Lacuna Coil - Shallow Life
Century Media
Pop Metal
12 songs (48:08)
Release year: 2009
Lacuna Coil, Century Media
Reviewed by Goat
Major event

Metal writers usually declare time to turn on the heavy sarcasm when Lacuna Coil have a new album out. All the old insults get dragged out... they play catchy music, for a start! After coming from the underground, they went all poppy! Girls like them! Yuck! Well, the knives will definitely be out for Shallow Life, a concept album, what’s more, about the shallowness of celebrity culture and superficial lifestyles. And what could be a better musical conveyance of this message than a set of Pop Metal tunes that make Paradise Lost’s middle period look frostbitten and grim in comparison? Being fair to the band, however, Shallow Life has much in its favour. For a start, the Nu-Metal traces of Karmacode are pretty much absent here, the popKorn bass replaced with the usual backing rumble, a more Rock-based approach arising that comes through loud and clear on first single Spellbound, even to the extent of guitar solos, which I’m sure was the last thing people were expecting. In simple terms, this is a throwback to the Comalies sound in more than one way, albeit with less memorable songs.

That’s my only major problem with Shallow Life, really, the fact that even after quite a few listens there is little that stands out. I’m sure we all remember the first time we heard the glorious and uplifting likes of Swamped or Heaven’s A Lie, the surprise when we excavated into the band’s past and discovered the wonderful Unleashed Memories album in its entirety, heck, even Our Truth was an excellent, excellent song. Whilst there is surprising variety on Shallow LifeWide Awake’s laid-back ballad, the slightly disconcerting heaviness of album opener I Survive, the Alt Metal of The Maze – and a cartload of catchy choruses, there is no standout that will do for the band what those heady wails of Swamped did. Still, all will have their own favourites and there are really no poor tracks throughout, the general formula of Depeche Mode meets Paradise Lost working well for the band and leading to a set of classy, well-written tracks that could all be future singles.

As you’d expect, Cristina (no damn ‘h’ in it, as her MySpace states) Scabbia is the main attraction here. From the first song to the last, her voice is as excellent as ever, and with the same emotional punch that elevates Lacuna Coil above the competition. Fine, there’s less of the wonderful Middle-Eastern wails that have been used to such spine-chilling effect in the past, but she’s still as lovable as ever. I’m also going to make myself some enemies and say that I don’t find Andrea Ferro’s vocals that bad - anyone that enjoys Paradise Lost’s clean vocals should recognise the main influence, and whilst his taking the lead on The Maze will annoy some, all in all his duets with Cristina are as good as ever they were, take that as you will.

If I had to pigeonhole Shallow Life, I’d declare it better than Karmacode but just below Comalies. Those wary of listening after early reports mentioned dance and rock influences being introduced can rest easy, this is hardly a sell-out in any way shape or form since Lacuna Coil have been influenced by the more radio-friendly world for years now. I was, frankly, shocked to see how the mainstream Metal magazines have turned on the band in the UK at least, criticising them for the very things that they praised a few years ago and scoring Shallow Life as being worse than Karmacode when it’s a distinctly superior album. As much as I’d like Lacuna Coil to return to their earlier sound and take influence from Dead Can Dance rather than Depeche Mode, pushing Cristina’s voice to its limits and truly doing something fantastic with their music, the Italians have chosen a more commercial path to walk; judging Shallow Life on what it is rather than what I want it to be, it’s a fine album, full of typical Lacuna Coil catchiness that fans of Comalies and Karmacode will snap up. Few surprises to be found here – really, anyone expecting anything different should ask themselves why.

Killing Songs :
I Survive, Not Enough, I’m Not Afraid, I Like It, The Pain, Spellbound, Unchained, Shallow Life
Goat quoted 75 / 100
Other albums by Lacuna Coil that we have reviewed:
Lacuna Coil - Black Anima reviewed by Goat and quoted 85 / 100
Lacuna Coil - Broken Crown Halo reviewed by Joel and quoted 82 / 100
Lacuna Coil - Dark Adrenaline reviewed by Cory and quoted 72 / 100
Lacuna Coil - Karmacode reviewed by Marty and quoted 80 / 100
Lacuna Coil - In a Reverie reviewed by Jay and quoted 80 / 100
To see all 8 reviews click here
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