Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Review of Evanescence’s The Open Door

Before I go into anything, let me mention that I am a gigantic Evanescence fan. I love rock music, and when I saw the video for Bring Me To Life late at night on MTV, I immediately went out and bought their first studio album, Fallen. I was ecstatic about the idea of a rock band with a talented female singer. The piano mixed in with the rest of the band on the songs was also another plus for me.

But this isn’t a review of Fallen. It’s been three years since that album was released, and I was very eagerly awaiting a new CD for many months, and it didn’t come. So when I heard that they were releasing a new album soon, I was excited. After so long of hearing absolutely nothing from them, it has to be amazing, right?

Co-founder and lead guitarist Ben Moody left the band at some point during the years between Fallen and The Open Door. I had hoped this wouldn’t affect the quality of their music too much (I knew that it would probably affect the sound, but I don’t mind a little different sound on a band), but I was wrong. Evanescence is seriously lacking without Ben Moody, and it’s very hard to describe on some level. Gone is the creative tension and magnificent mixing of guitar, piano and female voice found on Fallen.

The Open Door is not a bad album. But it’s more like an Amy Lee solo album than an Evanescence album. Her vocals are pumped way up over the other instruments or vocals. It also seems like the entire album is a “hey, look at how loud and pretty I can belt!” rather than an artistic collaboration of everyone. Her vocals are also very static—which is part of the comment about it being a show off CD. She very rarely drops into quiet, whispery singing. There is no variation.

And that is the big issue with the entire CD. If you don’t listen to the beginning of each song, by the middle of all the songs it begins to sound like the song before. The mixture of the music and vocals is part of this problem; when the heavy rock sound kicks in, Amy Lee’s vocals drown it out. In Fallen when the heavy parts of the song kicked in, they temporarily pounded over Lee’s voice. This gave the songs a change in the feel and tempo so it didn’t become repetitious. There is nothing like that on this new album.

There are some good songs and interesting mixtures of piano, violins, choirs, and distortion, but you can barely hear the music behind Lee’s singing to listen to the intricacies. “Lithium” and “Lacrymosa” are both interesting songs; “Lithium” is the song on this album that comes the closest to Evanescence’s old sound. I also miss the distinctive harmony that Lee’s voice and Moody’s distorted guitar made. It’s not just because the vocals are turned way up; the new guitarist doesn’t do the almost discordant note compliments to Lee’s vocals.

Unfortunately, this is not a different CD from a favorite band that slowly grows on you the more you listen to it. The Open Door is more grating and repetitious the more it plays.

All in all, I give it 3.0 quills out of 5.0. It won’t stay in my CD player for days like Fallen did. I know many of their fans like this album better than their first, but I’m not one of them. I’d say borrow it before you buy it to see whether the music engages you or not.

“Lithium—don’t want to lock me up inside
lithium—don’t want to forget
how it feels without
lithium—I want to stay in love
with my sorrow
oh but God I want to let it go…”

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