Review Summary: Exactly what you would expect from an Evanescence album in 2021
I remember back in 2004 when I was nothing but an 8-year-old first discovering the world of rock and metal, I had come across Evanescence when my older brother was watching the music video for “Going Under”. Since then, I’ve had a real soft spot for their debut Fallen
and to this day, it still holds up in my mind as one of the albums that helped shaped my musical tastes. (Depressing, I know). However, the band’s future releases, The Open Door
and their self-titled album pretty much failed to recapture that same love I had for Fallen
. They weren’t awful albums by all means, but they didn’t have that same bombast or operatic approach, and it left me more disappointed than anything. Needless to say, the announcement of The Bitter Truth
, the band’s first album featuring new material in almost 10 years, had me with mixed emotions. I wasn’t sure if they were going to continue that disappointing trend, or if they were going to change it up and release something that was worth my time.
In terms of its style, The Bitter Truth
still has Evanescence in that early-to-mid-2000s mindset of rock and alternative metal. That’s a problem due to the fact that this sound is over twenty years old now, and most of the bands that were dominating the airwaves with this genre of music have pretty much moved on. A lot of the groups that more or less inspired Evanescence: Within Temptation, Lacuna Coil, Linkin Park, etc., have reached onto different styles and different sounds, and sometimes even different genres altogether. The Bitter Truth
on the other hand probably would’ve done well had it been released during the mid-2000s, but now it’s 2021, where this style of alt-nu-metal is practically laughed at. But here they decided to stick to their guns and continue the style as if it’s really the only genre they know how to play.
It doesn’t help the fact that the most frustrating aspect of this album is just how awful the production is. Nick Raskulinecz, who worked on the band’s self-titled record back in 2011, pretty much compressed the entire record that everything feels muddy. The potential power that the instrumentation is trying to convey is completely washed out by the just how horrible everything is mixed together. Even vocalist Amy Lee, by far the most unique aspect of Evanescence to begin with, is mixed so poorly within the music that her voice feels underpowered at times. Had there been a cleaner and more careful approach to the production, the album probably could’ve had a more powerful impact.
It’s a real shame, because there is some good songwriting to be found on The Bitter Truth
. The intro track “Artifact/The Turn” and the following track “Broken Pieces Shine” start the album off pretty well by attempting to recapture that same bombast that their previous records had. Meanwhile, “The Game is Over”, “Feeding the Dark” and “Better Without You” showcase Amy Lee’s strongest moments within the album. The guitar performances from Troy McLawhorn and Jen Majura, while not really inventive or complex, are good enough to carry these songs. The addition to Majura’s vocal harmonies is also an added plus as it helps give support to Amy Lee who, let’s face it, had been carrying Evanescence since the very beginning. However, it’s tracks like “Yeah Right” and “Take Cover” that remind us that Evanescence are still stuck in the mid-2000s, with bouncy rhythms, and awful lyrics. Even the instrumental performances on tracks like “Wasted On You”, “Use My Voice” and “Far From Heaven” feel really lackluster and end up feeling like filler more than anything. “Far From Heaven” in particular is a lame attempt at recapturing the same feeling that “My Immortal” had during the band’s heyday.
In the end, The Bitter Truth
is nothing short of another average release from Evanescence. Had the band attempted to tweak their style a bit, and had the production been better, it’s likely that this record could’ve helped them recapture the love that a lot of their fanbase had for them all those years ago. Yet, the lack of experimentation mixed with poor mixing are what truly drag the album down. If Amy Lee and co. want to stay relevant in the near future, there needs to be a change of direction for the band. At this point in time, trying to make another Fallen
is no longer an option for them. We’ve all moved on from that sound a long time ago, and it’s time for Evanescence to do the same.