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I was a late arrival to becoming a fan of Lacuna Coil -- in fact, I had never heard of them until 2007 when a friend of mine told me to start listening to them. She mentioned them so much, that one day I decided to give them a listen on internet radio. The first song came up two days later and I literally turned around and went "Whoa! What is this?" -- the song playing was "Daylight Dancer", off the Comalies album. I was hooked and had to listen to more. I became an instant fan.
Now fast forward to 2009 when Lacuna Coil released the first album since I became a fan of theirs, and Shallow Life shows the band working with producer Don Gilmore, who worked with Pearl Jam, Linkin Park and Avril Lavigne. This already sounds like a train wreck, as everyone knows what happened with "Minutes To Midnight" and every Pearl Jam album after the first one, but I, being a fan, decided to give it a shot anyways.
Just pop this thing in and I guarantee you the name "Don Gilmore" is written all over this album like a bad rash. There is a disturbingly high Linkin Park feeling in the first two songs... The third song, "Not Enough", is the first one that actually sounds a bit like older Lacuna Coil, but it's missing something that made Lacuna Coil great on previous albums.
If you need some clarification, pick up an older Lacuna Coil album. Any of them. There will be one song that you will find yourself singing two days later in a grocery store. This album doesn't have one single memorable song, and that's where it starts going wrong.
Another bone of contention I have is that Cristina Scabbia is singing much less on this album, and her range isn't tested as much as on previous albums. Put a song by Coil called "Distant Sun" and you'll see what I mean by how much of a range Cristina is capable of singing. So why aren't her talents used as much on this album? Andrea Ferro is singing much more, which is kind of like calling up your second-string quarterback when your star QB is standing on the sideline begging to win the game with 2 minutes to play in the fourth. Most of Coil's songs aren't as much about the drumming or bass, so there's no harm, no foul in that regard.
Songs like "I like It" and "Underdog" have a Karmacode feel to them -- which was initially what I heard was the idea behind this album, to be more like their most successful album. This isn't a bad thing -- if the entire album had been like this, I probably would have been like "Okay, this is the new sound of the band". After which, Shallow Life tries to go with an Arabic sound, and the best example of this has to be in the opening riff of "The Pain", but then Cristina's singing coupled with the rhythm sounds like Avril Lavigne's "Complicated". WHY?
The one saving grace is the 9th song, "Wide Awake". This song sounds like something that could have been released in the early 2000s, with it's haunting beauty and rhythm. This one is worth a download for all classic Coil fans. The last three tracks sound way out of place for this band, and by far is a major let down.
The entire album itself is a strong deviation from the hauntingly beautiful gothic style that made them so cool. If Lacuna Coil goes down this path for the sake of selling a few thousand extra albums, they may find fans wondering what happened to them and eventually leaving to find other good gothic metal.
In conclusion, if you absolutely MUST have every album, you probably should pick this one up. A lot of metal fans are talking about skipping this one and I can't entirely blame them. This album is actually very forgettable and I know that Cristina Scabbia and the band are capable of doing a lot better. What the band should do is take a copy of Comalies and Unleashed Memories to the studio and say "The next album is going to return to these roots" for the sake of all the Coil fans that want to hear better. We deserve better.