When people say they’ve never listened to Evanescence, they are probably lying. It was impossible to escape the edgy, black-haired band that exploded onto MTV’s Music Video Wakeup in the early 2000s — the videos for “Bring Me to Life” and “My Immortal” aired almost every morning. The band’s artfully executed sadness took over America’s morning routine, and we happily ate our cereal in front of images of dark, broken skyscrapers and people crying in the tops of trees. There was something refreshing about the gloomy music, especially compared to the other alternative hits at the time — after all, even watching a music video featuring Seether in a graveyard is a better option than one by Bowling for Soup.



The golden age of Evanescence and its pessimistic tunes didn’t last forever, though. Except for a soundtrack deal with Disney’s “The Chronicles of Narnia” (later rebuked because it sounded too dark), the band has been relatively quiet on the music front — that is, until now. The band’s first album release in five years, the self-titled Evanescence serves as proof that its artistic misery can never die. In fact, “bordering on overkill” might be a more likely possibility.

The first track, “What You Want,” brings the album to a promising start, as the rapid drumbeats charge the song with fiery passion. The instrumentals are fierce and energetic, but lead singer Amy Lee’s voice stands high above them; its strong but sad power overshadows every guitar growl and piano key. It’s easy to fall into the track’s bold components and the emotions they invoke, covering the full spectrum of negative feelings in just four minutes. Listeners are dragged between feelings of empowerment and vulnerability, all thanks to the low, churning bass and Lee’s unending wails.

That tough-but-sensitive vibe permeates the rest of the album as well. Songs like “Made of Stone” fluctuate between head-banging guitars and soft piano interludes, and the range makes for a more honest and exciting set of songs. One minute you could be cursing anyone who’s wronged you, and the next, hanging your head in sorrow.

It’s exciting until the fifth or sixth time such a change occurs on the album — then it’s just old news. Near the middle of Evanescence, every track feels vaguely identical, wallowing in the same sounds and unhappy tones as the one that came before it. At that point, the roaring guitars have lost their edge. The moody, quiet piano isn’t as mystifying as it used to be. Even Lee’s voice starts to sound more obnoxious than captivating. Without a break from the angry jolts and sadness, everything fades into a corny blur — unfixable by even a music video filmed in sepia tones and featuring Seether’s long, greasy hair.

There is a time and a place for rage and despair in music — but maybe not an entire album. Despite a strong beginning, Evanescence pulls itself into its own shadows, crossing that line between “this is kind of cool” and “this is kind of a drag.” Hopefully Evanescence has ended its cinematic career because Disney won’t be calling about soundtrack deals anytime soon.

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