciate this song. With its upbeat lyrics, on top of a backdrop of gloomy guitars, this track lacks any substance and indeed any originality. “Underdog” and “The Pain” also suffer from lack of imagination and creativity, making listening to this album increasingly difficult, due to the lack of a) Heavy Metal based songs that Lacuna Coil so brilliantly do and b) due to the repetitive focus on long winded choruses rather than tracks as a whole. By now the boredom has set in and Lacuna Coil’s 2002 effort “Comalies” is poised, ready to replace “Shallow Life”.
Track 8 then springs into life and although this does have the mainstream rock feel to it, it is far better an effort than most songs previous to this. “Spellbound” is set to be the first release from “Shallow Life” and will most probably get them some attention from the mainstream rock audiences, with its strong choruses riff and harmonious tune, displaying that the more melodic tracks on “Shallow Life” aren’t all bad.
“The Maze” another of the heavier tracks on the album, will appease the old Lacuna Coil faithful, with its heavy hooks and Scabbia and Ferro again combining to good effect for the most part, the song could have been better however if the heavier parts lasted for longer periods and the main bridge of the song not being as Ferro orientated I.e. less bellowing. “Shallow Life” and “Wide Awake” are defiantly the most melodic tracks on the album, with both equally being as forgettable as the next. “Unchained” however is not forgettable but for the wrong reasons. Ferro again shouting into the wind, Scabbia doesn’t even manage to save this as she just adds to the disappointment with screechy vocals, whilst the rest of the band seem to have given up on metal and just seem to strum their instruments in hope of noise coming out.
Lacuna Coil have defiantly sold out on this album. Opting for a safe and conventional rock album, instead of their usual harmonious, metal groove that has seen them build such a loyal following from their EP release in 1998. “Shallow Life” may gain some new fans with this album, but instead of the dedicated metal goers they mainly attracted before, Lacuna Coil will pick up the Linkin Park fans that have been waiting with baited breath for something like this to appear, since their old band disappeared. The problem is though, that this is no “Hybrid Theory”, so even those fans may be disappointed. Heavier tracks on this album do however show that although Lacuna Coil may not have lost some of their original magic and appeal forever. Changes however do need to be made. Don Gilmore needs to go for a start and Lacuna Coil need to get back to their Goth metal roots. Please come back soon Lacuna Coil, we miss you already.