Review by Paul Monkhouse for MPM
Amy Lee has always been a woman with a singular vision. Whilst the current global pandemic might have slowed it down, it certainly hasn’t derailed it and, in fact, the circumstances have proved productive as new material has been written and honed in the meantime.
The fruits of this labour come in the form of probably the best and most cohesive album the band have released since their seismic first album ‘Fallen’, the material both fiery and showing the maturity of experience.
‘The Bitter Truth’ certainly catches the Zeitgeist, achingly current as it is, Lee giving reign to some of her most straightforward and piercing lyrics yet. There is a darkness here that goes beyond the gothic façade of a lot of the more, typically symphonic rock outfits.
There’s romanticism too, something that has always been present, but Evanescence have never fallen into the dreamy snow covered landscapes hewn from ‘Lord of the Rings’ and ‘Twilight’ that their European contemporaries seem to be able to automatically drift into.
There’s always been something so much more grounded and relatable in their music, that earthiness making the big difference, irrespective of just how high flying and grandiose the music was.
Whilst the line-up has had it’s ins and outs over the past few years, this current formation stands as arguably its strongest. Behind Lee, powerhouse drummer Will Hunt is an engine who just won’t cease, hitting hard but also with great verve, his partner in the rhythm section Tim McCord effortlessly cool and stylish.
The six string partnership between long-time collaborator Troy McLawhorn and more recent recruit Jen Majura adds it’s own magic too, the latter bringing the added bonus of a voice that compliments and bolsters Lee’s perfectly. This chemistry between the quintet was perfectly illustrated by the recent live-stream from their Nashville studio, the energy and joy at playing live again captured in this new release.
From the atmospheric intro of ‘Artifact / The Turn’ and onto the first full track, the huge sounding ‘Broken Pieces Shine’, you know you’re in safe hands.
There’s something both familiar and thrilling when you hear ‘that’ voice, an instrument in itself, it entices, soars and then eviscerates with equal ease. She proves herself to be no slouch on the keys either, her playing full of deft touches that take you by surprise with little sonic fireworks that light up the sky.
This bag of tricks litter the album, making it one that’s a joy to listen to as it unfolds. ‘The Game Is Over’ drips with atmosphere, its barely controlled viciousness revealed in the barbs of the riffs as it pummels you into submission, whilst, in contrast, with it’s almost electro pop intro, ‘Yeah Right’ keeps on moving into bouncy rock territory.
The band, along with producer Nick Raskulinecz, weave an ever shifting tapestry of sound and moods throughout, from the Vampiric ‘Feeding The Dark’ to the twisted playground of lead single ‘Wasted On You’ with its switch between the desolate and forthright.
In amongst the tough rockers like ‘Better without You’ and ‘Part Of Me’, the band haven’t forgotten how to really lean into their more orchestral, cathedral of sound side as ‘Take Cover’ proves, urgent and knowingly cool but somehow fragile.
Ticking the box for the big ballad, ‘Far From Heaven’ is a showstopper but the best track on the album comes in the form of ‘Use My Voice’. If ever Evanescence have gone with the intention of writing a stadium filling anthem, then this is it. Ballsy, multi-layered and a roar of defiance, this will prove to be a monster when played live.
Evanescence seem to be a band able to be in the right place at the right time, their debut breaking ground globally and with ‘The Bitter Truth’ they’ve constructed something for our time. Truth be told though, the writing, performances and production on the album mark it out to be something that inspires jaw dropping devotion long after we’ve passed this remarkable period in our history and that’s how it should be. This is glorious.
Pre-order ‘The Bitter Truth’: https://evanescence.lnk.to/TheBitterT…