The Return of Evanescence

After a five year hiatus following the massively successful Fallen and The Open Door, goth-rock unit Evanescence, armed with new members, quietly released its eponymous third studio album on October 11. The opening track and first single “What You Want,” while a solid track (and even a good one for a less-established band), is largely unimpressive in comparison with “Going Under” and “Sweet Sacrifice,” the much bolder album openers on Fallen and The Open Door, respectively. A better choice would have been sixth track “Erase This,” which is high-energy from the outset and far more reminiscent of past Evanescence albums than any other song on this record. Chronologically, Evanescence first begins to pick up on the fourth track and second single, “My Heart is Broken,” which deftly weaves a haunting piano melody into the characteristic metal-tinged instrumentals and frontwoman Amy Lee’s sweeping vocals. Later, the beginning of “Lost in Paradise” is uncannily simi­lar to Fallen’s “My Immortal,” although the track soon incorporates other instrumentals with a deftness and skill that implies significant musical growth from their first album without entirely abandoning their much-beloved previous style. In general, tracks like “What You Want” and “Sick” point to a greater dependence upon repetitiveness than in past musical efforts, with mixed results. Though the rhythm may be appealing, the songs seem to drag on after a while.

That’s not to say, though, that some attempts at musical growth were not without success; back-to-back tracks “Oceans” and “Never Go Back,” for example, are each a perfect blend of old-meets-new Evanescence, combining poignant lyrics, lush, layered vocals and instrumentals bordering on heavy. Unlike the minor musical experimentation present in the other tracks, however, final track “Swimming Home” represents a major de­parture from the Evanescence millions of fans worldwide have grown to know and love. The band abandons their traditional dark lyrics and music for an airy midtempo number relying heavily on Lee’s vocal prowess. (Fans of old-school Evanescence will appreciate the four bonus tracks present on the deluxe ver­sion of the album, all of which – particularly the first three – adhere far more to the band’s traditional musical style than most of the other new material.)

Overall, there’s no significant musical growth or departure on this self-titled third effort – just a lot of mild experimenta­tion resulting in a set that will be just refreshing enough for longtime fans while not changing style and sound enough to alienate listeners, though the choicest tracks are buried among the others. That’s not to say that Evanescence’s newest songs are bad – they’re just similar to the old ones, but too far removed and slightly too tweaked to make as significant an impact on the world of rock, and the singles on this album lack the power and darkness that made earlier tracks like “Bring Me to Life” and “Call Me When You’re Sober” such unlikely mainstream successes. For fans willing to sift through the marginal music, though, there are a few hidden gems.

Contact Alanna Weissman at [email protected].