Review Summary: Nothing new here, for obvious reasons.
There's something almost funny about Evanescence's decision to self-title their third album. With countless lineup changes over the past few years which culminated in the departure of all but one original member, the very concept of Evanescence as an ensemble has seemed almost irrelevant for quite some time now. When factored in with the countless recording and songwriting delays the “group” has faced since the release of their sophomore album The Open Door back in 2006, the return of Evanescence as anything but a rather shaky life support for frontwoman Amy Lee's sizable ego seemed all but impossible. Even the ensemble's most diehard eventually got tired of waiting for the band to come up with something new and instead set their sights on a solo record from the group's lead vocalist. Then, against all odds, the ensemble finally announced the impending release of a new record for the first time in five years.
On the whole, the music of Evanescence the album seems to be the logical next step in the evolution of Evanescence the band. Whereas their first release consisted of enjoyable but relatively safe gothic pop while its follow-up saw track after track of meandering, directionless “epic” sounds, this new album includes a mix of songs which fall somewhere between the two extremes. Hook-driven opening number and lead single “What You Want” is in many ways reminiscent of “Bring Me To Life” and “Everybody's Fool”, while another early track, “The Change” falls dangerously close to the territory of the weakest selections from The Open Door. All of the love, death, and angst which have spanned Evanescence's catalog since the group's inception are back in full force, combined here with occasional hints of rebellion.
Despite Amy Lee's insistence that Evanescence would be the band's most group-oriented release to date, there's really nothing new here in terms of the composition of each individual track. The basic formula for Evanescence's success has always been quite evident – the instrumentalists play some technically decent but forgettable stuff, Lee layers her melodramatic vocals on top, and teenage fangirls everywhere run out and buy millions of records – and it still applies here with very little variation. It is this aspect of the band's music which forms the very core of what Evanescence is.
History has proven over and over again that, regardless of what every interview with the band in recent years has tried to convey, virtually every member of this ensemble is replaceable, with the sole exception of Lee herself. It isn't the guitars, drums, or basses that have continued to keep interest in this ensemble alive. It's the angry girl with the iconic voice who has always (despite what some long-term fans from the ensemble's early days continue to insist) been the face of Evanescence, and, indeed, of her genre as a whole. It is for this reason that Evanescence sounds so much like the group's earlier releases, despite the numerous changes in the band's lineup. Amy Lee was, is, and always will be at the very heart of Evanescence, and as long as she stays involved, the band itself is never really going to change.