Evanescence, ‘Evanescence’ – Album Review
“Hello, hello, remember me? / I’m everything you can’t control.” From the very first chorus off ‘What You Want,’ the lead single from Evanescence’s new self-titled release, the tone is set.
There are very few women in the rock genre that can compete with the soaring, angelic, powerhouse of vocals that are Amy Lee, but she’s more than just a singer; you’ve got to dig pretty deep to discover all that Lee has to offer. Along with her ever-changing band, she’s crafted some of the most dynamic rock tunes of the past 10 years.
Her lyrical content dissects the fine line between love and hate, gut-wrenching longing, and true despair and combines them with crunchy guitars, ethereal orchestral accents, and of course, her alluring piano tones. The songs Evanescence deliver are undeniably their own, and a sound and style that their fans have come to hunger for.
The new disc, ‘Evanescence,’ delivers on all of the aforementioned, and while Lee and company explore some new elements, the sound is signature Evanescence through and through. Lee has perfected the art of meticulously building a song brick by harmonious brick from start to finish, adding textures, tone and emotion and letting it flourish throughout. In the end, each song has been spun into a true work of art.
With ‘The Change,’ the vocals start off soft and sweet and as the band builds the melody behind her like master musical craftsmen. The vocals amplify, as well, just in time to take them back to basics during the chorus. It’s that versatility that makes Lee so good at what she does.
‘My Heart is Broken’ starts out with Amy Lee spinning a haunting intro on piano, right before her vocals kick in and soften up the sound, “I will wander 'til the end of time, torn away from you.” In a peculiar way, It’s within this despair where Lee finds her strengths. Then the song kicks in with the rest of the band but continues to be driven by the piano, a place where Lee seems to feel most at home. The juxtaposition between the sweet, rapturous, piano hitting a brick wall of crunchy guitars and driving drums ironically seems to make perfect sense in the overall construction of the song.
‘Erase This’ is another up-tempo rocker in the vein of ‘What You Want,’ both anthemic tunes that will undoubtedly find their best fit on a live stage where the band can truly unleash the power that feels a bit under wraps when coming through earphones. Not to say that these songs are weak by any stretch of the imagination, they’re just primed and ready for a live setting.
‘Lost in Paradise’ is one of those songs where if you shut your eyes, you’ll be transported to another place and time, if there were such a thing as a rock 'n' roll lullaby, this would be it. Lush vocals accompanied by a beautiful arrangement of strings, is that a harp we hear Miss Lee? (We heard she learned to play harp in her down time!) Amy’s stark vulnerability is at the forefront of this tune and her ability to pull the listener into her songs is an undeniable force that few have truly mastered yet Lee seems to do with ease.
Songs like ‘Sick,’ End of the Dream,’ and ‘Never Go Back’ are where the band behind Miss Lee really gets to show off their chops through skyrocketing soundscapes. Chugging guitar riffs, bombastic bass lines, and the thumping drums carve out the path for Lee’s vocals to traverse and it truly feels like the music is taking the lead and her iconic voice is simply following the path less followed, as only Amy Lee (and perhaps Robert Frost) would do.
‘Swimming Home’ is probably about as close to a straight up pop song that Evanescence is going to get. There's an anticipation for the band to kick it up a notch on this track but that never happens, leaving more room for Lee’s lush vocals to fill the void. The smooth choruses projected the heavenly feeling of jumping from one billowing cloud to another, surrounded by only the warm glow of Lee’s voice.
Evanescence have the innate ability to deliver songs that leave even the humblest of listeners thinking the song was penned just for us. These shared emotions throughout the songs remind us of how we’re all connected, even if in the smallest of ways, and sometimes it’s that simple connection that we’ve been searching for the most.
Critics will continue to struggle with what to call Evanescence’s overall sound, and that’s part of the beauty of the band. As hard as people try to paint them into a corner, they refuse to stay in one place. The baroque baroness of rock and her loyal following don’t need to slap a label on Evanescence; they just let the music do the talking. Evanescence fans waited a long time for this one, and we think it was well worth the wait.
Watch the Evanescence 'What You Want' Video