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October 6, 2006

Angry rock stars stumble through Open Door

Remember the ’90s? The era when rock showoffs like Metallica and Alice in Chains and similar metalheads were big? I miss it, and I know you do, too. With the arrival of Evanescence, that style of head-banging rock was revisited. Instead of an angry, bass-heavy bottle of testosterone, we received a couple shots of estrogen in the form of Amy Lee and her rotating cast of band mates.

Led by the commercial success of their first single “Bring Me To Life,” Evanescence created their own brand of music, combining gothic elements, Christian-themed lyrics, saintly vocal arrangements, and a dark, gloomy rock world that is all their own. The video for the song followed suit, further pushing Evanescence into the spotlight with heavy rotation on MTV’s TRL and VH1’s Top 20. Their name didn’t die down much after that with singles like “Going Under,” “Everybody’s Fool,” and the equally commanding “My Immortal,” a beautiful ballad featuring Lee on piano that turns malevolent near the finale of the song with a sporadic lash of guitars. However, after Ben Moody, half of Evanescence’s genius, left (disappeared, quit, was fired, was killed—whatever sounds best), who knows if the group (or at least Amy Lee with random people playing behind her) will have the same charm?

Let’s just discuss these lyrics of Lee’s briefly. On Fallen (Evanescence’s debut album), Lee collaborated with Moody to create some deep, heartfelt, and spiritual lyrics. On The Open Door, I’m not sure if I actually care about the lyrics. In fact, I can’t even understand some of what Lee is muttering. On songs like “Lacrymosa” and “All That I’m Living For” (and those are just two of many examples), it seems as if she is just droning on and on, whining about her issues with the same lyrics on repeat for the majority of the songs. (By the way, I’ve never heard “Mary had a little lamb...” included in any other song besides “Lose Control.”) Except for “Call Me When You’re Sober,” the single, the majority of The Open Door doesn’t distance itself much from the self-pity of Fallen.

None of this can stop the creation of the impressive works of art that are available on The Open Door. “Sweet Sacrifice” claws its way into listeners’ ears with clashing guitars and strings, fighting for air, but never rising above Amy Lee’s emotional raving. At the core of this lividness is the faultless track “Call Me When You’re Sober,” an example of Evanescence at their best, including bits of Lee on piano fused with enraged guitars and apprehensive strings. Lee puts a different side of herself in the spotlight, showcasing her sarcastic side, demanding reparation from her mess of a man.

“Lithium” sounds too much like an attempt at “My Immortal,” except a lot more depressing—get it? Depressing? Toying with Mozart’s major hit, “Lacrymosa” generates the feeling of being perpetually trapped inside a humungous haunted house. But don’t worry, after hearing the relieved choir at the end of the song, I’m sure you’ll make it out alive.

So what did we learn from my rambling? The Open Door is a worthwhile buy for those looking for a decent rock album that doesn’t happen to be as sleep-inducing as albums by The Fray. We also learned that if you’re depressed, listening to this album will not set you free. Take Lee’s advice and try lithium. Class dismissed.