Alternative Rock, 2003
If there is any valid reason to sell out Jesus for the almighty dollar, well, Evanescence manages to provide eleven good reasons to. Fallen, the non-indie breakthrough release from this Arkansas quartet… pentaplet… okay, two blokes, one gal, and an army of hired musicians is a brilliant mix of radio-friendly tunes masquerading as hard nu-metal.
Most of the tracks here sound like what one will get if Linkin Park brings in a full string orchestra and hires Dolores O’Riordon of The Cranberries as the lead vocalist. Tracks like Going Under, Bring Me to Life, Tourniquet, and Haunted manage to capture an eerie Goth-like atmosphere that I find captivating. Vocalist Amy Lee’s voice has a crystal-clear clarity and sultriness in it, easily masking the fact that she’s actually a trained classical pianist and she probably has no idea what the drug addictions and bleeding hands that she sings about actually feel like. But does it matter, Evanescence’s nu-metal pretensions being just that – pretensions? They make great music, albeit somewhat monotonously similar ones, and it’s not as if nu-metal has much credibility in the first place. Fred Durst is now trying to convince people that he’s shagging Britney Spears. Give me Evanescence’s beautiful faux-Goth melodrama anytime.
The best moments of this CD is when Evanescence strips off the nu-metal electric guitar and drum hemorrhage, brings on the piano, and just lets Lee’s vocals take control and sends chills up and down my spine. My Immortal – with lines like “Your face it haunts my once pleasant dreams, your voice it chased away all the sanity in me” – is the perfect song for aspiring Goth teens with their salon-styled punk hairdo to make out to in the backseats of their Daddy’s SUVs.
While Evanescence may be just Average Joes and one Jane pretending to rock the kasbah, beautifully artsy musical architecture and haunting vocals elevate this CD into a beautiful sort of genius: it succeeds in making what is essentially safe and tame Top 40 music sound like hard-rock tunes resonating with melodramatic angst. Cynical teenagers still too young for a GG Allin musical renaissance and bored of Linkin Park can embrace Evanescence and find solace in the belief that here is a group that truly understands what it means to have evil parents who never understand. One day, we will all grow up and smile as we reflect on the actually tame mainstream music that we considered cutting-edge and revolutionary in our youth. Until then, bring on Evanescence!