Review: Evanescence – ‘The Bitter Truth’

‘The Bitter Truth’, the first album of original Evanescence material in ten years, is most certainly a result of the fractious and divided state of affairs in the modern-day world, or more specifically, the clown show that has just ended in America. This is Amy Lee at her most politically charged and is the sound of an artist who has had enough on the sidelines, and is using her platform to try and make a difference. To be heard.

Thanks to the wonderfully emotive vocals of Amy Lee, and sweeping arrangements, Evanescence has one of the most recognizable signature sounds around today. You can tell it’s Evanescence within seconds and ‘The Bitter Truth’ is an album full of “classic” moments (could the mesmerizing ‘Far From Heaven’ be anyone but Evanescence?) that should have longtime fans purring with delight.

Once the fragile, new-age intro ‘Artifact/The Turn’ fades out, ‘Broken Pieces Shine’ kicks in with a “3-2-1-0” countdown, Will Hunt beats out a rhythmic, pulsing sound on his drums, and the expected explosion of sound doesn’t appear. Instead of a more traditional, full-pelt album opener, the band plays it slow and steady and lets the song breathe, as Lee’s trademark vocals take over. It’s a slow-burning few minutes and the sign of a band doing things their own way. Bassist Tim McCord gets in on the act during the early stages of ‘The Game Is Over’ which features some fiery riffage from guitarists Troy McLawhorn and Jen Majura, the breakdown midsong is especially memorable and chockful of Jerry Cantrell-sized guitar breaks. Even though there is no disputing that Evanescence is very much Amy Lee’s vehicle, there is still a strong “band” vibe throughout. Lee’s vocals simply soar on ‘The Game Is Over’, and at times it’s almost as if she has plenty left in reserve.

Mixing with the more traditional Evanescence moments, such as ‘Better Without You’ and ‘Take Cover’ (the latter features some big-ass bass licks from Tim McCord on one of the heavier tracks on the album), are left-field choices such as ‘Yeah Right’, which features a light, electronic intro that gives way to a bouncy few minutes that you might expect from Muse, and ‘Wasted On You’, which if you strip away the arrangements, has a Motown swing to it. Close your eyes and listen to Will Hunt’s drum sound; straight outta Detroit.

‘Use My Voice’ is the main cornerstone of the album. A track born out of the Stanford University sexual assault case in America where Brock Turner was given an extremely lenient sentence for sexually assaulting a female while she was unconscious. The case was also infamous for the comment from Turner’s father in which he compared the case to “…20 minutes of action…”. Turner’s victim, Chanel Miller, made her victim impact statement at the sentencing hearing, and her words to Turner that the only thing he could not take away was her voice, hit home with Amy Lee and inspired the track. Lee teamed up with HeadCount (a non-partisan organization that uses the power of music to register voters and promote participation in democracy) and urged young people to use their voice, and vote. With artists like Lzzy Hale, Taylor Momsen, and Sharon den Adel providing backing vocals, it’s an empowering call-to-arms and given the recent events in London, and the UK government trying to push through regulation where an act of vandalism could receive a harsher sentence than an assault, one sadly all too topical.

It’s been 18 years since Evanescence broke out with the multi-platinum debut album ‘Fallen’, and Amy Lee has never sounded as good, or as relevant, as she does on ‘The Bitter Truth’. An emotional listening experience awaits the legions of Evanescence fans.

Available March 26th, pre-order here.  

The quarantined-creation of the album is also chronicled in a new documentary, ‘Evanescence: Embracing The Bitter Truth’ directed by Adam Jones and out today via The Coda Collection, the music-centric streaming channel on Amazon Prime Video. Capturing the album’s genesis from the band’s last (planned) live show in December 2019 and its literal destruction by fire to the mostly-remote mixing and completion processes, the documentary is necessary viewing for fans and anyone looking to understand how art is created in a pandemic era.

To watch the documentary and to sign up for a free 7-day Coda Collection trial, visit www.codacollection.co.

Photo credit – Nick Fancher

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