Since 2003, the name Evanescence has inspired a plethora of reactions and thoughts. Initially the transformational act wowed the Rock world with their debut album, Fallen, which garnered the band six Grammy nominations. Impressively, the LP secured them two wins for “Best New Artist” and “Best Hard Rock Performance” for their single “Bring Me To Life,” which was featured on the Daredevil soundtrack.
From humble beginnings in Little Rock, AR, Evanescence began as the brainchild of Vocalist Amy Lee and Guitarist Ben Moody. Despite several line-up changes over the years, including the early departure of Moody and the later departure of long-time Guitarist Terry Balsamo, Evanescence continued to see success in the aftermath of their phenomenal debut.
Now with a current lineup consisting of Troy McLawhorn (guitar), Jen Majura (backing vocals, guitar), Tim McCord (bass), Will Hunt (drums), and the incomparable Amy Lee (vocals), Evanescence is ready to break out once again and share their journey with the world on The Bitter Truth, released Friday, March 26, 2021 via BMG.
Starting things off is the wispy and near ghostly “Artifact/The Turn,” which introduces the listener to the new vibes of Evanescence on this album. This is a quick intro that leads directly into “Broken Pieces Shine,” a track that opens with a thunderous percussion that comes crashing in right at the top and dominates the senses. Paired with Lee’s ethereal and haunting vocals, the song is simultaneously cool and driven; it swells, ebbs, and flows like the tide, bathing the listener in a rich tapestry of symphonic Hard Rock. Lyrically this song shines with its tone of persistence and determination in the face of adversity. Much like how many people were in a fight for survival over the last year in the wake of a global pandemic, here Lee sings of what it takes to have the will to survive.
“The Game Is Over” continues the tone of survival and fight or flight with its snappy snares and rich chords which inspire feelings of both hope and pain. Here Lee sings of transformation and the desire to change in order to move through her pain and the things that would otherwise weigh her down.
In “Yeah Right” the listener is privy to some nice biting sarcasm and social criticism in what feels like an attack on society, and more specifically, the music industry. From the end of the first verse where Lee says “Happiness can be hard to find, I’m so slap silly happy everybody wants to take mine” to the chorus of “Someday/we’ll get paid more than it was worth to sell our souls/Yeah right” this track pulls no punches in its messaging. Instrumentally it’s an amalgamation of the classic Hard Rock sound with an overall orchestral vibe not dissimilar to their work on Synthesis with some Pop inclinations. Collectively this creates an energy that is delightfully snarky and engaging.
“Feeding the Dark” has “Bring Me To Life” vibes with the crunchy guitar sound and the dynamics of Lee’s vocals from soft to soaring. “Wasted On You” is a beautiful lament that was likely the inspiration for the album title, as the lyrics describe the breakdown of a relationship, and the painful realization that they are at an impasse as things are crumbling around them and they’re unable to face it. This is described in the chorus with the lyrics, “Feels like we’re frozen in time/I’m wasted on you/Just pass me the bitter truth.”
Displaying those powerhouse vocals in “Better Without You,” Lee’s talents are unparalleled. Similarly, the strong work of Majura and McLawhorn pairs perfectly here with the sharpness of Hunt’s percussion, creating a hard-driven anthem that is both compelling and rousing. This runs right into “Use My Voice,” a song that explores both the gossamer and full aspects of Lee’s voice. At times gentle and almost preternatural, and at other times stern and powerful, this track is an uplifting ode to self-assertion.
Nearing the end of the album comes “Part Of Me” where the grit and dexterity of McLawhorn, McCord, and Majura is on full display in the way their instruments meld to create elements of crunch and fortitude that transition into more delicate and diaphanous moments with ease. Finally, closing this chapter in their history is “Blind Belief.” Here they bring to light how society can break the generational curse of willful ignorance by realizing the mistakes of our forefathers and pursuing a better future with fresh ideas—together. The chorus says it all, “Blind belief are you afraid to see/That our fathers were wrong/We hold the key to redemption/Let icons fall.”
Although totally different from their previous work, The Bitter Truth is without question an essential Evanescence album through and through. With Lee’s signature vocals at the helm, the Goth Rock esthetic at its core, and symphonic instrumental elements, everything fans have come to love about Evanescence is here but grown up a bit. The layering of sounds and astute songwriting skills are what really give this album its soul. So, for intuitive songwriting, consistency, and creativity, Cryptic Rock gives The Bitter Truth 4 out of 5 starts.