LACUNA COIL – Karmacode

Eagerly anticipated (at least in some circles) as the band’s important, make-or-break album, LACUNA COIL‘s Karmacode sees the band not only exploring, but embracing a comfortable shift towards safer, more predictable territory. While the band’s first three albums could hardly be considered “masterpieces,” each album at least displayed a marked improvement in terms of songcraft and sound, which is sadly not the case with Karmacode. Beginning with “Fragile,” the band quickly sets the pace and direction of the album with bouncy, rubber-band bass, simple backbeats, and chugging mid-90’s era riffs that practically beg the listener to “jump.” This continues with different variations on the same trend throughout the album resulting in a collection of songs that are virtually interchangeable. When the band does experiment, as on the TOOL-influenced tribal drum breakdown on “One Truth” or the orchestral string arrangements on “In Visible Light,” these ideas are never fully realized and seem almost grafted on as an afterthought, which negates any possibility of enhancing two otherwise bland and unexciting tracks. The single, “Closer,” which is curiously buried towards the back of the album, is standard LACUNA COIL fare – mildly catchy without being particularly mind-blowing. “The Game” plods along predictably enough although it does benefit from a melodic, well-thought out solo from guitarist Maus who provides the song’s only highlight. Yet despite Karmacode‘s multitude of shortcomings, the album isn’t without a handful gems, oddly enough in the form of the moody waltz of “Within Me” and the mostly Italian-penned and sung “Without Fear.” Overall, Karmacode is a stale representation of a band capable of better things, yet this time took the easy way out by cashing in on typical, trendy material resulting in the musical equivalent of a trip to the local fast food joint. It’s edible, quick, cheap, and greasy and odds are, won’t be remembered a week from now. (Century Media Records)

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