Missing the Angst

Their first album (Fallen,2003) brought them five Grammys.

Written by Pallavi Pundir | Published: December 17, 2011 3:40:07 am

To have listened only to Evanescence’s lead vocalist Amy Lee’s guttural voice in Bring me to life,from the 2003 film Daredevil,would greatly undermine the artiste. Their first album (Fallen,2003) brought them five Grammys. The second one (The Open Door,2006) was a wondrous mix of goth,modern rock and even classical. Their third studio album,however,is an exception.

Coming with a new album after five years and promising everything from “fun” to “different” to “real and fuller”,Evanescence have taken a big step. But not a good one at that. After popular compositions like Bring me to life and My immortal and musically brilliant,Mozart-inspired Lacrymosa and Good enough,their latest self-titled venture is monotonous. Here they deviate from many of their trademarks. The strong,haunting and sometimes even mocking pieces have been replaced by maudlin confessions. The beautifully constructed lyrics have given way to rhyming sentences. And the worst? Their usual diverse instrumentation is now Black Sabbath-meets-Cradle of Filth jarring electric guitar and Bjorke-inspired electro sounds.

It starts with What you want,which is remotely close to Lee’s earlier music sensibilities. The thumping drums and heavy riffs are like a woman’s ode to hard rock,even though her voice deserves some ease. Made of stone starts off with tinkering chimes,thick,gothic orchestral chorus and even the sharp,melodramatic electric guitar. The change is replete with chugging riffs and (finally) her effortless ability to do an alto and soprano in a split. What kills this moment of tranquility is weak,pulsating music that may excite an angst-ridden teenager but not an Evanescence fan.

There is always a slow rock-ballet in Evanescence albums. My heart is broken is nothing like Hello (from Fallen) or Lose control (from The Open Door). It starts with a slow,weeping piano and progresses with drumming. But then it explodes with a combination of chorus,instruments and,from somewhere,Lee’s voice,soaring from “sorrow’s hold”. The Other side is another hard rock ode,where shouting and noise replace spunk and glamour.

Lost in paradise is a rock-ballet and perhaps the centrepiece of the album,in which Lee lapses into histrionics and wails about a “fall” from paradise. Lee is in her element when left alone with only her voice and the piano. The magic that we felt with My immortal is,however,missing.

Swimming home is a startling revelation. Slow and romantic,the song could have been a happy ending,if not for the constant “I’m sorry” echoing almost through the entire piece.

Evanescence have attempted to stay faithful to their modern rock-goth element,but have failed to squeeze out even a single non-formulaic number. Lee,who is perhaps one of the best contemporary female rock musicians,has the capability to belt out wretched torment in songs,but fails to pull it off here. Our verdict: go back to the basics.

pallavi.pundir@expressindia.com

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