Genre: Gothic Metal
Favorite Tracks: “Use My Voice,” “Blind Belief”
What a bizarre, turbulent career these zombified relics of the Bush era have had; the vaguely-Christian group became the biggest goth band of the past thirty years, inspired the most infamous work of fanfiction in existence, had internal friction centered around Amy Lee’s supposed control-freak nature which lead the whole original band to quit and start a new, musically identical band called We Are the Fallen with an American Idol contestant, and has recently culminated in long breaks filled with Lee trying her hand at film scores and children’s music. Even at their peak, their biggest and most memeable hit, “Bring Me To Life,” was fraught with drama as the label successfully pushed a male rapper onto the song because the radio wouldn’t play rock music with a female on vocals for some reason. And yet, in a cruel twist of fate, it’s the embarrassingly sincere delivery from Paul McCoy that makes “Bring Me To Life” their best song. It gives it contrast, some sort of interplay and depth that the rest of their overly-brooding, colorless discography does not possess.
Say what you will about Linkin Park, and I have, but they had drive and real hooks to support their melodramatic whinging, and they at least tried new things even if they didn’t always work out *cough cough ONE MORE LIGHT.* Evanescence’s sophomore release, THE OPEN DOOR, was basically their first album except even less fun, while their self-titled follow-up flirted with wimpy electronics, the final resort of every creatively-bankrupt nu-metal adjacent act somehow still making music years after they should be. 2017’s SYNTHESIS brought in a full-orchestra to support new renditions a la Metallica’s S&M, and yet it still felt small thanks to chewy drum machines. Its closing original song, “Imperfection,” sounded like Trent Reznor circa “The Perfect Drug” if he huffed paint for six hours beforehand. The re-tooled “Bring Me to Life,” with Lee awkwardly trying to trade off the chorus with herself, further showed how the record label forcing McCoy onto them was the best thing to happen to them.
THE BITTER TRUTH is that there just isn’t much to say about Evanescence’s first album of original material in 10 years. It’s arguably their heaviest record to date with Nick Raskulinecz on production, a frustratingly inconsistent talent who favors blocky, monochromatic guitar tones and works best with artists who lean into that mechanical grind, like Code Orange and even Korn on the surprisingly decent THE NOTHING. A symphonic metal band should soar and swell, yet there’s no interesting leads and the riffs all sound like dumb-downed Pantera.
“Yeah Right” has some bratty swagger and swing to it until all the momentum stops dead on the hook and the solo gets lost amid the over-driven rhythm. At least it’s not the ugly, burbling soup of effects and glitches of “Wasted on You” or the queasy spurts of “Take Cover.” Lee has a distinct voice and presence, but she does not possess a lot of range and she’s not given the space to breathe so her voice often feels clipped and sour. It’s amazing how much of a breath of fresh air the background chanting on “Use My Voice” are, as it’s the only moment that captures the dumb campy fun they are capable of making. Oh how I miss Paul McCoy.