Don’t You Look So Surprised
Fallen was an auspicious debut for Evanescence. Temporarily branded as a Christian group, smashing genre conventions and winning Best New Artist at the Grammysâ€šÃ„Ã®thanks to two smash singles “Bring Me To Life” and “Going Under”â€šÃ„Ã®Evanescence seemed to peak too early. Upon becoming successful, primary member (guitar player/co-songwriter) Ben Moody abruptly quit the group, prompting singer Amy Lee to hire former Cold guitarist Terry Balsamo as a touring replacement. Eventually, Balsamo became a complete songwriter with Lee for this sophomore follow-up, The Open Door.It may have been the best thing that has happened to the group. Moody’s generic nu-metal guitar playing did little to help Lee’s stellar vocals, and in some instances detracted from her glissando-based power. On The Open Door Balsamo’s playing either crunches with riff-happy power chords (“Weight of the World,” “All That I’m Living For”) or flutters with spooky effect-laden patience (“Snow White Queen,” “Like You”). Each song is punctuated appropriately, not undercut by a lesser component.
Also improved is Amy Lee’s delivery. The singer leads this album with confidence and control. When she despairs, “I want to be like you / lie cold in the ground like you,” it’s hard not to feel sympathetic. Similarly, when she punctuates each syllable of “couldn’t hide the emptiness you let it show” on “Lithium,” she stirs energy and anger.
Lee presses even further on “Lose Control,” snarling under her breath, “Just once in my life / I think it’d be nice” before wailing crisply, “to lose control / just once” against a gloriously ugly note-slide on distorted guitar. It all comes to fantastic completion on the piano-echoing-into-palm-muted riff of “Your Star,” a mâˆšÂ©lange of strings, dirty drones courtesy of DJ Lethal and a choir of backing vocals.
Ferocious, sinister, melancholy and even sexy, Evanescence has all but spit on the notion of a “sophomore slump” with astounding success, cementing the viability of female-led hard rock.