The writing is still there, ten years on from Evanescence’s last proper new studio album, as is Amy’s incredible voice. It’s a shame the end product is such a disaster.
It hurts me to write this review, it really does. Evanescence is one of my favourite bands of all time, and I listened to them almost exclusively for about three years of my life. I was so excited last year when I found out they were finally releasing a new rock album – as amazing as ‘Synthesis’ was, I think 9-10 years is a tortuously long wait for it. But then the singles came, and I couldn’t get behind it.
I wasn’t sure why I just couldn’t connect with the new music. I listened to ‘Wasted On You’ and ‘Yeah Right’ and got bored half-way through and I was disappointed. I supported the sentiments behind ‘Use My Voice’ but the actual music did nothing for me. ‘The Game Is Over’ started off punchy and lost its spark halfway through. It wasn’t until I listened to the fifth and final single, ‘Better Without You’ that I quite put my finger on it – the actual sound, not the music, but the mixing, has taken any depth and meaning out of the songs.
Being generous to the band, I could support the line of thinking that maybe they wanted to present themselves as a true five-piece, especially considering how Amy Lee has often struggled to keep a line-up together throughout their history, and that in pulling her vocals down to the same volume as the instruments it might create a more cohesive piece. But then I stopped and thought – they all have ears – why on earth would they sabotage themselves so much? Like it or not, Amy’s voice is what sets them apart from every other rock/metal band in the world.
It’s such a shame, because if production had been similar to that on their 2011 self-titled release, the songs here are good enough to be considered 10/10. ‘Yeah Right’ is genuinely different, with speedy drums alternating with a slower beat – but the bass and guitars simply don’t shine like they should. ‘Feeding the Dark’ sounds so dark and mysterious – it’s a shame it also sounds quiet and tinny. The gothic synths and effects sound like they’re playing in a different room, and once again her voice gets absolutely drowned in the guitar. The thunderous drums at the start of ‘Take Cover’ could have been truly incredible, but this is probably the track where you can tell the mixing isn’t good. It’s a shame because when I manage to hear Amy, and the music, over the noise of disappointment, this really could have been something special, well within the top top tracks of Evanescence’s history. But it just sounds parodic.
I don’t think even a re-mix could save the mess of ‘Broken Pieces Shine’, which I’m sad to say is the first skip Evanescence has produced in 26 years. I honestly don’t see what’s going on with this one – it just sounds like they’ve tried to make every Evanescence song in one and it’s come out a total shambles.
It’s not ALL bad – even if it takes until track 11 of 12 to find something which doesn’t sound like a demo. ‘Part Of Me’ isn’t exactly EV firing at all cylinders, but it’s a marked improvement on the rest of the album. This is a genuinely catchy song, and even though the execution isn’t pristine it has all the hallmarks of an Evanescence classic. I wish I could hear a few more of her words, but oh well. ‘Blind Belief’ is an emotional album closer which brings together both the metal and the ballad sides of the band well – but the same problems with the vocals come along. It’s a good job she’s holding a lot of longer notes this time round – we can’t hear anything else she’s coming out with.
If you made it to the last two songs, you’re either a hardcore fan or you probably disagree with my criticism. Whoever mixed this album shouldn’t be allowed to do it again. It’s a shame because some of these songs could have been the strongest they’ve ever made.
Ryan’s Rating: 3/10