Two and a half stars
Key Tracks: ‘Spellbound,’ ‘Not Enough’
With Shallow Life, Lacuna Coil is making its intentions very clear: They want more listeners, they want to tap into the burgeoning American fan base for bands like Avenged Sevenfold and Evanescence and this means moving into a more airplay-friendly sound. Produced by Don Gilmore (Linkin Park, Avril Lavigne), Lacuna Coil’s fifth album is moving further into the hard-rock territory they first tentatively explored on their previous record Karmacode. Here, the clutter of the last two albums has been cleaned up, riffs toned down, vocals set to pop out of the mix and it’s been given such spit and polish you can almost see your face in it. But in the process Lacuna Coil’s lost its very identity; in moving towards a more commercial sound they’re risking being buried in the clutter of alternative/pop-metal clones that litter the music business. Gone is the rawness of ”˜Swamped,’ the balladry of ”˜Heaven’s a Lie,’ instead you have electronic frills and inexplicable noises (sample the “la,la,la,” at the beginning of ”˜Survive,’ which sounds like homicidal chipmunks on acid or the static, hackle-raising drone on ”˜I Like It’). On the bright side, male vocalist Andrea Ferro’s voice loses its one-dimensionality and makes its presence felt; on the other hand Christina Scabbia vocal lines are heavy handed and bog down the sound while the rest of the band members are simply wasted. ”˜I Like It’ is a Madonna number gone horribly wrong while ”˜I’m Not Afraid’ has more than one shade of Linkin Park’s ”˜Numb’ (Don Gilmore, maybe?). But the album-saver and their next big hit is, without a doubt, ”˜Spellbound’ with its racing guitar lines and sing-along chorus, which is definitely going to be their next ”˜Heaven’s a Lie.’ For fans of the band who were hoping for a return to the Comalies era, it’s going to be a long and rather fruitless wait.