Evanescence was one of the biggest bands of the early 2000s, with their debut selling over 17 million copies and even winning two Grammys. However, since then they have slowly dipped in support and buzz – though I have to admit I have no real idea why. ‘Fallen’ was an incredible album, sure, but their three following albums were also pretty impressive. With their latest album, ‘The Bitter Truth’, they look to try and recapture the magic some feel they have lost by bringing their form of American symphonic rock/metal back after a four-year absence. I have been a pretty big fan of this band for pretty much my whole life, ever since hearing the terribly misplaced ‘Bring me to Life’ in the Daredevil movie as a kid. It made the movie even more cringe as a result and didn’t fit at all, but the actual song is a banger.
‘Artifact/The Turn’ feels like an intro track to the album, opening on some simple electronic notes and Amy Lee’s beautiful, signature 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 which builds even more atmosphere and anticipation to the proceedings. 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 before it explodes 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 metal style with a great bridge between the second and final choruses, filled with subtle backing, synth and some more awesomely catchy vocals. Well worth the four year wait!
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. 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 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 is 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 dead end.
The following single ‘Yeah Right’ opens straight into the verse and feels almost pop-like with Lee’s vocals singing quietly and fairly reservedly over a synth track behind her. I, for one, am all for it. The chorus is catchy, easy to sing along to and a lot more like their more nu-metal days than the previous two songs. There’s an awesome bit midway through the second verse where the cymbals and bass follow each syllable of the vocals before everything drops out for a second. It’s sections like this 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 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 – perhaps the closest thing to ‘Bring me to Life.’ It heads into another huge, stadium-filling chorus as the vocals soar over the top of the heavy guitar chords. We get another beautiful bridge after the second chorus and it stays kind of heavy but the added keys add a striking layer on top of it all, pairing perfectly with the vocals.
‘Wasted on You’ is perhaps the 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 build 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. The rest of the band brings the rock behind the chorus too with distorted guitars. It’s a power ballad in the best possible way and it’s 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. 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 a 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 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 the amazing tracks that proceeded it. Despite following a similar formula, it’s still an enjoyable song.
As if she heard this herself, Lee gets her piano back out to open up ‘Use My Voice.’ Another beautiful intro and a damn catchy vocal melody sees the band really lean hard into their symphonic metal roots. The verse afterwards is fantastic; the tribal, slow drums coming back on their own behind the vocals and letting Lee go for it vocally. Lee’s vocal lines almost sounding a little like something Maynard James Keenan would come up with. Thinking about it, damn do I want to see an Evanescence/Tool collab, how good would that be?! After the chorus, the track drops down again and we get some building of various vocal harmonies that almost give an acapella effect behind Lee’s main vocals. This was another fantastic song and is 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 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 a definite highlight of the track.
‘Far From Heaven’ is another beautiful, slow piano ballad. 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’ levels of beautifully haunting and hauntingly 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.
‘Part of Me’ picks up the heaviness again, bursting straight into a heavy guitar and drum lead verse and Lee’s vocals fitting perfectly in over the top as usual. 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 be listening to a lot more after this, but I just don’t have anything different to say. 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 – at least it wasn’t a whimper of a closer!
Overall: This album is fantastic. I am honestly blown away by a good four or five songs on this album, something that I wasn’t expecting but I was happy to experience. This may actually be their best album since their debut and yes, you can quote me on that. I’ll be happily listening to The Bitter Truth on repeat over the next few months so that should say it all really.
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