(DemiGodRaven wrote this review. In a moment of weakness, I decided to post it.)
I have a sneaking suspicion that that is either the chemical compound for meth or caffeine. Either way, don’t trust it.
I understand this isn’t the most timely of reviews. I am easily distracted, much like a moth to a flame. Can you believe that I still have a review for Lamb of God’s Resolution in the works? Maybe I’ll save that one for when I have kids and the band have long since broken up.
Look, I know a lot of you guys have very high opinions of me and I appreciate it, I really do. I’m saying this up front because I know that a lot of you are going to turn on me over the course of this review, after some of the revelations about me that will come out. That’s fine, ‘Forgive them for they know not what they do’, and all that jazz. That said, the reason you’re staring at the cover art for the recently released Lacuna Coil disc, Dark Adrenaline, on our fine No Clean Singing site is because this album actually ain’t half bad.
I was one of the long-time fans who found themselves turning up their noses at the group’s previous release, Shallow Life, for focusing too much on being mainstream radio rock and just in general containing some really bad songwriting. Dark Adrenaline actually isn’t dramatically different, but the band have started to meld the darker, more bass-heavy sound they found on Karmacode with Shallow Life to create what is a pretty solid, guilty-pleasure rock disc.
This isn’t metal by any stretch (unless you’re one of those assholes who thinks Five Finger Death Punch and Avenged Sevenfold are the heaviest things you’ve ever heard), and if you’re a fan of everything pre-Karmacode you’re likely not going to find much here. The band probably won’t be returning to their more ethereal, goth-focused sound, but at the very least Dark Adrenaline proves they can still put on some good performances and actually release a solid disc.
This is one of those albums that had the band making the rounds of the press circuit with the relatively stock, “This is our heaviest release ever!” (paraphrased), so you’d be forgiven for brushing it off. It seems like every band who put out a release that isn’t well received claims the following disc is the heaviest release ever, as if there were some sort of empirical scale of heaviness that metal fans stare at, and if you’re above a 7 then we will automatically like it. That is certainly not the case, yet the claims continue to be made.
For the longest time I had no idea how Dark Adrenaline was going to sound, and actually wasn’t too interested in the incredibly early release of the “Trip The Darkness” single. Go figure — the song is actually pretty good, and the chorus has a tendency to get stuck in your head. Maybe it was a good thing that I approached the album without hearing any of it in advance, because I can imagine expectations probably would have been high after the aforementioned solid single.
Now, I’m going to get something important out of the way before continuing on. Andrea Ferro (the vocalist who isn’t Cristina Scabbia) is commonly characterized as being rough to listen to, even accused of outright ruining songs for people. Thus, whenever you talk about a Lacuna Coil release, one of the first things people want to know is how he did and whether or not this is going to be another rough trip. Having listened to this band since Unleashed Memories and other early efforts, I have to say that this is probably his best performance to date.
Either the band have figured out his range and written around that or he’s toning it down quite a bit. You can’t blame the guy for his enthusiasm and wanting to really belt shit out, but he has made things a little difficult to get through. Dark Adrenaline isn’t some sort of sudden revelation though, and his singing style is going to be very familiar, but if you’re the type who absolutely hated him before, you might actually find him tolerable here. He hasn’t been muted in favor of Cristina Scabbia, but at the very least you can nod and go, “Ya know? This ain’t so bad”.
Of course, the other main vocalist in this band is still here and she is still a pretty large focal point. She sounds as good as she ever has on this album. Cristina has always been a good vocalist, even as her style has changed over the band’s career. She’s a pretty good chameleon in that respect. She deserves a special shout-out for some her work in the band’s cover of R.E.M’s Karaoke-night momentum killer “Losing My Religion”, specifically in the verse of ‘Every Whisper/Every Waking Hour’, where she really belts it out. The range she reaches is impressive and is one of the better changes the band makes to that specific song. The rest of the changes seem to be morphing just for the sake of putting a Lacuna Coil stamp on the whole song, but that one specific verse just sounds fantastic.
It is always tough talking about the rest of the band because the purpose of Lacuna Coil isn’t necessarily to push boundaries. For Dark Adrenaline, all you can say is that the band is there and they do a good job.
I’ve always thought drummer Cristiano Mozzati is a little underrated, because he does bring flair to what he does, but Lacuna Coil definitely isn’t his outlet to deliver amazing drum performances. Instead, he puts in a solid backing track for the band, with some good flourishes on the cymbals, though you have to be listening pretty intently to catch them. If you want an example of how good he can be behind the kit, listen to the song “Daylight Dancer” from Comalies and tell me that drum part doesn’t get stuck in your head.
The riffs are somewhat stock for both metal and radio rock, but it is how they are pieced together that provides some pretty good music. Granted, you’ll never fully rid yourself of the been there, heard that, feeling, but I doubt anyone will get this album because they’re seeking genre-defying, ground-breaking, insert-buzzword-here performances.
The vocal harmonies and melodies are fine and earworm-ey as all get out, but goddamn, there are some pretty groan-worthy moments on this disc when it comes to the lyrics; some really dumb gems are presented here. That’s been a reoccurring theme with this band since the gem of, “Something about you makes me feel bad”, from Karmacode.
The album does include some standout songs. For sure, you need to listen to “Trip The Darkness”, because that song pretty much encapsulates much of what Dark Adrenaline is about. Another one, which serves as a sort of curiosity, is ‘I Don’t Believe In Tomorrow’. If you listen to it closely, it sounds like one of the best things Korn have written in years. “Intoxicated”, which serves as that song’s followup, also includes some very good vocal work on Cristina’s part. It doesn’t stretch her range much, but I really like what she does with it.The group’s cover of “Losing My Religion” is a novelty. You could probably do without it, because it is really difficult to fuck up a song as strong as “Losing My Religion”, but again, keep an eye out for the part that I mentioned earlier.
Some filler does make an appearance. “Give Me Something More” follows a fairly bland modern-rock formula, but since most of the songs clock in at about four minutes, you really aren’t going to be assed out too much for time on that one. (You’ll know if a song is to your liking within about forty seconds, because they don’t change that much through the course of the whole experience of each track.) “The Army Inside” is also a pretty rough listen, so you can skip that one. It sounds too much like something written during the Shallow Life era for my liking. It also features a cheesy guitar solo, so if you’re a fan of those, you at least owe it to yourself to check out that bit of Swiss.
Dark Adrenaline is interesting because it is probably the best release from the band’s newly morphed sound to date. They’ve shed much of what made previous release Shallow Life a groan-worthy experience and have created a good listen. It’s difficult not to call this pop music due to the way it’s formatted, but in my specific range of listening, this and most of the metalcore on my ipod basically serve that purpose. I can see Dark Adrenaline being successful for the band among both newer and older fans, because it does a very good job treading the fine line between the more ethereal, nu-metal focused sound of Karmacode and the rock stuff they did on Shallow Life. That they’ve managed to combine both of them without the whole thing turning into a horror show is an accomplishment that deserves commendation.
If you’re in the market for something much lighter than what you usually listen to, or if you’ve been out of the loop with Lacuna Coil for a little while, you can certainly could do a lot worse than Dark Adrenaline. I personally like the fact that Lacuna Coil have recovered so well from their deeply flawed previous release and that I can make it through this one without itching to hammer on the skip button.