2 I Won't Tell You
3 Not Enough
4 I'm Not Afraid
5 I Like It
7 The Pain
9 Wide Awake
10 The Maze
12 Shallow Life
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Lacuna Coil were at their artistic and commercial peak with their 2002 release Comalies – the biggest selling record in Century Media's history, apparently. They got the mix of gothic rock and alternative metal spot on, but it still really wasn't an album that was going to claim any commercial radio-play. Fast-forward to their long-awaited follow-up four years later, Karmacode, and the band had a drastic shift in sound. The gothic metal had largely gone away, the synths and keys were barely apparent, and what they'd delivered was a mostly so-so hard rock album which, according to the band, was their attempt at being "heavier", expressing their new-found influences such as Meshuggah and Korn. What they called influence translated into nothing more than down-tuning their guitars which, unfortunately, came out sounding more like Korn and nothing like Meshuggah. Besides, stating your influence as Korn is not a thing you want to do in the new millennium and, resultantly, the album was full of generic down-tuned guitars, nu-metal riffs, and chock full of Korn's trademarked clunky bass.
The sound on the band's 5th LP, Shallow Life, isn't too far off from their previous album, stylistically speaking. Opening up in a flurry of double bass and that down-tuned riffing they've now seemingly adopted, "I Survive" is one of the highlights and heaviest tracks on the record, but listening on, it unfortunately seems to be a peak too early.
The first quarter of the album features several songs that stand out as possible hits. “I Won't Tell You” has a lot of radio-play potential, and I'm sure they'll release it as a future single, and the aforementioned album opener is among the strongest tracks on the album, but weirdly “Spellbound” has been chosen as the band's first promo and is a poor choice as a single. It is a plain, generic, nothing-to-offer duffer, but if you've heard it already, it's a good indication of basically what you can expect to find on the rest of this record.
Using producer Don Gilmore, the man responsible for the first two Linkin Park records, maybe wasn't such a good idea as his influence can be heavily heard throughout the record. I wouldn't be surprised if Linkin Park had grounds for a lawsuit as on “I'm not Afraid” you'll be singing the lyrics to Linkin Park's “Runaway” as they both feature several almost identical elements and the same chorus and vocal melody.
Shallow Life is ultimately a straight-forward hard rock/nu-metal album with a pretty face on it, and there's not much here that deviates from the same repeated hard rock formula. The record can become a chore to listen to as a whole, and it falls into the trap of repeating lines far too often (repeating the title of the song over and over does not equal hooks and is a lazy excuse for a chorus) which inevitably ends up getting into your head for all the wrong reasons.
Lacuna Coil have come to the point in their career where they've now crossed the metal rubicon, and it doesn't look like they'll ever return to the sound of their glory days. It's a wonder why the band ever changed up their style in the first place, the phrase, "If it's not broke, don't fix it," comes to mind, but it doesn't look like the band will ever revert back to their old sound, so we may as well embrace what they've become. While they have delivered a fairly formulaic album, at least is it is still a fairly enjoyable one.