Evanescence – The Open Door

October 31, 2011 at 10:09 am | Posted in Evanescence | Leave a comment
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  1. Sweet Sacrifice
  2. Call Me When You’re Sober
  3. Weight Of The World
  4. Lithium
  5. Cloud Nine
  6. Snow White Queen
  7. Lacrymosa
  8. Like You
  9. Lose Control
  10. The Only One
  11. Your Star
  12. All That I’m Living For
  13. Good Enough
  14. The Last Song I’m Wasting On You

Three years after the success of their debut album, Fallen, Evanescence made a return to the music scene but this time they had a lot to live up to. The only problem was that one of the creators, Ben Moody, had a falling out with the group and left it the same year their debut was released. This had people questioning how the band would sound without Ben and if they would be able to top Fallen or at least make a record equal to it. One thing is for certain and it’s that Amy wanted to go further with The Open Door. They still retain what people loved about their debut but they take a lot of risks. It’s experimental, more personal than before and darker in terms of production and vocals. Amy sounded amazing on Fallen but now her voice isn’t held back by anything or anyone. Her voice shines freely and powerfully on each track, becoming a major focus of the album.

Sweet Sacrifice is exactly how you start an album. “It’s true, we’re all a little insane/but it’s so clear/now that I’m unchained” she sings in the background but her voice becomes clear once the drums come alive. It’s just the first line of the album and it’s already darker than anything from Fallen. The pre-chorus continues on this dark path and it’s the highlight because of the slick guitar riff and how crazy Amy sounds, “fear is only in our minds/taking over all the time.” She lets her falsetto shine before the chorus, where the melody evolves into a blitz of gothic guitars and an aggressive vocal performance, “you poor sweet innocent thing/dry your eyes and testify/you know you live to break me/don’t deny/sweet sacrifice.” She haunts the bridge with whispering vocals that support her lead vocals and it really increases the dark air. This is a headbanging track and it’s a fantastic opener due to its aggressive nature which demonstrates their heavier sound. Call Me When You’re Sober is inspired by Amy’s relationship with her ex-boyfriend and it begins with her scorning vocals, “don’t cry to me/If you loved me/you would be here with me,” aided by a few piano strokes and a spine-chilling double layered cry from the songstress. What appears to be a ballad takes a turn into an extravagant rock medley with a delicious flow of vocals. Amy’s emotionally torn delivery is satisfying but what’s more impressive is the sense of confidence and power that she exudes. There’s no compassion in her tone, her enraged vocals soar through embodying the pain of her relationship. The following choruses are purely hard rock and Amy does not hold back emotionally or vocally. The bridge is very blunt and highlights the main struggle of the song, “you never call me when you’re sober/you only want it ‘cause it’s over” and it morphs into a symphonic rock melody that builds to the final bombastic chorus. This isn’t a plea of a woman who’s been left stranded; rather, it’s a woman who takes an assertive stance and ends a tainted relationship, “don’t lie to me/just get your things/I’ve made up your mind.”

Heading into a darker direction, Weight Of The World brings forth a massive burst of guitars that dissolves into a music box and Amy’s throaty, soft vocals. After every line, the guitars kick in and this back and forth between the two melodies continues until she hauntingly vocalizes into the pre-chorus which slows down completely before rushing into the heavy chorus. It’s loud, in-your-face, relentless and she kills it vocally, “if you love me, then let go of me/I won’t be held down by who I used to be/she’s nothing to me.” The second verse is the same, except for the added backing vocals, and they’re superb. Following the guitar solo in the bridge, the song takes an unexpected turn and switches to an acoustic set up that somehow manages to fit in. Of course, the song concludes with its hard rock instrumental and even adds the electrifying guitar from the breakdown. Lithium is the main ballad and it’s spectacular. Unlike their previous ballads, this one integrates rock into it right from the start and Amy does not hold back on the vocals. The sweet piano and string intro easily captivates and it’s the only time the chorus is heard void of any rock instruments. Amy soothes with her low register, taking her voice to a level it’s never been before. The instrumental in the verses consists of strings, a piano as well and a light layer of guitars and drums that are the main focus in the chorus. Her deep vocals are gorgeous and really convey the emotional numbness she sings about. Occasionally, she bursts into soaring notes, most noticeably during the pre-chorus where she questions, “I can’t hold on to me/wonder what’s wrong with me.” The hard rock chorus has more flair than the intro and it’s extremely dramatic as she sings her heart out. Amy hits an immense belt, the most powerful one she’s ever done, during the bridge and it’s jaw-dropping, “here in the darkness I know myself/can’t break free until I let it go/let me go.” From this point on her vocals just become stronger and more beautiful as the song hits its final chorus where she ends it with an a cappella note. It’s depressing but it’s a very special and unique track, definitely a favourite.

Cloud Nine is so creative and it has such a wicked beat. Amy’s ghostly vocalizing becomes part of the instrumental and she delivers her lines in the verses with the aid of vocal effects. The arrangement is fierce with its grunge guitars and pounding drums. Her voice breaks free from the constraining effect during the pre-chorus where she angrily sings “guess it wasn’t real after all/guess it wasn’t real all along.” The instruments stabilize in the chorus for a streamline beat and it has an infectious edginess, “if I fall and all is lost/no light to lead the way/remember that all alone is where I belong.” It gets better in the song’s middle eight where the guitar spazzes into an aggressive riff and it’s amazing. For some reason I didn’t care much about it before but it sounds much better than I remember. I love how heavy and hardcore it is. On the next track, Snow White Queen, Amy speaks to her experience with stalkers. There’s a dark, unsettling and downright creepy air that haunts this track. The instrumental is somber and her spoken vocals are very monotonous, enhancing the eerie atmosphere tremendously. It’s quieter than the previous songs and it leads to a darker sound. The lyrics  are excellent because they capture the paranoia of being watched, “stoplight, lock the door/don’t look back/undress in the dark/and hide from you/all of you.” The instrumental begins to unravel during the pre-chorus when the guitar joins the bizarre melody. The chorus throws the band into familiar territory with a nasty guitar riff and she speaks through the perspective of the stalker, “you belong to me/my snow white queen/there’s nowhere to run, so let’s just get it over.” After the dramatic string bridge, the final chorus is rockier and her vocals take over for a wonderful finish that brings the instrumental back to its barren, eerie melody.

Lacrymosa samples the Lacrimosa sequence from Mozart’s Requiem Mass and it’s one of my favourite Evanescence tracks. The orchestral strings entrench the song in a never-ending spiral of darkness and Amy’s vocal delivery is heavenly, also drenched in a dark coating, “out on your own/cold and alone again/can this be what you really wanted, baby?” The chorus features the darkest Latin choir the band has ever used and the shift to the guitar melody is executed flawlessly. The band has captured the beauty and intensity of the sample with rock instruments. It’s fantastic and the bridge increases the aggressiveness of the guitars while Amy powerfully belts, “and in this short life, there’s no time to waste on giving up/my love wasn’t enough.” The melody becomes a dramatic build of crazy guitars and drums while the choir kicks back in, along with an even stronger vocal performance from the dark songstress “and you can blame it on me/just set your guilt free, honey/I don’t want to hold you back now, love.” This is epic and impossible to resist. The atmosphere, beautiful vocals, and intoxicating energy throws you into a magnificent realm that you will not want to leave. Amy dedicates yet another track to her deceased baby sister and Like You is much more emotionally draining than Hello. It’s not as stripped-down as its predecessor even though it appears to be. The piano is a beauty and there’s a reverberating beat backing it up while Amy sings in a soothing manner with a lush high register. A guitar backdrop makes a short appearance before the pre-chorus where the piano shifts into a new, elegant melody. In the chorus, there’s just a few guitar licks supporting the piano and her tragic, yearning vocals. When the bridge hits, you can feel the build-up in both the vocals and arrangement which erupts into dramatic, roaring guitars and emotionally charged vocals, “you’re not alone/no matter what they told you, you’re not alone/I’ll be right beside you forevermore.” The long-awaited rock influence is stunning and raises the beauty tenfold. The pain in Amy’s voice is touching and there’s a deep sadness in the final chorus, “I long to be like you/lie cold in the ground like you/there’s room inside for two and I’m not grieving for you/I’m coming for you.” Evanescence makes incredible ballads and this isn’t an exception. It’s a truly stunning piece that will tug at your heart.

The highlight and masterpiece is Lose Control, the band’s most experimental song. Everything about it is perfect. The vocals, melody and dark vibe are phenomenal. “You don’t remember my name/I don’t really care/can we play the game your way?/can I really lose control?” she coos, supported by a childish piano melody and haunting backing vocals. The verses are split into two spoken vocal styles. Firstly, she delivers her lines in a whispering manner while the latter half has her using a dark tone. There’s also a major contrast between the verses and chorus. While the verses are dominated by a soft but terrifying melody the chorus throws a bombardment of hardcore guitar beats at you with Amy employing another two set vocal style, “just once in my life/I think it’d be nice/just to lose control, just once.” The bridge is best thing about this song. It’s twisted, empowering and just so good. Her “oohs” bring forth a foreboding ambience where she sings “if I cut you down to a thing I can use/I fear there will be nothing good left of you” and breaks out into the most shocking vocalizing she’s ever done. All the tension is released in a fury of addicting beats and vocals. It settles down and closes with the chorus echoing in the background. My adoration for this track continues to grow with every listen and I’m still finding new things to love about it. The Only One is a standard song, slow verses with two layers of vocals and a rocking chorus. It’s still fantastic and I love the spiritual lyrics, “when they all come crashing down, mid-flight/you know you’re not the only one/when they’re so alone they find a back door out of life/you know you’re not the only one.” The verses have an infectious flow and Amy’s voice breezes through the edgy instrumental. The backing guitars sound like they’re going to explode any second and they do once the chorus comes in, revealing the attention-grabbing hook. “All our lives/we’ve been waiting/for someone to call our leader,” she shouts as the melody becomes an affair of hard guitars and her melisma is quite enticing. The second verse throws in an angrier tone and the melody is not as subtle. A religious feel invades during the bridge where backing vocals and a set of strings support her lush vocals as she sings “don’t look down, you’ll fall down/you’ll become their sacrifice” which triggers an onset of ceremonial sounding guitars. The religious elements help this stand out amongst the other tracks and I’ve always loved the sacrificial air that envelops it.

The band offers another stunning rock ballad and Your Star is a gorgeously cosmic track. The ambience is beautiful, mysterious and Amy’s celestial vocals are a delight, especially when she coos “I can’t see your star.” Her backing vocals play, once again, a major role in the instrumental and they really take the ambience to another level. The rock instruments don’t make an appearance until the second verse and joining them is a stronger vocal delivery from Amy. Her vocals are on-point and the flow of the chorus is great, “and I’m alone now/me and all I stood for/we’re wandering now/all in parts and pieces, swim lonely, find your own way out.” The piano quickens for the bridge and as it progresses it incorporates more beats, becoming darker and more aggressive. The choir that appears at the end makes the chorus stronger and catchier. It’s a very dramatic way to end the song but it benefits from it greatly. “All that I’m living for/all that I’m dying for/all that I can’t ignore alone at night,” she roars in the massive rock anthem, All That I’m Living For, which starts with drums and guitars a-blazing. It’s one of the album’s more aggressive offerings and it’s a typical track from the band but it makes up for it with an addicting melody. The verses do a 180 and mellow out into an excellent piano piece with a fresh, majestic air. This is what makes it different from the other tracks which have slow verses with a gloomy atmosphere. Here, it’s a lot lighter, there’s only a tiny smudge of darkness and I can’t get over how fluid her voice is with the melody. The contrast works well because the light verses really make the stomping chorus stand out tremendously. Amy finishes the track by employing whispering which shifts into an aggressive tone, “should it hurt to love you?/should I feel like I do?/should I lock the last open door/my ghosts are gaining on me.

Good enough/I feel good enough/it’s been such a long time coming, but I feel good.” Good Enough is unusual for the band and the first thing you’ll notice is that it’s not sad, depressing or dark. The strings and melodic piano are stunning and they give off the impression that it is going to be dark but it then becomes very uplifting. Throughout the entire album Amy’s vocals have been extravagant but dark and for the first time in the band’s history she uses a light, sweet tone. It’s empowering and Amy herself has said how different it was for her to write a song based on how good she felt, “under your spell again/I can’t say no to you/crave my heart and it’s bleeding in your hand/I can’t say no to you.” The chorus is actually slower than the verses and her raw voice is so good to listen to. This is one of the tracks I didn’t give much attention to, like Hello from their debut, but it’s now a favourite. The Last Song I’m Wasting On You is only available to those who pre-ordered the album and it’s similar to the previous song except it’s not as happy. It’s much more stripped-down, a piano is the only accompanying instrument, and she delivers her lines with a tragic vulnerability. There’s a sense of hope though, an uplifting feel that comes through her voice, “demanding my response/don’t bother breaking the door down/I found my way out/and you’ll never hurt me again.” There’s not much of a change in the melody but her vocals and the soothing instrumental are so amazing. I love the moments where she heightens her vocal delivery because she sounds strong but fragile. It’s a perfect combination and it’s what makes this ballad so good. I would have loved this to be featured on all versions of the album.

Conclusion: Evanescence surprised me with The Open Door. I wasn’t expecting them to make such an experimental album and it’s great that they wanted to expand their sound. They manage to hold on to all the great things about their previous effort but they really pushed themselves to create something unique. The production is much more impressive and memorable. Amy’s vocals are amazing and the use of her backing vocals to enhance the atmosphere of the songs is done creatively and successfully. I love the album more than Fallen even though some of the songs aren’t as catchy but they make up for it in many other ways. It’s a great album. It just takes some time for it to open up and reveal itself to you.

Recommended Tracks: Lose Control, Lacrymosa, Lithium, Your Star, Sweet Sacrifice, Like You, Good Enough and Call Me When You’re Sober.

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