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38 of 43 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good but with some faults
I'm a new Lacuna Coil fan within the past two years. I picked up their back catalog and really enjoyed "Comalies" and "Karamacode." It took a bit longer, but I think "Karmacode" is a better (musically) designed album. A lot of my favorites come from "Comalies."

I can understand why 'old school' Lacuna Coil fans would dislike "Shallow Life" -- it definately...
Published on April 29, 2009 by Don

versus
34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed it, but the critics have a point.
It seems that Lacuna Coil have suffered a backlash with Shallow Life -- just read some of these reviews. I can see where the critics are coming from. Shallow Life has a much smoother, more mainstream production than Karmacode. The music is much less tumultuous, the vocals are much louder in the mix, as in typical radio-friendly rock. Karmacode certainly sounds more...
Published on November 7, 2009 by Angry Mofo


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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed it, but the critics have a point., November 7, 2009
This review is from: Shallow Life (Audio CD)
It seems that Lacuna Coil have suffered a backlash with Shallow Life -- just read some of these reviews. I can see where the critics are coming from. Shallow Life has a much smoother, more mainstream production than Karmacode. The music is much less tumultuous, the vocals are much louder in the mix, as in typical radio-friendly rock. Karmacode certainly sounds more interesting.

But the band's songs haven't really gotten any worse -- it's just that the production exposes the weaknesses that were always there. For all that Karmacode is a good album, it has all of the same problems. First, Lacuna Coil are not terribly proficient songwriters. They don't really write memorable hooks or riffs, and they rarely play solos that go beyond following the vocal line. They're good at creating a loud, roiling sound, where the drums crash and the guitars have this metallic reverberating growl, and the synthesizers are sort of swirling around everything else, but they tend to repeat this approach on most of their songs. Even Karmacode has a bunch of tracks that sound very similar. Really, the main attraction of Lacuna Coil is the remarkable vocal interplay between Andrea Ferro and Cristina Scabbia, rather than the music.

Shallow Life is no different in this respect. Honestly, I can't really differentiate the music in "I'm Not Afraid," "Underdog," "Spellbound" and many other songs. However, the radio-friendly production actually leads Lacuna Coil to branch out a bit by trying out some dance elements on two songs, "I Won't Tell You" and "I Like It." The dance elements are very light, consisting mostly of steady 4/4 beats with high-hats, as well as more synth-oriented music and "diva-like" vocals (Cristina sounds a lot like KMFDM's countless industrial divas on these songs), but they do add energy to the album. Goth or metal purists may be upset by this, but I quite enjoy it; I think the coolest goth and industrial bands were always the ones that had a secret dance fascination. But anyway, these two songs liven up the album a lot, and contribute the catchiest choruses.

The other weakness of Lacuna Coil is their lyrics. On Karmacode, the voices tended to blend into the loud, stormy music, so it didn't really matter what they were singing. Unfortunately, on Shallow Life, the production emphasizes the vocals. You can see the general trend from the song titles -- they write vague fight-songs with names like "I'm Not Afraid," "Underdog," "The Pain," and "Unchained." The songs have positive messages about overcoming your problems and finding the strength to push on, but there's a lot of awkward repetition, like the call-and-response in "I Won't Tell You," where Andrea first yells, "How can I tell you you're falling apart? Open your eyes if you want to survive! How can I tell you your love is a lie?" and then Cristina answers, "Don't ever tell me I'm falling apart, don't ever tell me I will not survive, don't ever tell me this love is a lie." Not really top material.

The smooth production seems to suggest that they're going for mainstream appeal, which means that all the songs are in English. Karmacode had one song in their native Italian, and it actually sounded awesome. I think they ought to do that more. I mean, every Ladytron album has a couple of songs in Bulgarian, and it works fine for them. I've no clue what they're saying, but at least it sounds cool.

Fortunately, at least the vocals in Shallow Life are strong. Some people don't like Andrea's voice; it's true that it's much more limited than Cristina's, but I think they contrast well together, although it would be nice to hear him branch out beyond his rasping shout. On the bonus track "Oblivion," he tries a slightly more relaxed, melodic approach, and it sounds good. Why doesn't he do that more often?

I should also mention that Shallow Life greatly improves toward the end, which is a pleasant surprise. "Unchained" adds much-needed variety with an unexpected guitar solo. It sounds very good, in a classic-rock kind of way (I thought of Wall-era David Gilmour), and makes me wish that their guitarist had a little more room to play without vocals on top. "Shallow Life" is an excellent ballad -- the piano is effective and there's also a sort of bouncy electronic break occasionally appearing in the background that provides an interesting diversion after all the straightforward guitar distortion on the album. This song also puts some cool effects on Andrea's voice, making it sound less harsh and squawking. Perhaps he should look into using a vocoder. Cristina rounds things out with a movingly weary vocal performance, which is very welcome after all the generically-peppy statements of defiance.

But, yeah, I do miss the more ornate, baroque side of Karmacode -- songs like "Within Me" or "Without Fear" that had more of a dignified classical tinge among all the angry rock. That side does not appear on Shallow Life at all, except possibly for the title track. This may be the reason why many reviewers get an impression of "shallowness" from the album. The two dance-inflected tracks are the closest that Shallow Life comes to a Big Single (the last two songs are the best, but they're not really anthems), but their lyrics and straightforward music are less interesting than the dramatic build-up of "Within Me."

The worst thing the album does is to highlight weaknesses that the band already had, which is usually what happens with a more streamlined production. It is, however, enjoyable, and in small ways, it even tries a few new things. Hopefully the good parts of the album indicate some kind of new direction.
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38 of 43 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good but with some faults, April 29, 2009
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This review is from: Shallow Life (Audio CD)
I'm a new Lacuna Coil fan within the past two years. I picked up their back catalog and really enjoyed "Comalies" and "Karamacode." It took a bit longer, but I think "Karmacode" is a better (musically) designed album. A lot of my favorites come from "Comalies."

I can understand why 'old school' Lacuna Coil fans would dislike "Shallow Life" -- it definately continues the trend from "Karmacode." But with that said, I Like It. (See what I did there?) :)

My complaints are that the songs are far too brief -- 4 minutes is a long song on this album -- and there are several duds (The Pain, Underdog) that do nothing for me and all sound alike. But there's plenty to like, including I Won't Tell You, Not Enough, I Like It, and Spellbound.

I've no idea why the male vocalist gets so much air time; Christina is the reason you listen to Lacuna Coil. I don't hate the male vocals -- they provide a nice contrast -- but come on, with her voice I shouldn't have to wade 30+ seconds into a song before she comes on board and essentially "saves" the track.

If you're a new fan and liked "Karmacode" you'll probably like "Shallow Life." Everyone else needs to come to grip with the fact that the band -- and their sound -- is evolving.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Shallow life, shallow album, May 25, 2009
This review is from: Shallow Life (Audio CD)
The good points... Andrea has never sounded better (Christina is her usual hypnotic self) and the production is crystal clear.

However, the songs lack substance. Many albums require multiple spins to reveal the underlying nuances. Shallow life doesn't have any. What you hear is what you get.

There are some interesting ideas and vocals in typical Lacuna Coil style, but as they move headlong to a more radio-friendly style, the short durations do not allow the songs to breath nor develop. One can hear the goth style trying to emerge, but there is no time for twists nor reflection.

The songwriting is simply not there. This is not one of Lacuna coil's finer hours.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Difficult to sink my teeth into, May 1, 2009
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This review is from: Shallow Life (Audio CD)
I just wanted to provide a bit of a contrasting opinion, many reviewers seem to suggest (and dislike) that this album follows in the tracks of Karmacode. I began listening to Lacuna Coil with the release of Comalies, and went so far as to acquire their previous albums too. They quickly became one of my favorites. With the release of Karmacode, they became firmly rooted as my favorite; thats right, I liked Karmacode, I liked the "nu metal" sound they chose for it, I think it is their best album thus far.

If, indeed, Shallow Life were in the same vein as Karmacode, I should end up liking it too. It isn't, and I don't.

Thats not to say it isn't at least worth a listen, and a few of the tracks shine out above the rest, I Survive, Spellbound, and if you spring for the extended edition, the extra track Oblivion does too. These are the best of the album, unfortunately, they aren't quite up to Karmacode standards.

There are other tracks that are a good enough listen, but hardly striking the way Lacuna Coil's music has been to me in the past.

Where are the problems? Like others have said, it seems uninspired and often repetitive, and I'm very disappointed with the decision to move Andrea into a more central vocal role. The major draw for me with Lacuna Coil has always been Christina Scabbia, and seeing her relegated to such a limited supporting position in this album is far from satisfying.

I still hold out hope for the future, and I'll still buy Lacuna Coil's next album, but some words of advice for them; feel free to be as poetic with the lyrics as you want, dump the pop producer and go back to Sorychta.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A disappointment, and I loved Karmacode, October 2, 2009
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This review is from: Shallow Life (Audio CD)
I've been a fan of Lacuna Coil since their debut EP, and thought their 2006 album Karmacode was probably their best release to date, so I was very much looking forward to the band's follow-up album - 2009's Shallow Life. I was dying to know if the band would return to their gothic metal roots, continue the head-banging nu-metal direction of Karmacode, or opt for something totally different.

The answer to all three is yes...sort of. Shallow Life is a mish-mash of styles. There are classic sounding songs like "Survive" and "Spellbound" that could have fit on Comalies or In a Reverie. Then there are more modern sounding tracks like "I'm Not Afraid" and "I Won't Tell You" that carry on in the direction of Karmacode. And then there are songs like "I Like It" and "Underdog" that don't sound like Lacuna Coil at all. Were these suggested by their new producer Don Gilmore in an attempt to recreate his work with Linkin Park and Avril Lavigne? Whatever the reason, they come close to totally derailing Shallow Life, killing the album's early momentum and just leaving me cold. There are a couple of stronger tracks towards the end ("Spellbound" and the title track), but the album as a whole seems very uneven and completely unfocused.

I like at least half of the songs on Shallow Life, and love one or two ("Not Enough" and "I'm Not Afraid"), but this is the first Lacuna Coil album I've been less than thrilled with. I think it's way too early to write the band off, and they're clearly talented and driven enough to bounce back from a lackluster album. I just hope that happens sooner rather than later.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I like it, but I understand it is not the usual "Coil", June 27, 2009
This review is from: Shallow Life (Audio CD)
This was the first Lacuna Coil CD I heard, and from what I've read it is a slight departure from the sound the older Coil fans have been used to. When Amy Lee and Evanescence hit the big time in 2003, some fans of Lacuna Coil compared Lee's voice to LC's Cristina Scabbia and insisted Lee was a poor imitation. Actually, I find Scabbia's voice to be more reminiscent of that of Tara Slone of the Canadian band Joydrop.

Some tracks on "Shallow Life" reminded me a bit of Linkin Park, especially "I'm Not Afraid". So to me, this Lacuna Coil CD sounds like a hybrid of Joydrop, Linkin Park, and whatever new elements Lacuna Coil bring to the table for me.

I don't know if "Shallow Life" is original enough for me to become a Lacuna Coil fan, but it is intriguing enough for me to probably check out some of their earlier work to chart their musical development. If their sound on their previous records is less reminiscent of other artists and more unique in its own way, I will probably enjoy Lacuna Coil even more.

Cristina Scabbia has a great rock voice in an industry that doesn't feature too many great female vocalists. She and Tara Slone could almost be interchangeable, though their material varies quite a bit.

Want to hear one of the best female vocalists in rock? Check out Suze DeMarchi's work with the Australian band Baby Animals.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Kind of Blah, December 16, 2009
This review is from: Shallow Life (Audio CD)
I think this Shallow Life album is Boring. Now let me say that Lacuna Coil's gothic rock electronica edge has pulled me in along with Scabbia's voice. The last album Karma Code was awesome and I also really enjoyed Comalies. As for the new stuff and this album? When I saw them in concert with All That Remains, no one seemed to cheer that much when one of their new songs were played. This new album seems to goes nowhere and I really can't get myself to listen to it anymore. It seems like the songs attempt to build up to somewhat of a peak of a vocal or musical intensity and yet they go back to a drab and mediocre sounding chorus or a droning guitar line. I can't even seem to get interested in what the lyrics are about because the songs ramble on and I found myself skipping tracks halfway through. This does not have the intensity and the raw power of the other albums.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not even another Karmacode!, April 29, 2009
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This review is from: Shallow Life (Audio CD)
I really wanted to like this since I am a LC fan, but I have to agree with many of you other reviewers that it isn't going in the right direction. There is something that is a little bland and yes SHALLOW about this! Many people reviewing this seem to think that Karmacode wasn't as good as Lacuna Coil's earlier albums, but I personally thought it was a very strong album and Shallow Life doesn't have nearly the punch of Karmacode. Karmacode did mark a shift in the sound of the band, but a positive one in my estimate. Still hard and crunchy, but a little more accessible. This release is a step backwards if you ask me. I think they are trying too hard to achieve commercial success here and are compromising themselves in the process. I agree with the reviewer that stated that Linkin Park and LC are totally different animals and what works for Linkin Park's production isn't going to work for LC. For god's sake the last song even sounds like Linkin Park!

If they stay on this path then that's it for me. It's too bad because I think they had another Karmacode or better album left in them. What makes this even more of a letdown is that it took 3 years for them to produce this! It could have been done in a week they way it sounds to me. I give it 3 stars because it doesn't suck; it just doesn't inspire me the way Karmacode did. Somewhere along the line they are getting some bad advice or something. I really hate to be harsh since I was so stoked; maybe my expectations were too high since Karmacode really moved me. I waited 3 years for this which makes it more of a letdown. Oh well, maybe it will grow on me over time and I'll come back and jack up this rating.....
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17 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Something Old Meets Something New, April 21, 2009
This review is from: Shallow Life (Audio CD)
Lacuna Coil have long been one of bands dragging fans of the Rock scene into the Metal scene and so far every release has been quality. Shallow Life continues to show this band is far from their prime and even adds some more aggressive that went unseen on Karmacode. Still lots of melody and I am happy to hear that Andrea has more vocal parts contrasting Cristina beautiful as ever tones.

Right off the get go Lacuna Coil kick things off with an eerie bit of female vocalizing and acoustics that explodes into a barrage of riffing and pummeling double bass on "Survive". Right off the start you know this album is going to be much heavier then their previous release. Cristina's vocals are amazing as usual with her hitting some impressive notes in the opening tracks insanely addictive chorus.

I had thought maybe Andrea just had a bigger part in the opening pack but in the second track he is heard again having a big part of the vocals during the Bride and Chorus. The third track "Not Enough" opens with Christina putting down some incredible vocals and turns into easily one of the most emotional duets between Cristina and Andrea in a long time. By this point I am remembering Lacuna Coil's earlier works when both vocalists had more of a center role where as Cristina had taken the reigns on the past couple recordings.

"I'm Not Afraid" brings back the attitude from the earlier tracks and even has Andrea belting out some yells, again reminiscent of his vocals on earlier albums. This is another track that has a chorus so catchy you'll find yourself singing along after a listen or two. "I Like It" is a very upbeat track and since their debut this is the first track in their history that really has a hint of pop rock to it, this could easily be a single, music video to support the album and bring in new fans.

Then as to say "We aren't pop!" the next track erupts with some hard riffs and bombastic drumming and still both the male and female vocals continue to run off one another with this time having Andrea taking charge on the chorus. The seventh track on the album opens with some low creepy keyboard work not far off from something you'd heard in 80's pop/goth music, then some excellent guitar fades into the mix and one of the most haunting and dark tracks on the album takes flight. "Spellbound" kicks the tempo up with some roaring riffs that create the sound scape for the album's first single that had been the first taste of the album fans had got, through various digital downlaod's the band offered.

"Wide Awake" is a beautiful ballad that Cristina's voice soars and we hear some very charming classic piano, all in all one of the most charming songs by Lacuna Coil since before Comalies. "The Maze" kicks off with some gritty bass and harmonic female vocalizing but then turns up the attitude again mainly fronted by Andrea with Cristina only singing during key points. The guitars on "The Maze" are gritty, low and crunchy backed by some nice drum patterns and some pleasantly complex Bass work.

The album begins to close with "Unchained" a mid paced ballad with a very catchy chorus. The song is mainly fronted by Andrea and again only features Cristina at key points and we even get a nice bit of soloing ending the track. The album closer and title track "Shallow Life" is a beautiful, melodic track that has a groove to it unseen on previous albums. The album ends with some amazing symphonic keyboard work and haunting vocals by Cristina. If you get the Limited Edition, you'll get the bonus track "Oblivion" which is a great ballad between Cristina and Andrea and features some of the best guitar riffing, soloing on the album. I suppose several dollars more for one song might be overkill to some, might want to try and find the MP3 on the net and just buy it alone.

When all is said and done this is the most I have enjoyed a Lacuna Coil album since Comalies back in 2002. Shallow Life has just the right mixture of Melody and Attitude to remind old fans of older albums yet still holds the keyboard/synth work more prominent on later releases. Just the fact that the older style of Male vs Female vocals has returned should be enough to pull in fans of the more aged albums. Thank you for reading and if my review helped or at least interested you please click Yes below.

-A Loyal Lacuna Coil Fan
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12 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not their best, but definitely not their worst, April 21, 2009
This review is from: Shallow Life (Audio CD)
I just downloaded Lacuna Coil's latest studio album: Shallow Life, and gave the album a couple of good listens before reviewing. Musically, as many have stated, it is a mix of old and new, which isn't bad in itself. I am a fan of Lacuna Coil, not necessarily of the genre of music they have been placed into. Their vocal quality and pronouncation are better than ever, with extra kudos to allowing their male vocalist Andrea Ferro to have some more air time. However, what is quite evident on this record is that the depth of their lyrical content has deteriorated considerably from Karmacode. Some songs are almost laughable at the redundancy and choice of words. It's really quite sad, since their previous albums were very rich in their content, especially Comalies. The producer Don Gilmore, who apparently helped with the lyrical content, needed to realize that Lacuna Coil and Linkin Park are very different. Linkin Park is an angry lyric-driven band. Lacuna Coil's lyrics are driven by angst, two very different emotions. As someone on another review site stated, this is not Lacuna-Park.

My favorite tracks on the album are I Survive, Wide Awake, Spellbound, and Shallow Life. Though they are not nearly as stellar as Heaven's a Lie or Our Truth. These particular tracks get my seal of approval for sticking to a lyric formula that works for them and not attempting to mainstream it down too much. The songs that drive me nuts, however are I Like it, Underdog, and The Pain. The lyrics are so annoyingly repetitive (especially I Like it) that they stay in your brain for hours....like an eye tiche or a muscle twitch.

Overall, the album is average. It flows well, and is addictive for the first few rounds, but after a few listens the lack of depth will start to show and have you shelving this album for the much better Comalies or Karmacode.
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Shallow Life
Shallow Life by Lacuna Coil (Audio CD - 2009)
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