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Some Bridges Are Worth Burning - 27%

Khull, October 16th, 2009

Its only logical progression at this point, really. Comalies marked the beginning of Lacuna Coil’s downward spiral into the abyss of mediocrity, although it certainly had redeeming factors – factors not present anywhere in Karmacode, and certainly nowhere in Shallow Life. I don’t happen across albums like this very often, but after repeated listens I simply cannot find a redeeming quality to this album. At best, Shallow Life manages to successfully bridge the gap between radio-rock and metal, but is this “success” worth praising? I certainly don’t think so.

Two months prior to the release of Shallow Life, Lacuna Coil released a single of the song Spellbound. It got reasonably positive feedback, and for good reason; it was a good song, very reminiscent of the Comalies sound, and perhaps even earlier, in many ways, including Cristina’s higher pitched vocals, Andrea’s singing actually being tolerable, and fairly interesting lyrics. So what’s the problem, you might ask? Spellbound is an enigma. Nowhere else on Shallow Life is a song as engaging, dynamic – it truly feels as if this song doesn’t belong here. Of the 12 tracks, it’s the only one deserving of the classification, “metal.” Except maybe Unchained, to a lesser extent.

The biggest fault with Shallow Life is the same problem plaguing so many of these pseudo-pop metal albums trying desperately to break into the American mainstream: They don’t go anywhere. Now, I’m not going to slam the verse->chorus song structures, but I will slam the deliberate lack of effort that is repeating the same exact movements for each section of a song. Pick any song present (I chose I Survive) and you’ll find a moderately interesting intro section, but soon after realize that the versus are 100% identical, as are the choruses; the only difference being lyrics (or not in chase of the chorus, but that’s to be expected, not faulted). To be quite honest, I feel like I’m merely listening to multiple iterations of the same song, one might even go as far as to say watered down versions of Spellbound.

After multiple listens I believe Shallow Life would be better off regarding itself as a mere rock album. Of the 12 tracks, only Spellbound and Unchained manage to convince me otherwise, and those don’t make for persuasive odds. My sister made a brief appearance in my room while this was playing, and she stopped to ask when Creed picked up a female singer. I laughed at the comparison, but I also had to wonder about the validity of such a statement. A flimsy bridge has existed between the genres of alternative hard rock and heavy metal, but it’s usually coming from the former’s side of the canyon. I fear with Shallow Life, the latter’s side has finally decided to reach out and reinforce this bridge. This isn’t an avenue I particularly enjoy the thought of existing, but I suppose some things are inevitable.

If fans of the aforementioned hard rock genres manage to find their way to this review, then I suggest you check out Shallow Life. I suspect fans of that style of music will appreciate it, and although I question as to why anyone would willingly spin either Shallow Life or Karmacode for enjoyment, I suspect it can also lead these newcomers to discover metal in earnest. Like I keep saying, Spellbound, and Unchained to a lesser extent, take the listener back to the days of Comalies, and even a little earlier. They offer a glimpse of what metal has the potential of being without the dangers of inaccessibility or extremity. The thing you, the listener, should ask yourself is thus: Do hard rock bands incorporating barebones traces of metal into their music do it better than metal bands incorporating massive amounts of hard rock influences into their own music? I, for one, would like to know.