Forsaking the shallow life for something far darker
Long running Italian act Lacuna Coil is a band that have polarised many in recent years, with the line drawn between the release of their stunning 2002 release, Comalies, and its disappointing follow-up, Karmacode, from 2006. Essentially, what it comes down to is those who prefer the band’s early gothic metal/rock sound (1998 through to 2002) and those who have embraced the band’s current alternative rock direction (2006 to the present).
While I really enjoyed the band’s early albums, I can honestly say that I’ve liked some of their latter day efforts as well. Nothing the band has released has been a complete disaster, even if their last two releases (Karmacode and 2009’s Shallow Life) lacked the spark, the darkened edg,e and inventiveness of their early efforts. So with the release of the Milan based outfit’s sixth full-length release Dark Adrenaline, I kept an open mind and cast aside all expectations and hopes that the band had decided to rethink their current direction, return to their early roots and deliver the album fans have been waiting for. With no preconceived ideas of what to expect, I can honestly conclude that Dark Adrenaline is by far the strongest album the six piece outfit have released in years.
The opening track, Trip the Darkness, is perhaps one of the album’s more radio friendly and melodic efforts, and not surprisingly, one of the album’s more forgettable efforts. Given that the song could have easily found itself on Shallow Life without sounding out of place, it’s not surprising that the song was chosen as the album’s first single. Still, the track does have a greater guitar presence than anything from their last couple of album’s (courtesy of Don Gilmore, who previously worked with the band on Shallow Life), which is at least a good sign for the rest of the album.
The follow-up track, Against You, is an interesting effort that seems to contain elements of both the band’s past and present sounds, as well as a brief solo (something that is rarity in Lacuna Coil songs these days), while the guitar heavy Kill the Light is an absolute classic with its huge guitar sound and infectious choruses.
From here, the album seems to alternate between a mix of the old and new, with tracks such as Give Me Something More, the slower rocker/ballad End of Time (which features some great dual vocal harmonies) and The Army Inside (which again features another great solo) representing the band’s modern alternative rock approach, but with just enough influences from their past to spice up the song writing (and inevitably overshadow anything featured on Shallow Life).
Elsewhere, tracks like Upsidedown, the darker I Don’t Believe in Tomorrow, Intoxicated and the moody and atmospheric slower paced closer My Spirit sound more like a conscious effort from the band to recapture the spirit of the roots – which they succeed at more than not.
In fact the only track that really doesn’t work aside from the opener is the band’s cover of REM’s Losing My Religion (From 1991’s Out of Time). While I’ve never been a big fan of the song (or R.E.M. for that matter), the band’s rendition here sounds a little too predictable and safe, and therefore comes across as nothing more than filler at best.
Overall, Dark Adrenaline is a return to form for Lacuna Coil - perhaps not to the extent of rivalling Comalies, but at the very least sounding stronger than their last couple releases.
(Century Media Records/E.M.I. Music Australia)