Review Summary: A worthwhile trip down memory lane that provides an interesting glimpse into what the band could have become.
Evanescene's first album, Fallen
, appeared at the perfect time. A public seemingly starved for the band's (or rather Amy Lee's) brand of rock grabbed the album and wouldn't let it go; Fallen
spent 43 weeks on the Billboard Top 10 and sold more than 15 million copies worldwide. While many of us grown out of or conveniently “forgotten” that we ever listened to Evanescene every once in awhile it's nice to revisit ones musical roots. It was during one of these time periods that a friend suggested I try out the bands demo Origin
, claiming that it was superior to their previous work in every way. Skeptically I followed her advice and gave the track “Lies” a spin. Within minutes I found myself listening to the entire album and wishing I could have heard this in my not-so-distant youth. Origin
is comparable to Fallen
in all of the best (or worst depending on your view) ways while providing a more exciting raw experience.
Amy Lee still is one of my favorite female lead vocalists, on Fallen
we were treated to some of the best sounding female fronted tracks that the mainstream had to offer. Origin
features a few tracks present on the bands first album and while remaining similar they show off the key difference on the album; Amy Lee is far more raw and powerful than she's ever been giving the tracks as much if not more emotion than those found the later releases. The band uses far more electronic elements here as well, giving the listener an inkling of what the band could have been had they decided to become the industrial route. Ben Moody provides contrasting vocals sparsely and as it turns out is a blessing in disguise. While his own softly sung lines serve as a great contrast to Lee's he is far more restrained and untrained when compared to his powerhouse of a counterpart.
As stated before Origin
features the early version of a few tracks that appeared on Fallen
and while I am glad that Fallen
rocked as hard as it did the entire track-listing on the demo could have fit on the album. “Even In Death” is a prime example of this, opening with a repeated sound sample soon followed by Lee's soft singing similar to her delivery on “Imaginary.” As the power behind her voice grows the lyrics “they took you away from me/but now I'm taking you home” are driven home as the chorus starts. Underneath this the repeated sound sample is looped and a small, almost DJ scratch type sound is added showing off the bands greater use of ambiance and atmosphere present on this release. Around the 2:27 mark the guitars begin to take center stage, and on Origin
these have a more “nu-metal” sound; the harsh chords intermixed with a simple piano line in the background provide excellent contrast and build into a platform perfect for the return of Lee's angelic singing. As the song begins to close everything starts to fade and soon the audience is left with the repeated sound that began the track, then everything drops off into silence.
Whilst other albums had some issues with filler/unmemorable tracks I couldn't help but be drawn to this more experimental side of the band, though those who took issue with the majority of Fallen
's tracks will still be able to voice the same complaints here. The claim that it's only a demo will only be able to safeguard the album for so long; after awhile the tracks could start to blend together and become unrecognizable as individual pieces, and Lee's vocals might strain the nerves if lyrics prominently about love and loss affect one's mind. Also of note is the boy band sounding “Yeahs” used at the 5:23 mark on “Anywhere,” killing the ambiance created by a track that would have otherwise been excellent.
A great track showing off the albums differences is the excellent track “Lies” which features Bruce Fitzhugh from Living Sacrifice. Opening with Lee's voice strongly going up through a scale a recording of her on a higher octave is added, and as the two begin to interweave they are suddenly distorted and dropped off. Then as Fitzhugh begins to speak he gives the best backing vocal performance on the album, his speaking voice is far deeper than that of Moddy's and suits the harder edge presented by the track perfectly. Lee's vocals are deeper and allowed far more reign, the drums become thunderous and the guitars chug away; at one part Fitzhugh tries his hand at screaming and for the time his effort is commendable, even though now it shows its age. The lines “you'll never be strong enough/you'll never be good enough...they'll never see/I'll never be/I've struggled on and on to feed this hunger burning deep inside of me” show both anger and determination, and compared to the normal love/loss theme featured prominently on Evanescence albums it is a much welcome change.
definitely shows its age, and in the end that is to be expected. At 11 years old it has a decidedly nu-metal tinge and the vocal work is not as high quality as production methods and later albums show. The band does do some things right however, and given the harder it sound features the listener begins to wonder what would have happened if the band wouldn't have chosen its current evolutionary track. In the end Amy Lee is still the vocalist we've come to love/hate and Evanescence still has its critics, but after the nostalgic beauty and new direction of Origins
I won't be critiquing as hard as I once did.