Released: 2009, Century Media Records
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
Fans of Lacuna Coil’s last album, KARMACODE, will find plenty to revel in with the Italian band’s latest opus, SHALLOW LIFE. Chock full of the same hook-filled choruses and mid-tempo rockers that shot KARMACODE (and, to a lesser degree, its predecessor COMALIES) to big numbers, SHALLOW LIFE features twelve tracks that could easily find a place on modern rock radio playlists. Buoyed by the exotic vocals of Cristina Scabbia and her male counterpart, Andrea Ferro, this dynamic has served the band well for over a decade now and with decidedly un-metal über-producer Don Gilmore (Linkin Park, Avril Lavigne, Good Charlotte) behind the boards, expect SHALLOW LIFE to take Lacuna Coil even further away from their dark, Gothic roots and more towards the mainstream success offered up in North America.
The glossy sheen of Gilmore’s production really doesn’t waver too much from the slick touch that Waldemar Sorychta brought to Lacuna Coil’s previous six releases. SHALLOW LIFE still has that wide, rich sound fans have come to expect from the band with plenty of modern tweaks and tricks to fill the palette. Scabbia and Ferro add plenty of heft to “I’m Not Afraid” and “The Pain,” working off each other’ strengths and creating instantly memorable vocal melodies for fans to grab on to. Scabbia really delivers a powerhouse performance on “Unchained,” going from soaring wails to a deeper, throaty delivery. The band hasn’t lost its sense for writing a killer single, either, as the butt-shaking groove of “I Won’t Tell You” and “I Survive” attest. Wisely kicking off the record with these two songs, the rest of SHALLOW LIFE manages to keep the momentum alive with strong tracks that never reduce to “filler.” Fans of the band’s older, darker sound will really enjoy “Wide Awake,” a ballad sure to find its way into the iPod of many a young Goth girl. Plenty of guitar crunch is served up on “The Maze” by Cristiano Migliore and Marco Biazzi and some fleeting solos even make their way into “Spellbound” and a bluesy ripper on “Unchained.”
Lacuna Coil continues its rise to North American acceptance on SHALLOW LIFE and with the band’s position firmly rooted as Century Media Records’ golden child, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that the recording of this record was spared no expense. Holed up in Los Angeles with a producer whose track record has turned many records to gold and platinum status, Lacuna Coil delivers in spades. SHALLOW LIFE is more immediately accessible than KARMACODE was with songs that are to the point and lyrics that drop the teenage girl poetic blathering. Don’t be surprised to see Lacuna Coil linked to some major label acts on the touring circuit during the cycle for SHALLOW LIFE. They deserve the success and this record proves they have some staying power—more than can be said for many of the bands they will likely open for, unfortunately.
KILLER KUTS: “I Won’t Tell You,” “I’m Not Afraid,” “Underdog,” “The Pain,” “Spellbound,” “Unchained”