Evanescence | The Open Door (Wind-Up)

cd_evanescenceWhen Lee and Balsamo experiment, however, they almost always succeed. On "Cloud Nine" and "Lose Control," the band uses sequenced drumbeats courtesy of DJ Lethal (of House of Pain and Limp Bizkit fame) and echo-laden vocals to form airy arrangements that at times border on trip-hop, like some crazy bastard child of Korn and Portishead.

 

 

 

The sophomore slump has claimed more than its share of bands who exploded from complete obscurity to worldwide fame on the strength of a handful of singles, and you couldn't be blamed for expecting Evanescence to fall flat on their face their second time out. After tearing up the radio charts with their rap-rockin' debut single "Bring Me to Life," its similarly heavy sequel "Going Under," and the piano ballad "My Immortal," frontwoman Amy Lee lost two of her bandmates (songwriting partner and guitarist Ben Moody and bassist William Boyd), dismissed the group's manager over charges of breach of contract and sexual assault, and dumped boyfriend and Seether singer Shaun Morgan. That's a lot of upheaval to deal with when you've got the eyes of 14 million people worldwide watching to see what you do next.

Luckily, The Open Door proves Lee was more than up for the challenge. This isn't to say that the album is so brilliant that it will change the mind of any of the band's many, many naysayers; it isn't. But what the album does do is consolidate the band's strengths and develop their songcraft, resulting in an album that sounds more unified than their debut Fallen.

Where Fallen was more schizophrenic, jumping back and forth from drop-D tuned riffs to gentle Tori Amos-style piano ballads, The Open Door tries to bridge the gap by beefing up the slow songs and getting more experimental with the rockers. First single "Call Me When You're Sober" builds off a few simple piano chords before the massive guitars crash in, yet the song's real strength builds from the rumbling bass that guides the verses. "Weight of the World" features the band's trademark chugging guitars (now played by ex-Cold guitarist Terry Balsamo and new addition John LeCompt), but Lee's singing is pushed to the back as a plinking toy piano briefly becomes her only accompaniment.

The attempt to metalify the slower songs helps with the album's flow overall, but it doesn't necessarily do the songs individually many favors. Most of the piano-based songs are either bland or unmemorable ("Lithium," "Like You") or overplay their hand (the super cheesy choral arrangements and whining violins of "Lacrymosa," originally written for the Chronicles of Narnia soundtrack). When Lee and Balsamo experiment, however, they almost always succeed. On "Cloud Nine" and "Lose Control," the band uses sequenced drumbeats courtesy of DJ Lethal (of House of Pain and Limp Bizkit fame) and echo-laden vocals to form airy arrangements that at times border on trip-hop, like some crazy bastard child of Korn and Portishead. The result is the two best songs on the record.

Lee saves perhaps her biggest surprise for the final track "Good Enough," a track featuring no other band members – just Lee, her piano, and a few orchestral accents—that is so pop it almost sounds like Carole King. Again, nothing Evanescence has done here is particularly revolutionary, but this confident second album should keep fans of their first record extremely happy. B | Jason Green

RIYL: Korn, Sarah McLachlan, the idea of combining Korn and Sarah McLachlan

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