It’s an unfortunate fact – or fortunate, depending on your point of view – that most, if not all gothic metal nowadays rips most of their schtick off of either Lacuna Coil, Cradle of Filth, or Type O Negative. Even though I admittedly scoff at Cradle and Lacuna Coil at just about every chance I get, it’s easy to see that their songs have an intensely layered production and very dark, cathartic feel that makes their music almost instantly relatable to teenage Hot Topic window-shoppers the world over. I should know, I used to date one. And when it comes to Type O? Well, when Pete Steele crooned in his rumbling basso over their heavily-layered majestic production, it was magic every time. But one element of Type O’s style that so many gothic doom bands have completely forgotten about was that even they, the undisputed kings of the genre, didn’t take themselves so fucking seriously. For every song written about an ex-lover or the inevitability of death, there was always a thrashy exhortation to total honky genocide or a cover of a Lite-FM dentist’s office classic to balance it out. Metal musicians shouldn’t be moping around in black fishnets looking wistfully past the billowing velvet curtains obscuring the full moon – if you want to once in a while, that’s totally cool, but you should at least be able to laugh at yourself. Please. This is something that Lacuna Coil never really grasped, and neither do their fellow countrymen The Foreshadowing.

While similarities to Lacuna Coil are apparent from the get-go, at least this is still a metal album and not a radio-rock disasterpiece. The guitars chug, the drums hit like the hammers of Hephaestus, and keyboard accompaniments drape the album’s sound in a permanent twilight gloom. The morose baritone of Marco Benevento fits the music perfectly, and is thankfully not paired with a female singer in a corset. This sounds like it could be a recipe for great things on paper, but after the admittedly impressive opener “Havoc,” featuring some wicked drumwork from Jonah Padella, there’s nowhere else to go but down. The Foreshadowing retreads the same ground over the next ten tracks and 55 minutes, and the rest of the album passes by in an indistinguishable display of tedious gothic excess. Airy keyboard pads dominate much of the album’s instrumentation, leaving the guitars doomed to plod on with repetitive, samey riffs in an awkward and tenuous limbo. I never found myself being grabbed by the throat and forced to listen, but instead often found myself watching the clock and praying for the end of whatever song I was listening to about halfway through. Dudes in The Foreshadowing: metal albums should not feel like high school math class. I myself had to take a break halfway through, because the continuous flow of samey gloom was literally putting me to sleep, and I needed to self-medicate with a short burst of grindcore before I could even hope to tackle the rest of Second World. The end of it sounded almost exactly like the beginning, save for the feeble and limp-wristed closing track “Friends of Pain,” but by the end of it all Marco Benevento didn’t sound that sorrowful. He sounded downright sleepy, and I really can’t blame him.

One good point in The Foreshadowing’s favor is that “Noli Timere” has not just a title, but an entire lyrical bridge in grammatically-correct Latin! It’s to be expected from a band hailing from Rome, true, but it still gives this lapsed classicist hope in a musical scene rife with bands ignorantly mutilating the language. Aside from that, there’s not really that much I can recommend about Second World if pompous and bombastic goth metal isn’t your thing. This record could really be something special if The Foreshadowing saw fit to mix up their formula a bit here and there – and it’d really be something special if they entertained the thought, just for a moment, that someone else might find them utterly ridiculous – but I guess they were content enough with wallowing in their own self-pity for an entire hour. Unless you have your fingers on the pulse of gothic gloom and can’t get enough music to slit your wrists to, you probably won’t jive that much with this.

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