by Dan Grote
Just when nu metal was being declared stale
and last year’s news, this two-piece cum four-piece from Arkansas comes
along and changes up the formula by… having a female lead singer. Granted,
Amy Lee is not the first female to die her hair black and start screaming
about the pain of life. There have been a handful of females in other metal
acts over the past few years in bands like Drain STH, Snake River Conspiracy,
and Coal Chamber.
Here’s the difference though: Evanescence
is the band most geared towards both modern rock and top 40 airplay. With
their familiar chugga-chugga guitars and rocker-chick female presence,
the band has been well-tooled to draw a crowd.
Evanescence centers around vocalist Lee
and guitarist Ben Moody. Beyond them are a Wind-up Records-funded army
of studio and touring musicians, including drums by A Perfect Circle drummer
Josh Freese. All this leads to songs like the band’s smash Daredevil-boosted
single “Bring Me to Life,” given that extra-special rap metal edge by Paul
McCoy of 12 Stones (“Broken”).
“Bring Me to Life,” partnered with the
album’s opening track, “Going Under,” set the tone for Fallen by pounding
on the guitars as hard as possible, while Lee sings about pain, nothingness,
a desperate need for salvation, and on “Tourniquet,” a drug addiction she
probably doesn’t have.
The difference on Fallen lies in the ballads.
“My Immortal” takes the listener by surprise as the guitars and drums go
away, leaving Lee to sing her dark little choirgirl’s heart out over David
Hodges’ quiet storm keyboards. It becomes clear here, and later on “Hello,”
that Evanescence is Lee’s show, despite the fact that her show has a dubiously
large production budget.
VERDICT: If Evanescence were a full band,
it might perhaps be easier to trust their authenticity. However, with a
debut album replete with choral back-ups, celebrity drummers, and hired
gun piano players (when Lee herself has piano training) that could only
have been affordable through Wind-up’s “Creed made us stinking rich” fund,
it’s easy to assume that somebody found Lee on the street and threw her
in the studio with half of Linkin Park. The only thing that makes Lee and
Evanescence believable are Lee’s solo ballads and the fact that she screams
only once in eleven songs on the entire album, a reminder that Lee herself
isn’t trying too hard.
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