Review Summary: Post-hardcore done right.
Merriam-Webster defines "evanesce" as "to dissipate like vapor." Unfortunately, this album title is filled with irony - following the release of Evanesce
, Anatomy of a Ghost not only dissipated as a band, but also in terms of eminence into obscurity (especially considering that the remnants of this band formed the indie leviathan known as Portugal. the Man
). It's quite a shame, too, as Evanesce
reflects a band capable of drawing from various cross-genre influences while maintaining a central sound and poignantly effective song structures.
Utilizing vast dynamic and textural variation, Anatomy of a Ghost creates an emotional roller coaster of post-hardcoreness. As far as aesthetics go, the drummer is quite tasteful, closely resembling early Coheed and Cambria
, while the battery of overdubbed screams, in contrast to the prominent soft passages' understated clean vocals, overwhelm the listener with emotion. The album seems to, on paper, have all the essential elements for a genre-defining classic; yet there are several suspect factors holding it back.
It has been said that music can be broken into three quintessential parts: melody, harmony, and rhythm. Within this musical triumvirate, there exists a hierarchy of prominence that must be observed in the crafting of an effective song. It appears to be quite evident that the man behind the mixing board was unaware of this. With every brilliantly constructed, soaring chorus, Anatomy of a Ghost provides us with a strong vocal melody, an equally strong lead guitar harmony, and rhythm guitar behind it all. Yet the lead guitar far
too often supersedes the rest of the band in terms of volume at the worst possible times, resulting in a dramatic loss of impact. Beyond mixing quality, though, this seems to be the occasional downfall of the band; they tend to focus too much on harmony, which can at times overpower the melody. Certainly, the songs have passages in which the lead guitar takes over and deserves to be in the front - every single chorus, however, is not the time nor place. The rest of the mixing is terribly inconsistent which, sadly, greatly compromises the album's quality.
A nearly 9-minute long post-hardcore song may seem quite daunting in concept. But, hark! Anatomy of a Ghost pulls it off with their expertise in expanding upon musical themes to the listener's heart's content. A major benefit of lacking overproduction is the "human" subtleties within the album, which are skillfully spread throughout each song, effectively connecting and relating the listener to John Gourley's (and the other vocalist's/overdub's) ever-emotional vocal pleas. A perfect example is in the album's heaviest offering, "Beauty is in its Embrace" (which is notable for the album's only breakdown), in which at 3:25, a short, a cappella-style entrance of three ascending screams lashes out before breaking back into the all-the-more-impacting, laid back groove. Another example lies within "In Case of Future Complications", which is arguably the album's strongest track. The chorus's emotional vocals are the highlight of the album, with subtle vocal overdubs laden throughout - a staple of the album - making it a truly monumental listen.
It is quite unfortunate that this album IS the band's discography; not to play the hypothetical review game, but it appears likely that the flaws keeping the album from true greatness would be solved on a sophomore effort. Nonetheless, if you're into post-hardcore (the most accurate aesthetic comparison I could give would be a more raw, less pop-influenced early Coheed and Cambria
) and don't mind slight production flaws, this is a must-listen, and a heretically unknown release.