Evanescence has been through a lot since its major label debut “Fallen” rocked the charts in 2003. Songwriter/guitarist Ben Moody departed from the band on account of personal and creative differences with lead singer Amy Lee and has since moved on to work with other artists (Avril Lavigne, Kelly Clarkson), and Lee herself has been at the heart of a well-publicized sexual harassment lawsuit. At long last, however, the band’s long-anticipated “The Open Door” has arrived, having debuted at #1 on the Billboard charts.
While Lee is flanked by talented musicians, she is now the indisputable centerpiece of the band, which was inevitable from the beginning. She wrote all the tracks either solo or in tandem with the band’s new guitarist, Terry Balsamo, and staking a clear assertion of independence. From her impassioned vocals to her forthright lyrics, it is clear to see she has a lot to get off her chest.
Lead single “Call Me When You’re Sober” seems at once like yet another Kelly Clarkson radio hit, but this actually works well, striding the line between catchy pop and mainstream rock. Constant airplay has not diluted the song’s appeal as it continues to air out Lee’s frustrations with Shaun Morgan, her ex-boyfriend and lead singer of rock band Seether. “Lithium,” the second single, channels Sarah McLachlan with piano/vocal simplicity before the guitar riffs surge, beckoning the psychiatrist’s couch with its deep, dark gloom.
The album’s opening track, “Sweet Sacrifice,” however, is extremely radio friendly, with a downright awesome hook and sharp lyrics to boot. Meanwhile, the lower-key duo of “Your Star” and “Like You” ruminates with such cryptic observations (“I’d like to be like you/Lie cold in the ground like you”) that comparisons to the psyche of Emily Dickinson would be justified.
Elsewhere, “Weight of the World” paves the path for a new future, finding Lee declaring “I won’t be held down by who I used to be,” while “Snow White Queen” recounts sexual abuse.
“You belong to me/My snow white queen/There’s nowhere to run, so lets just get it over/Soon I know you’ll see/You’re just like me/Don’t scream anymore my love, `cause all I want is you.”
The album concludes starkly with “Good Enough,” finding Lee at her most vulnerable as she puts her guard down, declaring “I’ve completely lost myself and I don’t mind/I can’t say no to you.”
Listeners who enjoyed “Fallen” will by more than pleased with “The Open Door.” The songwriting might not be as refined with Lee steering the ship almost entirely on her own, but she more than compensates for it with ardor and artistic devotion.