After a long decade, 2021 welcomes ‘The Bitter Truth’ from hard rock veterans Evanescence. This year has definitely been one of bitterness, truth and change; especially for the music industry, and it is only March. Evanescence have experienced all of this first-hand, having to record the majority of the album during restrictions. Their last album ‘Synthesis’ was released in 2017, so it’s an understatement to say we’re starved for content.
‘Artifact/The Turn’ opens with a melodic electronic beat shortly accompanied by Amy Lee’s signature, haunting vocals – this opening is vastly different to the rest of the album and as it evolves into the Evanescence we all know and love it’s the perfect intro to the album. ‘Broken Pieces Shine’ is completely back to quintessential Evanescence. Despite Lee being the last founding member, this sounds like an old song. For those not familiar with that (have you been living under a rock?), it’s reminiscent of their 2006 record ‘The Open Door,’ a mixture of hard-hitting drums and softer guitars, topped off with poetic lyrics chocked full of metaphors. Following in this vain, single, ‘The Game Is Over’ is also heavy to its core, with a hypnotising repetitive bassline. ‘Yeah Right’ is the grungy, angsty track of the album, which sees Lee’s voice soar, showing her true versatility. However, even her voice cannot make up for the production. Perhaps lockdown restrictions hindered this, but in most songs it feels as if Lee’s voice is drowned out by the rest of the band.
‘Feeding The Dark’ attempts to bring Lee’s voice back to the forefront and succeeds even when the drums kick in. It is the fairy tale song, just like prior offering ‘Imaginary’ or even ‘Haunted.’ It starts in the same way, fantastical and vocal-led, then builds with the crashing drums and explosive guitars, like a true story. First single ‘Wasted On You’ is the most pop song on the record, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Evanescence are no strangers to mainstream music. But this does not seem to fit with the rest of the album, whereas songs like ‘Everybody’s Fool’ became a staple on ‘Fallen,’ since they did not deviate much from Evanescence’s style and message. This is the weakest song lyrically, reminiscent of a cliché radio-friendly song, even using the love drug motif.
Gone is the young girl just starting out in the scene, scorned by former lovers. Lee is happy now, a mother; and while this doesn’t always make for great lyrics she can still make music that is emotive in a different way. Instead of speaking of her own injustices, she speaks for everyone else. There are still voices that need to be heard, which is exactly what ‘Use My Voice’ details. This politically charged anthem couldn’t have come at a better time. The track also features female vocalists like Lzzy Hale and Taylor Momsen, and even Lee’s own sisters, but, if not told this beforehand, then there would be no way to distinguish them. It’s a great track but if I was to have a criticism it’s that this track feels like a wasted opportunity, and the voices could’ve been utilised more, not just as background noise.
Next, ‘Far From Heaven’ starts with strings and piano, instantly gives us that warming, comforting feeling we didn’t know we needed. Maybe that stems from the lighters you’d feel in the air when this song is eventually played live. It doesn’t reach ‘My Immortal’ heights, or even ‘Lost in Paradise,’ but it falls just below them in the piano-led ballads ranking. Like the aforementioned songs, a live experience is needed, where Amy leads everyone in an emotional singalong.
All in all, this album definitely satisfied fans’ hunger for new Evanescence material. However, it is hard not to compare this to earlier material and put it on a pedestal. Maybe if you weren’t a true old school Evanescence fan then this won’t be for you. But then again, who wasn’t?