Sure, it'd be possible to get through a LULLACRY review without mentioning several international superstar bands who combine bubblegummy pop-metal with female vocals. But what would the fun of that be? Besides, find me a NIGHTWISH fan who doesn't like this band — if you do, they're either lying or being deliberately difficult.
And really, what's not to like? You've got slick, polished, catchy metal tunes that make HAMMERFALL look like SPIRAL ARCHITECT, an album full of populist hit singles, festooned with the cheeky vocals of the sufficiently babe-a-licious Tanja. The backing tracks may be played by burly Finns (including a bassist named, I shit you not, "Heavy") but on songs like "Stranger In You", they might as well be Lindsay Lohan's backing band — this is unapologetic, commercial hard rock, with one foot in Eurotrash pop and another in '80s movie soundtrack froth.
You want a ballad with dated synths ("Heart Shaped Scars")? Of course you do. How about one of those "dark" songs that sounds like a QUEENSRŸCHE outtake from "Empire"? "King of Pain"… check! The whole thing may come off as a little pre-fab and corny, but no more so than any other hard rock hopefuls with their eyes on the singles charts and glossy Kerrang! spreads. Put it this way, if you're going into a LULLACRY album looking for anything but what they give you, the problem is yours, not theirs.
And "Vol. 4" does deliver the goods. The songs are catchy, Tanja acquits herself well, and the whole thing is a pleasant, poppy listen. Whether it slots in next to your CRYPTOPSY or PIG DESTROYER CDs is your own issue (and, not to stir the shitpot of Internet debate, but it seems to be a pretty American issue, metal fans being a bit more, shall we say, uptight on these shores). Just listen to "Killing Time" or "Zero" and think of LULLACRY as a good-time bridge between CHILDREN OF BODOM and STRATOVARIUS, with a little gratuitous PAT BENATAR thrown in. Or just chuck all the analysis out the window and enjoy LULLACRY for the gilded, goofy, guilty pleasure they're meant to be.