Caught off guard by an unknown adversary, I truly knew not what to think. As my more civilized and intuitive senses sputtered, faltered, and then all-together failed on me, I sub-consciously slipped into a more primitive thought-pattern; a basic instinct, survival of the fittest-type of thinking that all of us have embedded in our genetic code; dormant and waiting for a time when it’s expertise is required. Having little exposure to the type of demon I was up against, such thinking had never made itself truly known in such a way before. By extension, I also knew not what to do. Forty-five minutes ago, the thought of being subjected to such barbaric defense mechanisms was a bad joke, one that was as distant as the nearest star, and implausible in nature. Yet, I was confronted with more than one foreign foe, and as I now struggled to understand just what had assaulted my senses, I realized that any pre-conceived notions I had towards the beast had been shattered. The next sense I remember feeling was shame.
A mere forty-five minutes earlier, I had been what many might call normal. I had, of course, come into contact with the vivacious female-rock revival that was spear-headed by bands like Lacuna Coil and Evanescence (who, contrary to what one might gather by auditory study alone, are not
the same band), and pioneered by Joan Jett and Lita Ford. My familiarity with this un-named genre in itself was one made of more than passing, as I clearly remember singing along to Pat Benetar at the tender age of eleven while driving down a deserted Texas road with my very merry macho Aunt. And even as I type these words, on the keyboard that translated all of my relentless Beatle and Zeppelin praising, I am aware that females (“chicks", “birds", or “women", if you like) have a little more of a purpose in modern rock and roll than they did in decades prior, though most choose not to acknowledge this. Quite simply: women can rock. Unorthodoxly so, but a head bang is a head bang, right?
As I put on this album, entitled Fallen
my expectations, based on what I’d heard of the group, Evanescence, was not one I was counting on enjoying. In fact, as I stole this album from my sibling, with the sole purpose of reviewing it, I bitterly recalled all of the times I heard the album blaring from her room… incessantly playing, and I delighted in the fact that I would soon be reducing all of the groups’ hard work into shambles by the time I finished the listening to the album. And yet, as soon as I finished the album, I realized (admittedly, shockingly so and a little begrudgingly) I couldn’t do it. But why? Amy Lee is so annoying and her voice doesn’t at all fit with the music!
Yes. Yes, I know. All rhyme or reason would tell me that this album was a dumper. A major
dumper. But as I sat there, confronting these unforeseen demons and letting my primal instinct guide me in this time of panic and confusion, a revelation came over me.
One might be inclined to assume the worst of the band and the album by the first single, Bring Me To Life
. And for good reason. There are so many things wrong with the song, naming them all would be damn-near impossible. The most obvious and glaring of these imperfections is the moronic and deviously obnoxious male-voice, courtesy of that one guy from 12 Stones (remember?). While you’re sitting, trying to take Amy Lee seriously, there he is, grunting like an oaf, and he ends up displaying the legitimacy exuded by a Lil’ Bow Wow album. But while this is the most obvious mistake with the song, perhaps the most damaging is the fact that out of all eleven tracks (excluding the odd piano-driven number) all of them sound suspiciously similar. In fact, as I listened to my sister blare the album on and on, that was the thing I found myself bitching over the most. Songs like Tourniquet
and Going Under
were really one and the same; a sick and blatant sibling relationship that invaded my domicile and assaulted my ears. Perhaps these are the reasons that I wasn’t expecting that I would actually like
the album. Hell, I had heard each song a hundred times over, and a hundred times again throughout the course of my musings. I had taken note of every same-y metal riff, every drum fill, and of course Amy Lee’s voice and lyrics. And perhaps that was the catalyst; the unforeseen vehicle that would transform my utter and adamant disdain into begrudging and guilty enjoyment. Allow me to elaborate.
As far back as I can remember, the one thing that bothered me most was Amy Lee’s voice. While undoubtedly a talented singer, her style seemed to completely rub against the grain of whatever the rest of the band was doing, and the only songs that she would fit with would be piano-driven numbers like My Immortal
. And yet, as I listened to that which I had criticized, I realized that the reason her voice actually did
go well was because of the contrast. Well, that and there’s plenty of lovely vocal harmonies. As I sat and digested the completely unexpected fact that I was actually enjoying the music, I heard something I don’t hear often in the mainstream rock market. Better still, what I heard actually displayed some proficiency. That’s right folks; a guitar solo is presented in the song Going Under
, and it actually serves the song well. Who knew? Now, even though a lot of the things I had formerly despised had come around and bit me on the as
s, that still didn’t mean that some of the more persistent nuisances didn’t drive me up a wall. Perhaps the main problem with the album (as previously mentioned), and indeed the band in general, is their remarkable talents at making every song seem closely related. I’m not talking like third cousin or distant relatives, more along the line of immediate siblings and the like. Indeed, Everybody’s Fool
and My Last Breath
are pretty much the same song, right down to the pseudo-gothic riffing and Amy’s serenading vocal prowess.
Also present on the problem list is the undeniable fact that after a few songs, the lyrical content can and more than likely will get fairly obnoxious. While a lot of great bands deal with more or less the same subject, the subject Amy Lee and her merry crew have chosen to pursue comes off rather whiny after around, oh say four songs or so. Add unto this the fact that the album can come off as one long song to begin with and you’ve got yourself a recipe for disaster. As mentioned above, the only thing that truly breaks the monotony is the piano tracks, which are actually quite well-composed and display Lee’s vocal range and ability quite well. While the rest of the band creates their own rather subtle moments of spotlight, they are undoubtedly there, as shown in the above-average drumming and good albeit common guitar playing. Unfortunately, the bass gets lost in the mix more often than not, which does pose a rather disappointing but not entirely unexpected problem.
After re-acquiring my equilibrium and calming myself down from a raging paranoia attack, I decided to undertake the bold endeavor of sorting out just what the hell happened to me. Pat Benetar had been out of my head for years, and the last time I had even heard I Love Rock N’ Roll
it had been in that ill-fated and accursed Britney Spears Crossroads
film. Why did my opinion flip so, well flippantly?
After debating whether or not I should lie to myself and you, the humble reader, I reached a conclusion. Sure, Amy Lee can be whiny. Sure the tracks are interchangeable to the point of blasphemy, and yes, the mainstream gobbled the band up whole. But if one is willing to look past these rather mammoth setbacks, you might find the tunes to be very well-crafted, and even catchy. Not long ago, I would have rather performed acupuncture on myself with rusty needles than undertake the venture that is listening to Fallen
, but my mind has been opened by it, and probably for the better. Or maybe I’m a wuss. Perhaps, but the fact still stands that the band does know what they’re doing, and probably will for at least another album or two. As for the shame?
Well, I live with it, one day at a time.