Evanescence arose on the music scene in a big way after the release of the movie Daredevil, which featured their song Bring Me to Life. Amy Lee, with her hauntingly powerful vocals, is at the forefront of the band. The breathtaking sound of this rock band from Little Rock, Arkansas, is quite difficult to describe or put a label to, though many have tried. The self-described rock band categorizes their sound as “dramatic, dark rock.” In my estimation, Evanescence is an alternative metal band that pairs melodic soulfulness in the soaring vocals of Amy Lee, the memorable and almost transcendent lyrics, as well as the powerful mood of the music. Evanescence consists of Amy Lee, John LeCompt, Terry Balsalmo, WIll Boyd and Rocky Gray.
1. Bring Me to Life
This is basically the first song anyone ever heard from Evanescence, but once it played on radios, a great deal of curiousity came about for this “new band”. The song starts out innocently with a lone piano, followed by a slow tremble of drums, and continued with the breathy voice of Amy Lee. Slow and melodramatic at first, the music swells and builds into an orchestra of clean and enchanting vocals. Bring Me to Life evokes a vague tale of someone understanding you even more deeply than you understand yourself, of having been asleep all this time and now being aware of it, figuratively speaking, of course. A distorted male voice, which belongs to the person Amy Lee is singing to, interjects periodically. The song is enhanced by this, rather than coming unglued. There is a sensual harmony as the distorted male voice (almost as though he is far away or that the female singer is hearing him deep in sleep) interacts with Amy Lee’s pristine vocals begging him to “bring me to life”.
2. Going Under
Strong guitar riffs accompany Amy Lee’s airy, low-pitched and hostile voice. Her range is such that as Going Under gets under way, her voice soars masterfully over the compelling track. There is a duality to the song, as the lyrics go from “Don’t want your hand this time/ I’ll save myself” to a softer quality of describing ‘going under’. In the lyrics of pain and suffering, describing the struggle she has within herself, Amy Lee’s voice become more like velvet.
3. Taking Over Me
At first, one might think this a slow piano song. Amy Lee is a talented pianist and has numerous beautiful and eloquent songs that are slower paced…but this is not one of them. A few bars after the soft tapping of piano keys, Taking Over Me adds quick-tempo guitar that commands you to listen intently. Just as instantly as it came, it fades away from that dark melee of aggression and returns you to the crystal clear voice of Amy Lee. Her voice seems to come out of the darkness and brings sadness with it. She dreams in a wonderful person and longs for them desperately. This love is one that is now gone, and mourning and longing for that is what remains. Everyone knows what it is to have lost a love and be obessed with having it returned to you. Amy Lee effortlessly evokes the passion of the song with the subtle and not-so-subtle changes of her unique voice.
4. Farther Away
Farther Away has a special place in my heart, as I can directly relate to the emotional and sorrowful lyrics. It is a quick-paced song that is a testament to how powerful music and vocals can use different tones and accents to evoke strong emotion. Farther Away tells the story of metaphorically reaching out to someone who is not there (either mentally or physically). The vocal charisma of Amy Lee takes us through the journey of a relationship dissolving in a subtle way. “I run to you/ Call out your name/ I see you there/ Farther Away”. Even the music track makes you feel as though you can never quite reach the object of your desire. The song wraps up with Amy’s desperate lyric fading away to the mixed sound of drums, guitar and a solitary piano.
5. Broken (with Seether)
Broken starts out with a few simple plucks of a guitar (acoustic) and a raspy yet soft voice sings what almost sounds like the start of a love letter to one far away. Soon, Amy Lee’s voice joins the raspy male one, balanced in harmony perfectly. The duet goes from the lead singer of Seether back to Amy Lee seamlessly as they paint a picture of missing one another and how they are ‘Broken’ when they are not together, as one. The music soars enchantingly as the two voices rise and come together in almost a triumphant fashion. The dance of these voices together is sorrowful and breathtakingly passionate. The orchestra mixed with the guitar and those strong, powerful voices make Broken an emotional and beautiful song.
6. My Last Breath
At first, the song roars loudly with techno and fast-paced guitar riffs, then slows down so that the soft quality of Amy Lee’s voice can be fully appreciated. My Last Breath goes back and forth like this – slow with melodic lyrics, followed by an uproar of soaring vocals and music. The song feels like it captures you within a dream world of shadows.
Slowly, Amy Lee’s voice joins the techno-industrial music, but it doesn’t sound like her typical voice. Instead, it sounds more hollow and synthesized to make her voice sound otherworldy and ghostlike. A rhythmic drumming pounds steadily throughout Haunted, accompanied by raging guitar and techno. Overall, the song has an eerie, sublime radiance.
8. Everybody’s Fool
Everybody’s Fool’ says a lot about today’s pop culture. Lyrics like “perfect by nature,” “icons of self indulgence” and “no flaws when you’re pretending”. The song is almost a commentary on the social standards some hold themselves to, always having to be perfect and smiling and fake. The lyrics are honest and refreshing, telling it from the point of view of someone who has “betrayed” themselves by trying to live up to this standard. It’s a beautiful and hypnotic song in both music and poetic lyrics.
Heavy guitar riffs start the song off, then abruptly fall quieter to let in Amy Lee’s ghostly voice pierce through. Whisper is a creepy song, with eerie lyrics like “Don’t turn off the light/ Never sleep, never die”. It makes you think of cowering in fear under your blanket at night, afraid of the shadows. There is a beautiful instrumental guitar within the song before Amy Lee continues with the song.
Tourniquet is one of the most controversial of all Evanescence’s songs. Though Evanescence has made it very clear that their music is NOT Christian, the lyrics can be misleading. “My god, my tourniquet/ Return to me salvation” and “Am I too lost to be saved?” and “I’m dying/ praying/ and screaming” have given this song a rep for being about Christianity. The song, rather, is of hoping for redemption. It has morbid lyrics about committing suicide and dying. You won’t find any saccharine-laced choruses in this thought-provoking song. It is a darkly beautiful ride through the more painful parts of life.