Evanescence – Evanescence

November 8, 2011 at 10:21 am | Posted in Evanescence | Leave a comment
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  1. What You Want
  2. Made Of Stone
  3. The Change
  4. My Heart Is Broken
  5. The Other Side
  6. Erase This
  7. Lost In Paradise
  8. Sick
  9. End Of The Dream
  10. Oceans
  11. Never Go Back
  12. Swimming Home
  13. New Way To Bleed
  14. Say You Will
  15. Disappear
  16. Secret Door

I can’t believe it’s been five years since The Open Door was released. The future of the band was up in the air after they concluded their tour for the album and since then I’ve heard many rumours concerning the band. Some were claiming that Amy was going to go solo and was planning to release material that was different from her Evanescence work. However, official news made its way online in 2009 announcing that the band was, in fact, still together and working on a new album. Originally, the album was slated for a fall 2010 release but the band decided to leave the studio to write new songs and they ended up returning to the studio with a new producer in April of this year. When I heard that they were coming back I was so excited. It came as a surprise to me because I wasn’t aware that they had been in the studio. It’s always a great feeling when a band you like makes a long-awaited return and I couldn’t wait to hear how the album would sound. Amy made it clear that this album was going to be much more of a band effort with everyone working on the songs together. This uniting of the band was so important that she decided to title the album Evanescence because of the focus on the band itself rather than just her. This sentiment is furthered in the cover art where Amy is nowhere to be seen. Instead, the literal meaning of Evanescence, tending to vanish like vapor, is represented on the cover.

“Hello, hello remember me?/I’m everything you can’t control/somewhere beyond the pain there must be a way to believe/we can break through.” I’m sure everyone still remembers Amy Lee and it’s nice to hear her voice again. What You Want is a great way to start the album because it showcases the band’s new direction perfectly. Unlike their past singles, this is the most danceable and heaviest song they’ve released; however, it’s not nearly as heavy as the other album tracks. There’s just the right amount of hard rock in it to let fans slowly transition to the intense rock sound. Pounding drums are the first instrument to appear and it doesn’t take long for the massive guitars to blow it up into an addicting romp. In addition, Amy’s voice is superb, which is a no-brainer, but she’s improved over the last few years. There’s a confidence that wasn’t there before, a sense that this is where she belongs, “do what you what you want, if you have a dream for better/do what you what you want till you don’t want it anymore (remember who you really are). Joining the rock instrumental is a twinkling piano and a lovely layer of electronic beats that blend effortlessly with her vocals. The chorus is loud, exciting and very aggressive. Her vocals explode with the raging beats for a fantastic hook. A symphonic melody oozes into the bridge, complete with crisp backing vocals, and the strings are united with the rest of the instrumental for the grand finale. I loved this track when I first heard it and it gets better with repeated listens. What an awesome way to have Evanescence back. Made Of Stone comes in bringing a dirty guitar riff that is then overlapped with a transcending piano that carries a spooky vibe. It’s reminiscent of their older material but the focus on the metal arrangement makes it quite refreshing. Her haunting vocals in the verses blend with the pounding beats as she sings, lacking any sense of care, “speak your mind/like I care/I can see your lips moving/I just learn not to hear.” The chorus only makes it more defiant as the guitar goes into a frenzy while Amy angrily delivers her lines, “I’m all out of love for you, baby/now that I’ve tried everything/I’ll numb the pain/till I am made of stone.” Unexpectedly, the song shifts into an ethereal piano melody and her soaring voice harmonizes with it beautifully. She sounds crazy good and her voice really shines during the bridge. A short and sweet guitar solo makes an appearance and it’s fantastic. There weren’t any heavy breakdowns like this in their music before but it’s great and you get to actually hear the input from the other members.

Thought that I was strong/I know the words I need to say/frozen in my place/I let the moment slip away,” her soft voice flutters in, over a sequence of mellow percussion beats that are paired with a light touch of synths for The Change. About halfway through the verse, the arrangement livens up, as do the vocals, and the chorus comes in where she vocalizes frustratingly before she belts out the hook, “say it’s over/yes it’s over/but I need you anyway/say you love me but it’s not enough.” Her aggressive vocals are filled with a longing and this feeling gets stronger in the bridge where she goes all-out on the vocal delivery. . Her vocals are the reason for this song’s catchiness and the energy in her performance is so exhilarating. I love how it transitions right into My Heart Is Broken, one of the album’s most brilliant tracks. It begins with a lovely piano melody that creeps in and she alluringly sings, “I will endure till the end of time/torn away from you,” which sets the tone perfectly. The instrumental comes alive after the intro as the piano quickens its pace and the rest of the band joins in. Her voice becomes much more powerful and the rock instruments are fully integrated in the pre-chorus which is actually the intro, only now performed with a new intensity. The chorus has to be the most dramatic and extraordinary hook from the band. “My heart is broken/sweet sleep my dark angel/deliver us from sorrow’s hold/over my heart,” she sings in a depressing, pain-ridden and angelic voice. The way she sings the title is phenomenal and I could listen to it all day. It’s so emotional and it’s one of her best vocal performances. The agony that she pours out is addicting and just fills you with grief. She easily captures the sense of heartbreak and she does it exceptionally well. The finale is a repeat of the chorus and it just gets more emotional and beautiful as it goes on.

The Other Side has a typical rock composition but the guitar is a bit more hardcore than the last few songs. It pulses with some nice hard drum beats and the track gets a lot better during the pre-chorus where Amy has some nice vocal runs. This took a little while to grow on me but I was won over by the  chorus, “counting the days/to meet you on the other side/I will always be/waiting.” There’s a nice edge to it and I really enjoy the way she sings the chorus. It’s fun, not too dark and the added piano in the bridge is a great touch. It eventually slows down for a stripped chorus and she gets a fitting dose of vocoder that has her sounding like she really is on the other side. It’s a neat vocal effect and leads the song back into its full arrangement for a grand finish. The album moves on to Erase This and it’s much more infectious. The rapid melody of the piano and guitar duo is incredible. It’s packed full with delicious energy and Amy plays with her range a bit more as she employs a fast-paced high register, “it’s too late to change your mind/even though this fragile world is tearing apart at the seams.” The melody undoubtedly makes it a standout and while the chorus may not be as catchy as the verses, it’s still a great listen. The instrumental makes the verses pop out and in the chorus her voice is the reason for its success. The chorus loses the fantastic piano and instead focuses on a heavy guitar riff but I really love how she drags out and holds the notes, “is it so hard for you?/‘cause it’s so hard for me/to believe that what we dreamed could ever come to life again/‘cause I cannot erase this life.” The piano shoots back in near the end of the chorus and I look forward to it every time I hear the chorus. In the bridge, a collision of strings, piano, pounding guitar riffs and delightful vocals come together for a dramatic result.

The album’s first and true ballad, Lost In Paradise, is a magical experience. It comes in at the right time because the album desperately needed a break to soften it out. The piano is soft, deep and powerful as she delivers a controlled and jaw-dropping performance. Her low tones accent the piano beautifully and her calm voice makes this more accessible than their past ballads, “I’ve been believing in something so distant/as if I was human/and I’ve been denying this feeling of hopelessness/in me, in me.” The melancholic air that lingers in the verses fades into an optimistic setting in the pre-chorus where a gorgeous sequence of strings enters along with a sweeter piano riff. It’s breathtaking and her voice never ceases to amaze me. The chorus combines the sadness of the verses and the sweet blend of instruments from the pre-chorus. It’s a blissful creation and it just makes you succumb to it, “I have nothing left/and all I feel is this cruel wanting/we’ve been falling for all this time/and now I’m lost in paradise.” I wasn’t expecting the song to switch gears and turn into a rock ballad but it’s a fabulous surprise. The second chorus is a lot more dramatic with the band and Amy picks up her voice to stand out against the new arrangement. It’s incredible how amazing it turns out to be with the entire band playing. After this little short break the album wastes no time coming back harder than before with Sick. Opening with a nice mix a synths and guitars, it takes on a slight metal sound which gets stronger in the pre-chorus. While the chorus is repetitive, there’s an undeniably addicting nature to it, “sick of it all/sick of it all/we will not follow,” and I love the way she angrily says “sick.” A piano riff joins for a brief moment in the second chorus to shake things up. The greatest thing about this song is the energetic display from her fellow band mates. The melody is intoxicating and has a fist-pumping feel to it. You just want to get up and scream along to the chorus while thrashing back and forth. I love it so much.

Amy’s droning voice invades End Of The Dream with a hard rock composition. Unlike the previous song, this one is made infectious by the vocals rather than the melody. That’s not to say the melody is bad, it’s just that her vocals shine brighter than the instrumental does. It’s your standard rock tune but her vocals take it a step further. “Follow your heart/till it bleeds/as we run towards the end of the dream,” she chants, moving from a droning style to an active and engaged tone. The song goes into a drum medley in the breakdown for Amy to play with her range but it’s short-lived and quickly returns back to its consuming chorus. It’s not too different from the other tracks but it’s memorable due to the vocals. Oceans was love at first listen. Synths play a major role and the introductory synth line is gruesome. Her powerful voice overlaps it and halfway through it really comes to life with the percussion beats. The pre-chorus is short but divine. Guitars fill it with a dark, dramatic flavour and her transcendent vocals eclipse it beautifully, “with the whole world falling out on me.” The chorus is the album’s best hook and the strange background vocals make it otherworldly. It’s infectious, on-point with the vocals and the instrumental and lyrics are superb, “cross the oceans in my mind/find the strength to say goodbye/in the end you never can wash the blood from your hands.” This is your godly Evanescence track made ten times better by the entire band. The rest of the choruses contain an extra stanza which is great because it prolongs the hook’s epicness. Of course, the guitars go haywire in the bridge while Amy flawlessly delivers with her loud vocals. The song captures the sublime nature of the ocean, both it’s beauty and danger. This is amazing in every way and it’s slowly becoming the band’s most memorable upbeat track.

Never Go Back is inspired by the Tsunami incident that occurred in Japan earlier this year and to be honest I was expecting a ballad but instead they offer another great rock number. The introductory guitars are laced with a taste of heavy metal and you have Amy’s standard vocal performance which is loud, in-your-face and aggressive. “Save yourself/don’t look back/tearing us apart until it’s all gone/the only world I’ve ever known sleeps beneath the waves/but I remember,” she shouts in the chorus and it’s really interesting because she switches her singing style to a more drawn out delivery and a piano is added to the composition, making it very melodic. I love her vocalizing in the bridge and it’s great to see a larger focus on the piano. The lyrics are gorgeous and speak strongly to the disaster that occurred. Swimming Home is the song I was looking forward to the most and it’s more spectacular than I imagined it would be. The electronic aspect is handled extremely well and the band utilizes it to enhance their sound rather than jumping into a drasticly new one. This ballad is their most stunning because of the delicious composition, captivating vocals and oceanic ambience. Consisting of a piano, light drum work, synths and a harp, it is the standout on the album. It’s very calming and there’s a lingering feel of death that pervades the instrumental, “way down, I’ve been way down/underneath this skin/waiting to hear my name again.” Amy’s voice is fantastic and is the central focus. This may be her softest performance to date and it’s so easy to lose yourself in its beauty. In the second verse, her backing vocals are vocoded and sung in a very deep register which bring another delicious layer to the song. The arrangement isn’t so different in the chorus but it opens up and becomes much more fluid, “I’m sorry/nothing can hold me/I adore you still/but I hear them calling/and nothing can hold me.” During the bridge, her fragile voice strengthens for a brief moment and this is the emotional peak of the song. Evanescence have created yet another truly unique song and it’s so refreshing for them.

A piercing guitar and drum beat with Amy vocalizing underneath opens New Way To Bleed. The verses are the standard blend of drums, piano and great vocals but the chorus is anything but standard. It has a fantastic flow and an invigorating melody that contains just the right amount of darkness, “I feel it coming over me/I’m still a slave to these dreams/is this the end of everything?/or just a new way to bleed?” I love the grand feel of it and the second verse contains some vocoder to keep it from getting bland. A piano rushes in during the bridge for a brief moment so Amy can impress with her dreamy vocals but a blast of drums takes over, acting as a transition back into the chorus. All in all, this is actually one of my favourite tracks even though it doesn’t necessarily do anything different. Say You Will opens with the album’s greatest psychedelic guitar riff and that alone was enough to lock me into it. The verses are very rapid-fire and they’re balanced nicely with a piano that flutters in occasionally. The chorus reminds me of All That I’m Living For because of the urgency and dirty guitar riff, “say you will or say you won’t/open your heart to me/now or never, tell the truth/is this real, is this real?” I love how aggressive she sounds and it really goes with the whole feel of the track. The structure is quite similar to the other tracks and it sort of gets lost among them but its in-your-face chorus leaves a lasting impression.

Disappear sticks out with its flirtatious guitar and piano instrumental. “Hold on/why can’t you remember me?underneath everything,” she howls in the verse, joined by an infectious high energy beat. This is expanded to fantastic dance rock in the chorus and it’s so much fun. It’s not really all that dark but it sure is rock heavy, “don’t you want to feel?/don’t you want to live your life?/how much longer are you gonna/give in to the fear?/holding you down until you’re frozen.” There’s something about the chorus that makes it a unique inclusion to the band’s musical arsenal. The chorus just sounds really good and different from their usual material. I love how they stick true to their sound but add these few little touches to make it new. The album finally reaches its grand finale, Secret Door, and what a finale it is. This is the most stripped song on the album and Amy puts her harp skills to use once more but it’s more dominant here. Orchestral strings join the melody and give it a fresh, classical feel. It’s the sole song to have such a grandiose arrangement and it’s very dreamy. Amy’s vocals are as beautiful as they are poignant, “look past the end/it’s a dream as it’s always been/all life lives on/if we’ve ever loved it.” The lyrics are superb and the backing vocals add a layer of bliss to the overall composition. It’s so soothing and exciting at the same time. The chorus is beyond words. Her delivery is passionate and exotic as her voice dips into high and low tones, “and I, I will remember how to fly/unlock the heavens in my mind/follow my love back/through the same secret door.” The bridge offers a delicious taste of the instrumental and the band has never sounded so sensual. I couldn’t have asked for a better conclusion and this is definitely on the list of best songs they’ve done.

Conclusion: Evanescence did not disappoint and went beyond my expectations. To be honest, I actually didn’t like the album on my initial listen. The songs didn’t stand out because the emphasis on the band resulted in similar compositions. However, after sinking my teeth in it, the songs really started to unravel. They have never sounded like a band before but you can hear the input and feel the contributions made by everyone. There isn’t much of a focus on making the songs sound dark; rather, they sound harder and heavier than before. There’s still a lingering dark atmosphere but it’s not as apparent as it was in their past albums. Some of the songs do sound very similar but once you get to know them they stand on their own quite nicely. The ballads slayed and ended up being some of the best tracks they’ve ever done. I can’t compare them to their previous ballads because they’re so different and unique. Amy’s voice is a treat for the ears and I can’t believe how much better she’s become. Evanescence is always trying to progress and that’s what I love about them. They take the familiar and push it one step further. Evanescence may take some time getting used to but it’s worth it.

Recommended Tracks: Swimming Home, Secret Door, My Heart Is Broken, Lost In Paradise, Oceans, Sick, New Way To Bleed, Never Go Back, Made Of Stone and What You Want

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