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Evanescence - The Bitter Truth Award winner

The Bitter Truth
by Kevin Lewis at 05 April 2021, 5:55 PM

EVANESCENCE is a band formed in Arkansas in 1995. After almost a decade without record of all new material, they have some storming back with a new offering that is instantly recognizable as EVANESCENCE. It isn’t just Amy Lee’s vocals; it is the entire package that is quintessentially them. The goth/nu/industrial/alt rock and metal hybrid is uniquely theirs. "The Bitter Truth" was released on BMG February 12, 2021.

There are twelve tracks with over forty-five minutes of killer new tunes. Starting off with an ethereal intro that features some haunting vocals, it begins building at the halfway point prior to launching into full on aural assault. One of the many things EVANESCENCE has established as part of their signature sound is the ability to lead from song to the next by foreshadowing what is to come without giving it away until the time is right.

Artifact/The Turn” does just that when leading into “Broken Pieces Shine”. Going from the sublime tones to a pounding drum rhythm that features a driving bass line, the set up is exquisite. Fueled by Amy’s vocals, “Broken Pieces Shine” wavers between low-end powerhouse to soaring melodic Metal.

Yeah Right” has that Industrial feel right at the beginning with the keyboard melody. That tone underlies the whole song, but stands out for the verse. The chorus adds more instrumentation and builds up nicely, giving the listener a really full sound that fades at the end into a whisper. Lyrically, the song depicts the frustration of having to alter what and who you are, specifically as a rock star in this instance, to be acceptable to the masses and the disappointment that causes in the long run. That fade to the whisper at the end really amplifies that realization beautifully.

Another thing EVANESCENCE does well is telling you how they feel. This is abundantly evident in both “Wasted On You” and “Better Without You”. “Wasted On You” feels like trying to get over a loss and not really handling it too well, yet. “Better Without You” is a dig at the music industry and the men who think they run it. Micro-management and over meddling by executives have probably ruined more good music than anything else. I’m not going to say this song is railing against “mansplaining”, but if the shoe fits…

Continuing that theme, “Take Cover” is about the after-effect of being pushed down, forced to stand in the background while someone else’s insecurities run the show. The attitude of coming back to claim the throne and take charge of your own life is inspiring. Everyone who struggles under incompetent management will be able to identify with this song. Especially if they have successfully gotten out of that toxic environment.

Far From Heaven” is another eerie, ethereal song with a haunting melody that is just beautifully done. With the song being about loss and the feeling of alienation the evokes, the use of a piano, keyboards and orchestration to set that mood is fitting. The counterpart to this song comes next in the shape of “Part Of Me”. Hard driving and full of guitars, bass and drums, “Part Of Me” is the other end of the EVANESCENCE spectrum.

The last song on the record is “Blind Belief,” a heavy song about getting rid of the old guard and setting a new course. The old needs to be analyzed and adjusted to fit the new norms. People change, and as that happens on an individual level, it also shapes the way society interacts with each other. What was acceptable last decade, last year, even last week, may not be appropriate now. No more bullying through, it is time to change course and do better.

According to an interview with NPR Radio, Amy Lee and the band used the pandemic and lockdown as a time to exorcise some demons and get their thoughts and feelings together. Nowhere is that more obvious than on the anthemic song “Use My Voice”. Featuring an all-star choir that includes some of the best-known women in Rock and Metal, the song is powerful, massive and inspiring.

Starting with a piano and Amy, the song then gets big, drops to subdued, then soars again. Lyrically, the song is about having difficult conversations and making yourself heard. With lines like, “Drown every truth in an ocean of lies/Label me bitch because I dare to draw my own line” it is fairly evident that the oppressed are tired of being overshadowed with rhetoric. That ends now and her voice WILL be heard.

2020 was a brutal year and this album feels like a direct result of that time. The frustration of all the racial injustice, political enmity, social inequality and victimization of already oppressed peoples boiled over in a year of protests and attempts to silence those who wanted to speak up, who dared to demand equality. “Use My Voice” is a song that bottles all that up and urges us, all of us, to speak out and speak up.

EVANESCENCE has emerged from 2020 with a fiery vengeance and looks to dominate 2021 with a message of “join us as we fight for fairness and equality”. They have pushed the envelope here and done so in magnificent form.

Jen Majura and Troy McLawhorn are two incredibly talented guitarists who proved on this record that guitar gods are still alive and kicking. Will Hunt and Tim McCord are one of the most solid rhythm sections in the business, providing depth and style to timekeeping. Amy Lee is as good now as she has ever been. Her ability to go from haunted to soaring is incredible. Add in the choir and orchestration and you have a great record. Start to finish, this is EVANESCENCE at their collective best.

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 10

5 Star Rating

1. Artifact/The Turn
2. Broken Pieces Shine
3. The Game Is Over
4. Yeah Right
5. Feeding The Dark
6. Wasted On You
7. Better Without You
8. Use My Voice
9. Take Cover
10. Far From Heaven
11. Part Of Me
12. Blind Belief

Amy Lee – Lead Vocals/Piano/Keyboards/Additional Programming
Tim McCord – Bass
Will Hunt – Drums
Troy McLawhorn – Guitar
Jen Majura – Guitar/Backing Vocals
Record Label: BMG


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