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Lacuna Coil - "Shallow Life" (CD)

Lacuna Coil - "Shallow Life" CD cover image

"Shallow Life" track listing:

1. Survive
2. I Won't Tell You
3. Not Enough
4. I'm Not Afraid
5. I Like It
6. Underdog
7. The Pain
8. Spellbound
9. Wide Awake
10. The Maze
11. Unchained
12. Shallow Life

Reviewed by on April 26, 2009

"The band has made sure that each song has a distinct personality without abandoning the sound they've become known for."

Italian gothic metal outfit Lacuna Coil received a bit of criticism for their previous album, "Karmacode" in 2006, but has bounced back with a fantastic new album this year in the form of "Shallow Life." The record features some of the band's best work to date and while not quite as good as "Comalies," it should please long-time fans and help the band gain new ones.

"Survive" is the first song on the record, and encompasses everything that Lacuna Coil does best - melodic guitars and vocals, heavy guitars, and interesting musicianship. It opens with a good melodic riff before entering into an almost nu-metal vibe with the following part. Don't let that worry you however, as it isn't a main part of the song and works well anyway, giving different depths to the song. All in all, it's a great opener and leads nicely into next song, "I Won't Tell You." "I Won't Tell You" is definitely different from "Survive," but it rocks, and it rocks hard. It has more of an attitude than the preceding song, and seems destined to become a live staple in the future. Like most of the band's catalog, it's pretty short and sweet and gets the job done. The contrasting vocals from Cristina Scabbia and Andrea Ferro are working with full force on this song and continue to do so throughout the album.

The great thing about "Shallow Life" is that the band has made sure that each song has a distinct personality without abandoning the sound they've become known for, which is a hard thing to do. Every time a song seems like it will be a re-hash of another, Lacuna Coil shocks you by turning the tables and making sure it sounds as fresh, interesting, and at times, as fun as possible.

One of my personal favorite songs on the album was the lead single, "Spellbound," which opens with a winding and memorable riff before exploding into a full on rocker with a catchy chorus and exciting tempo throughout. Like I said before, it follows the band's pattern of keeping their songs short and to the point, and that's what makes it such a good choice for a single.

The interesting thing about "Shallow Life" is that it was produced by Don Gilmore, who has previously worked with the likes of Good Charlotte, Duran Duran and Avril Lavigne. This didn't sound like a promising choice at first, but Lacuna Coil has retained their trademark sound, and while they may get a little light at times on the album, they don't get too light. Worries about Lacuna Coil becoming more of a pop act can safely be put to rest with this record. Frankly, I don't think they could become a full on pop group if they wanted to, as they're too good at what they do.

All in all, "Shallow Life" is a truly excellent album that will keep fans happy, bring old fans who were turned off by "Karmacode" back, and make plenty of new fans with its release. Once again, it doesn't quite match up to "Comalies," but it certainly comes close, and is a great return for a band who have a lot going for them.

Highs: Fantastic musicianship and good vocal work keeps the album sounding refreshingly interesting with each listen.

Lows: Occasionally gets a little too mellow or dark for its own good, but never long enough to spoil a good song or lower the tone of the album.

Bottom line: A great album and one which will please fans of everything from full-on heavy metal to commercial rock.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)