Evanescence – The Open Door

22/12/2006 § Leave a comment

For many people Evanescence is still a taboo word. Metal fans, and those that think they know their metal well, are a notoriously picky lot. It seems that the more complex the music you listen to – the more inaccessible – the more right you have to say others’ music tastes are inferior. It’s a shame that there is a sense of hierarchy within the music fanhood. Those mainstream bands that are actually good get instantly overlooked, reasons ranging from because they are popular to because some avaricious record company has put their videos on television, even though television is seen as a less popular pastime than it used to be. Television watching, especially among the younger generation, has become replaced with internet chatting, trolling, flaming, flirting and exchanging views in a virtual arena. And what better way to vent than over a popular Gothic rock band like Evanescence.

Already we’ve struck gold here, punctured a valve and blown a gasket. A lot of people would argue that there is nothing Gothic about Evanescence, though one could posit that they’re not as Gothic as they used to be. Fallen was most certainly a Gothic album, although honed to mainstream perfection. The choirs, strings, female vocals and melancholy song topics were all a popular Gothic album needed and it was the neat Gothics, the sanctimonious prima-donnas of the scene that would disregard any idea of such a band infecting their space. In this way, Evanescence suffered very much from the Slipknot syndrome. The music they made wasn’t actually bad, but many people had trouble segregating the music from its popularity and fan demographic. It’s tempting to think that if a lot of music fans didn’t know the fame of Evanescence, the band would, ironically, become even more popular.

And that’s exactly what Evanescence deserve to be. Five years of trouble, break-ups and religious banter after Fallen, the band finally managed to put out their much anticipated and fawned over sophomore studio album after their label had to fill the gap by judiciously releasing umpteen live albums and reissues. But when the thing actually hit the market, it was clear that Evanescence hadn’t done a bad job at all. The Open Door is not too much like Fallen, but then it was never going to be. No album is a carbon copy of its predecessor even though it was clear that Fallen cornered the market and that certain elements created a new popular formula. Evanescence have spoiled us with this new record. The Open Door is a very good and rounded CD which is sure to not only please current fans, but also those who have a passing interest in the band.

The Open Door’s true success comes from the shortness of the songs, the catchy choruses and the strength and feeling behind Amy’s voice. At times I was very impressed with listening to her and out of all the singers in the female-fronted metal genre, I am surprised that she isn’t given more credit. Her tone on many of the songs here is sharp, focused and mostly flawless and it’s hard to think of many singers one can say that about. Songs like Sweet Sacrifice, Weight Of The World, Lithium and Cloud Nine are all perfect Evanescence numbers, whereby Good Enough has the closest My Immortal feel about it, even though I couldn’t help feeling that it was somewhat an excuse for Amy to show her range off and it’s hard to deduce at such times whether the song’s emphasis is itself or the singer.

Unfortunately, as the album wears on it does become a little difficult to listen to in places. Like You and Lose Control are quite dull and lifeless, whereby I couldn’t say such a thing about any of the tracks on Fallen, which seemed to hit the mark every time. The first two thirds of The Open Door are more or less as perfect as an Evanescence album could be but after a while the lack of variety sets in and by the time I got to The Only One I couldn’t help feeling that Amy had used the same chord progressions, closed her eyes and shuffled them around.

Evanescence will always get a hard time of it even though they have brought a lot of fans into metal through the female-fronted side door. Some of the Dream Theater and Atrox fans will scoff at records like this but its vital to take Evanescence in their own context. The rock on this album is very well done, as well as thought-provoking, powerful and even emotional at times, though it’s a shame that a few of the songs seem to mirror others so closely. Overall though, the band have proved themselves admirably with this release and have overcome not only personal hardships but the expectations within the scene. Evanescence deserve to do well and as long as they don’t become too complacent, we should follow them with close and grateful interest.

7.5/10

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