Evanescence: Album Review

Album – The Bitter Truth

American hard rock/nu-metal/symphonic metal band Evanescence are another band that should need no introduction. One of the biggest rock bands of the early 2000s they exploded onto their scene with their debut album Fallen, selling 17 million copies and winning two Grammys off the strength of singles such as Bring me to Life and My Immortal. They have since released four albums, including the one released last week and is the focus of this article. While none quite reached the lofty success and acclaim of their debut, all three of the others are still massively good releases that don’t get nearly enough credit as they deserve. The band are largely responsible for bringing the operatic, melodic vocals of the likes of Nightwish and Within Temptation to a more mainstream Western audience, and were one of the last truly heavy bands to break the mainstream pop radio stations. As mentioned, their long awaited fifth album, The Bitter Truth, was released last Friday, so I look forward to checking it out!

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Artifact/The Turn feels like an intro track to the album, opening on some simple electronic notes and Amy Lee’s beautiful, signiture vocals. It’s simple yet haunting, setting the tone for the album perfectly. The electronics pick up the pace a little around the midway mark, having some more ambient noises fading in and out, adding even more atmosphere and anticipation to the proceedings. The fact that I enjoyed this opening track so much is a great sign, I’m now super happy I got tickets to see them in October! What a great way to open an album!

It fades perfectly into the first proper song, Broken Pieces Shine. An almost industrial metal feel opens this. Huge, simple drums and a chuggy, sporadic guitar riff sound fantastic beneath Lee’s high, effortlessly powerful vocals. The verse still feels like a build-up, soon exploding into a huge chorus, full of lofty, catchy vocals and some great, heavy guitar chords behind it all. It keeps the industrial style throughout over their token industrial style, having a great bridge between the second and final choruses, filled with some great instrumentation, subtle backing and synth and some more awesomely catchy vocals. There isn’t much to talk to with this song in terms of parts or structure, it’s just a damn good song and well worth the four year wait!

Next, we reach the first single on the album, The Game is Over. It opens on another slow drumbeat, the low bass coming in intermittently at the same time as Lee’s vocals. The instrumentation is a fantastic low driving force to contrast the higher vocals, especially when the guitar does an awesome slide to come in on and join in. The subtle lower harmonies underneath the vocals for the second half of the verse are fantastic, too. A great pre leads to another HUGE chorus, Lee’s vocals being just as strong and melodic as ever on top of the simple guitar chords. My only issue is that it could have done with being a little longer, maybe double the length; that first one felt a little short for the amount of build it got. They rectify this just moments later when we reach the second chorus and, like I’ve just said, they double it up. We get some dynamics with it too, the guitars shifting to a riff over simple chords and the drums providing a faster more cymbal heavy beat, making it all sound even better and bigger. The breakdown riff after the second chorus is heavy and the opening part of it when they alternate between drums and guitar was fantastic. It again is a tad short for my liking, but that is more just personal preference. We get a short build into another final chorus that finishes things off in a suitably epic way, stopping dead at the end. This was amazing and, though I’ve heard it a couple of times already, it has definitely not gotten old yet!

Time for another single, this time Yeah Right. It opens straight into the verse and feels almost pop, Lee’s vocals singing quietly and fairly reservedly over a synth track behind her. I for one am all for it too, it is massively catchy fun to listen to. The guitars are built in for the pre before it heads into the biggest and best chorus on the album so far. It’s catchy, easy to sing along to and a lot more like their more nu-metal days than the previous two songs. It drops back down into the second verse with the added depth of the guitar still being present. There’s an awesome bit midway through were the cymbals and bass follow each syllable of the vocals before everything drops out for a second, and it’s stuff like this in songs that I love, keeping it interesting by putting in little extra bits throughout each verse. It makes for a much more rewarding and fun listen. We get a short bridge before a simple yet hugely fitting guitar solo, a rarity for the band. We get a final massive chorus before it drops down to just piano and vocals for the outro. I loved this, and honestly cannot praise it enough. One hell of a radio rock song and a great choice for a single. Playlisted!

Feeding the Dark opens on some more tribal sounding drums. Lee’s voice again comes in over the top of them, her and the guitars building up perfectly into a fantastic, heavy riff. The great, riff continues through the verse, this again giving off more old-school Evanescence vibes, the closest thing to Bring me to Life  we have had so far. It heads into another huge, stadium filling chorus, the vocals soring over the top of the heavy guitar chords. We get another beautiful bridge after the second chorus, it staying kind of heavy but the added keys add a striking layer on top of it all, pairing perfectly with the vocals. We then again get a final chorus to finish things off and this was another amazing song!

Wasted on You is the lead and so far biggest single from the album. Opening on Lee’s beautiful vocal and piano work immediately reminds me of My Immortal or Call me When You’re Sober, two of my favourite songs by the band. Again, the subtle harmonies make this somehow even better and more beautiful than they would have been without them. An electronic drumbeat and some quiet synth builds into it, adding to the beautiful atmosphere. It then explodes into another HUGE chorus, another fantastic one with incredibly profound and well written lyrics and a fantastic vocal melody. Oh, and the rest of the band bring the rock behind the chorus too, distorted guitars and a huge bass tone, before dropping back out for the verse again. It’s a power ballad in the best possible way and is utterly fantastic, one of the best they have done and one of the best to come out of this millennium. I can’t get over how fantastic the first couple of lines of the chorus are, this is really great stuff. A slightly throwaway bridge soon gives way to a massive final chorus to finish things off. I loved this. If you like emotional, slower songs, check this out now! Playlisted!

The most recent pre-release song, Better Without You, opens on the sound of a music-box before an awesomely heavy guitar tone rings in the verse. The structure of the verse, having the instruments play in the gaps between the vocal lines, is always a great choice. The instruments come in fully with a simple yet nicely heavy guitar riff that continues through the rest of the verse. The chorus is a pretty standard affair at this point for the album; huge and anthemic but nothing to write home about after a few great ones have preceded it. There isn’t much more I can say about this song; it doesn’t do much different compared to the other songs. That by no means makes it bad, and it is in fact one of the most enjoyable I have heard on the album, just that it follows a similar formula as a lot of the others have so far. A good song, but I’d love for something different again like the previous song.

As if listening to me, Lee gets her piano back out to open up Use My Voice. Another beautiful intro and a damn catchy vocal melody afterwards really leans hard into their symphonic metal roots. The verse afterwards is fantastic, the tribal, slow drums coming back on their own behind the vocals and really letting Lee go for it vocally. The backing vocals behind the heavier chorus adds some great, catchy depth while Lee does her own thing a little faster behind them. It sounded awesome, Lee’s vocal lines almost sounding a little like something Maynard James Keenan would come up with. Thinking about it, damn do I want an Evanescence/Tool collab, how damn good would that be?! It drops down again afterwards and we get some building up of various vocal harmonies, almost giving an acapella effect behind Lee’s main vocals. We then get an explosion of a great heavy guitar riff before we get a final chorus to end things off. This was another fantastic song, and is definitely up there in contention for my favourite on the album. Playlisted!

Take Cover starts fast and heavy with a huge drum and guitar line, but quickly drops down into a slower rhythm for Lee to sing over for the verse. It felt just a little disjointed, a running theme throughout the song. I loved the chorus for it, but it again didn’t fit that well after the verse. All three parts so far sound like they are from different songs. The heavy bridge before the last chorus was short but great though, a definite highlight of the song.

Far From Heaven is another beautiful, slow piano ballad. There isn’t much to the song, just vocals, piano and some great string accompaniment. However, it is fantastic. It is truly beautiful and maybe one of Lee’s best ever vocal performances. It gave me goosebumps the first time I listened through it, a feat very few songs can do these days. This is like Disturbed’s Sound of Silence cover levels of beautiful and haunting and epic. Check this out if you haven’t heard it yet, or even if you have. Put it on right now, I won’t take no for an answer. Oh, and playlisted.

Part of Me picks up the heaviness again immediately, bursting straight into a heavy guitar and drum lead verse, Lee’s vocals fitting perfectly in over the top as usual. The great pre leads to another huge chorus, again filled with some great harmonies to add even more awesomeness to the vocals. This is another case of the song following the same sort of formula of others on the album before, though. Again, it’s a fantastic song, and one I’ll definitely be listening to a lot more after this, but I just don’t have much to say about it that wouldn’t be me repeating myself from previous paragraphs. The same could be said for the last song, Blind Belief. Another fantastic song, but nothing I haven’t heard already at times throughout the album. There’s some nice piano in it and a great heavy riff sprinkled in from time to time, but nothing to write home about like a lot of the rest of the album. Heck, at least it isn’t a slow, whimper of a closer like a lot of others, right?

Overall:This was fantastic. I was honestly blown away by a good four or five songs on this album, something that I wasn’t expecting but I was massively happy to have. This may actually be their best album since their debut, and yes, you can quote me on that. I’ll be happily listening to this over and over a lot over the next few weeks and months, so that should say it all really!

Overall: 8/10

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