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Anthems for life’s realities

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By Michelle Anne P. Soliman, Reporter

Album review
The Bitter Truth (2021)
Evanescence
BMG Rights Management

THE recording session for the new studio album began in January 2020; it was originally set for release later that year. However, the global lockdown led the band to postpone trips to the studio. This resulted in songs written and produced remotely between the band in the US and their guitarist and backing vocalist in Germany. A year into the pandemic, Evanescence released The Bitter Truth on March 26 — their first album of original material in a decade.

The American rock band made their debut in 2003 with the album Fallen which spent 43 weeks on the Billboard Top 10 and sold more than 17 million copies worldwide. Their debut single, “Bring Me to Life,” won the Grammy for Best Hard Rock Performance in 2004 — the same year the band won the Grammy for Best New Artist. In their 18-year-career, the band has made five studio albums including The Open Door (2006), Evanescence (2011), and Synthesis (2017).

The Bitter Truth is a return to the band’s heavy rock sound featuring its current members: bassist Tim McCord, drummer Will Hunt, lead guitarist Troy McLawhorn, and guitarist and backing vocalist Jen Majura, and its sole original member and lead singer Amy Lee.

The words of each song were difficult to understand at first listen because of the intense guitars and drums in the background. Following the lyrics highlighted on the phone screen while listening via Spotify will help one understand the songs. Despite no longer being used in the genre’s heavy sound, I realized I had missed hearing Amy Lee’s distinct head tone vocals, which remain full and rich since the band’s debut with “Bring Me to Life.”

The songs in the album are a reflection of the band members’ personal experiences of loss, grieving, and redemption, as well as social issues on inequality.

The album begins with an intro track, “Artifact/The Turn,” which has a calm, slightly electronic sound. The track’s ending segues to “Broken Pieces Shine,” a song about overcoming struggles.

The first four songs feature the band’s signature heavy guitar and drums. The sound calms down in the fifth track — and the album’s first single, released in April 2020 — “Wasted on You,” a slow danceable ballad which talks about recovering from a broken relationship.

The second half of the album regains its loudness with songs “Better Without You” and “Take Over.” Then, it slows down once more on the piano ballad “Far From Heaven” — a reflection of Ms. Lee’s experience with the loss of her younger brother who passed away from severe epilepsy in 2018. The emotional track showcases much of Ms. Lee’s ability as a vocalist.

A notable song that carries a different theme from the other tracks is “Use My Voice” — the third single which was released last August — featuring vocals by Within Temptation’s Sharon den Adel, violinist Lindsey Stirling, Halestorm’s Lizzy Hale and The Pretty Reckless’ Taylor Momsen. The song talks about the courage to speak up against injustice, with lyrics such as “If we can’t talk about it, we’ll just keep drowning in it” and “No, don’t you speak for me.

“I want people to come away from this album feeling hope and empowerment and strength. Something that inspires me a lot in life is people who have overcome great obstacles – survivors,” said Ms. Lee of the new album on the band’s website.

This message is evident as the album reaches the 47-minute mark with the hopeful message of “Blind Belief.” The song’s final phrase — loud and intense — goes: “We hold the key to redemption. Love over all.” The sustained last note cuts with the sharp bang of drums.

The Bitter Truth takes listeners back to the band’s original heavy rock instrumentation, but their lyrics have matured, telling us that miseries and battles are real and that to feel fear and sorrow are valid, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.

The Bitter Truth is available on music streaming platforms. For more information, visit https://www.evanescence.com/home/.





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