Review Summary: The tunes are limp.
Evanescence must have been in a bit of a spot writing this record. Let's just take a nosedive into the reason why Evanescence's star rose so quickly: the early 2000s saw the rise of a lot of female-fronted metal, a trend in this part of the musical spectrum. Evanescence's major label debut, Fallen, featured a lot of these tunes, but presented in the form the general populace could want them: short four-minute songs that provided a competent musical base for Lee's expressive vocals to soar over. In a matter of time, Evanescence went from nobodies to everybodies. But now Moody is gone, and who was left to pick up the gauntlet? The sole responsibility of writing songs fell to the shoulders of Christian rock princess/diva/snow white queen Amy Lee, to show she was competent writing songs on her own and making teenage pseudo-angst anthems for the world and the mallcore kiddies to devour.
But here's the issue: Amy Lee doesn't write the tunes Moody does. There's just no "Imaginary" on this record, like there was on Fallen. Sure, opener Sweet Sacrifice does a good job of combining a chorus and the familiar nu-metal chug that we are used to from the band. It's a typical Evanescence song, one that fans will love just like they did the old singles. But other than that and the piano-driven track Lithium, this is just a record ripe with filler. The whole second part feels like a run-together plod of Fallen B-sides, and the heavy vocal effects on Lee's voice ("Lose Control") don't help. When I want to hear Evanescence, I want to hear Amy Lee ***ing sing, and not have her voice filtered through some kind of weird vocoder effect. It is annoying, it is useless, and it doesn't play to the strength of the band: using Lee's voice to create good rock tunes and singalong choruses.
The other issue with this record is the fanbase. The same teenage "goth" chicks that loved this band when they first came onto the scene, have probably moved on to other and/or better music, exploring the heavier reaches of this genre and possibly moved onto other parts of rock and metal. But the riffs here are still agonisingly heavy for the casual pop listener, and it seems like this is an album that falls between the ship and the dock. It's too heavy and angsty for the pop listener that wants a fun album full of good tunes, and it's too soft and weak-minded for the people that the album would otherwise cater to.
And the young teenager fanbase just shouldn't be satisfied with songs like "All that I'm Living For" or "Snow White Queen." It feels like after Lithium, the album has lost steam, and Amy Lee's diatribes about her deceased sister (Like You) or stalkers (Snow White Queen) just don't seem poignant without the melody to pervade your head. It feels like Lee is stuck in a rut: she just can't pull off the same tricks that Moody could, even with her voice sounding good, and it will mean nothing in the long run, anyway, as the band behind her turned out to be so interchangeable that in the end the sole duty of writing these tunes would have depended on Amy Lee alone anyway.
The truth is, that a song like Lithium will still make this sell a gazillion copies. There are a couple of songs on here that do work, but on the whole the filler to killer ratio is heavily unbalanced. I don't know where Evanescence will go after this with the new band, and I don't know if Amy Lee will turn out to produce something good in the future, but what comes out of this record just seems to point at an artistic death. And if you aren't writing tunes like you did in the past, that is a very disappointing notion to leave the music scene on.