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Woohoo, another Lacuna Coil album. I've been waiting for that moment when the band ditches the artistic or symbolic album front cover mentality and goes for the money shot of Cristina Scabbia with a "come hither" look and sporting a tubetop. Guess I'll be waiting a little longer. Oh well.
This is one of those bands I haven't given up on when for all intents and purposes I should. If nothing else, then for mental health reasons. Yet I still can't help but feel a tinge of hope when Lacuna Coil is about to release a new album in that they might actually bring back the ambience of their early releases, or at the very least dish out something of high quality in whatever direction they're heading. Suffice to say, that didn't exactly occur and don't expect anything like their material a decade ago, but Dark Adreneline isn't a complete disaster.
Don Gilmore is back at on the producer's throne to make sure there's no shortage of electronic blips and general bombast to assault the senses. The guitars have a thicker and heavier tone than on Shallow Life, and the band members themselves seem a bit more energized this time around. Unlike all the hype and acclaim that I heard stating that this album was a return to their gothic roots, what the band actually did was morph aspects of Karmacode and Shallow Life into one new body of work. I know, two regrettable albums, and I'd expect two mutants breeding to produce a seven headed miscarriage, but in this case somehow the few good genes from each album hitched and formed into this affable critter. Still, it isn’t remotely something I’d praise from the highest rooftops, but the fact is that Dark Adrenaline could have been a far worse experience.
So what we have here is dark alternative rock spruced up with added heaviness to the guitars while avoiding Korn worship. If there's any hint of their early gothic sensibilities present, it's of the 'flamboyant' rather than 'haunting' angle. The songs have varying tempos and only one track meanders past five minutes, which is fine by me. I've read of people complaining about the short song lengths. Do you really want them stretched out to ten minutes each? Seriously, just pretend Dark Adrenaline is one big epic tune broken into twelve parts. Problem solved.
Cristina usually adds some new element to her singing on each album, and in this case it's what I dub the 'Canadian Caterwaul'. It's essentially her usual style of singing modified by Avril Lavigne's nasal whine, Alanis Morissette's histrionics and a hint of Geddy Lee circa Permanent Waves. It's an odd but interesting approach that actually works in small dosages, utilized most notably in "Intoxicated" and the chorus of "Upsidedown". Otherwise, she's her usual self except a bit more inclined to push her range than within the past couple of albums. Andrea still has some thick accent issues, but he's improved since Shallow Life and apparently the band agrees since his role in the band has grown drastically to the point where he is essentially the co-lead vocalist instead of a supporting player. It will most likely benefit their live gigs, but on CD he's still too much of an acquired taste to justify so much time in the spotlight. Personally I consider it a big mistake on the band's part to feature the guy so frequently. He just does not have an interesting vocal presence to warrant the amount of lines he gruffly spouts.
It's hard to pick a favorite track since there seems to be highlights and flaws in every song. For instance, "Against You" has killer verses abetted by an uptempo kickin' rhythm, but the chorus drags much of the fun and energy down like quicksand in a sandbox. That's pretty much how the entire album fares, veering between catchy verses marred by a dubious chorus and vice versa, or a sweet opening that droops into a substandard second half and so on. Their cover of "Losing My Religion" is interesting in that they reformatted the song to make it their own, which actually means the band restructured R.E.M.'s original to resemble their cover of Depeche Mode's "Enjoy The Silence". It's not surprising since "Enjoy The Silence" remains Lacuna Coil's best song in almost a decade. The final cut, "My Spirit" is another notable track in that it brings back a reasonable amount of their gothic accented past to end the album with, if nothing else, an acknowledgement of their roots. Still, there's nothing here that's a flat out ace track to play on heavy rotation.
I received this as a present on vinyl, and in retrospect my favorite aspect of this gift was discovering it possessed a funky designed picture disc within the cover sleeve. Dark Adrenaline is neither the ballyhooed return to form some fans proclaim, nor a steaming bowel eruption from a once respected band among the gothic metal circles. It just sort of wafts somewhere between the praise and spite, much like each individual track has its pluses and minuses. Not quite the dark adrenaline rush I was hoping for, yet not really expecting either.