Evanescence were, once upon a time, the quintessential female-fronted rock band of the world. At a time where Britney did it again and Avril Lavigne made things so complicated, Amy Lee stepped forth as the female icon who channelled that much darker image and sound. This self-titled release holds a lot of pressure on its shoulders; 2006’s ‘The Open Door’ didn’t exactly garner the best reception in comparison to their debut, despite commercial success.
It is cited that this record is about Amy Lee falling back in love with the band after certain ‘off’ feelings, so realistically, the key question surrounding this self-titled release is: now Amy Lee has fallen back in love with Evanescence, will everybody else?
Going into it, it’s hard to say. Can any fan really loosen their hold on 2003’s ‘Fallen’, the record that single-handedly launched the band into the throws of success? The main source we have to go on prior to the full record’s release is the video for ‘What You Want’, the album’s opening number. Amy herself described this track as one of the heavier and more different tracks the band have created. While the track is good and Amy’s vocals are still fantastically powerful, this track isn’t exactly a huge departure from what we’ve come to expect from the band. This could be construed as positive and negative in equal measures…
Moving on from the opening track to the album as a whole; starting with the visuals: In a rather simplistic fashion, it’s reminiscent of Avenged Sevenfold’s self titled effort in terms of lacking an overly visually stimulating cover. Perhaps, like their comparative counterparts, this album can be construed as the musical embodiment of the band, hence the self-titled direction, and relies on the artwork being simple in order to focus on the music. While this is just assumption, it could be a safe theory based on the pressure surrounding this release and the five year gap it follows.
This album encompasses a lot of various sounds. While many tracks are brash and riff-heavy (‘Erase This’), other tracks almost pick up where others left off. ‘Lost In Paradise’ seems like an effortless sequel to their classic ‘My Immortal’, yet grander and with delicately wonderful instrumentation from violins to push it just that little bit further forward.
‘Made Of Stone’ flaunts Amy’s blazing vocal range with those darker riffs doused through the track. The guitar work isn’t overly elaborate, as the solo demonstrates, but it’s enough to hold interest and compliment the rest of the track without becoming overbearing. ‘Never Go Back’ is another highlight track with abrasive guitar leading the track into a verse primarily backed by quality drum beats. The chorus itself yet again pushes Amy’s vocals to high limits with catchy consequences. Pianos work seamlessly where guitar solos would have sufficed, changing the vibe of the track into something more elegant than musically attacking.
The closing number to this self-titled effort, ‘Swimming Home’, lends delicate vocals and instrumentation to a lovely opening that cites ‘I adore you still…’ – a professing of that love Amy still holds for her band? Perhaps. Regardless, this number gradually takes us to the end of the record, grasping that delicacy throughout and allowing Amy’s tight vocal control to provide a graceful goodbye to this offering.
There is one frustrating note when it comes to reviewing this record, as is assumable with any Evanescence record; it circulates one person. Amy Lee is a fantastic vocalist and musician, but the band as a whole worked together on producing quality tracks and it seems even when trying to avoid doing so, the spotlight of this review sits primarily on her shoulders.
Sadly, that’s almost unshakeable when it comes to this band. Whether or not the praise circulates one member or the entire band, this album is a certain step-up from its 2006 predecessor. At points it may seem predictable in terms of style from track to track, but there’s the integral quality of Evanescence at the core. ‘Evanescence’ is a strong release and holds certain key tracks throughout, but whether it’s strong enough to replace ‘Fallen’ as that record is, at present, undecided. It will be a very, very strong challenge though.
Welcome back, Evanescence. The wait may have been worth it this time, but try not to leave it five years in the future.