Founded in 1995 by Amy Lee and Ben Moody, Evanescence has been on and off the music scene for decades. Known for their goth rock sound, the Grammy-award winning band has always been a favorite of emo kids across the nation.
Their debut album, “Fallen,” was released in 2003, selling 17 million copies worldwide. Their following album was a live album titled “Anywhere but Home,” released in 2004. After “The Open Door,” released in 2006, the band took a hiatus until 2009, at which point they began work on “Evanescence,” which released in 2011. The self-titled album was their most successful, winning many awards such as a Grammy for Best New Artist, Loudwire Comeback of the Year and a World Music Award for Best Rock Artist. After they toured that album, they took another hiatus, to return in 2015 as a strictly touring act, as Amy Lee was working on a solo project.
During this time, Evanescence lost and gained several members. Ben Moody, one of the founding members, left after the release of “Fallen” in 2003. David Hodges was a member from 1999-2002, on the keyboard, drums and backing vocals. Will Boyd played bass for the band from 2003-2006 and Rocky Gray (percussionist) and John LeCompt (rhythm guitar and backing vocals) were members from 2003-2007. Terry Balsamo was the longest standing member behind Amy Lee, playing from 2003 to 2015.
The current members are Amy Lee (lead vocals, piano, harp, keyboards), Troy McLawhorn (lead guitar), Jen Majura (rhythm guitar, backing vocals), Tim McCord (bass) and Will Hunt (drums, percussion). McLawhorn and Majura joined in 2015, McCord in 2006 and Hunt in 2010.
Their fifth album, “Synthesis,” was released in 2017 and presented a significant change in the band’s sound. Comprised of old material that they revamped and two new songs, the album “[goes] back to part of the root of [the] music … accentuating a different side of it.” The original music was very goth and emo, featuring screaming and heavy rock elements, with hints of orchestral and electronic sounds. These sounds were “buried,” a part of the “atmosphere” of the sound rather than the focus.
The revitalized music of “Synthesis” zeroes in on those orchestral sounds. Original songs like “Bring Me to Life,” “Lithium” and “My Immortal” have a new level of depth and complexity to them, with the siren vocals of Amy Lee interlaced between the myriad of sounds of a full orchestra.
One of the new songs, “Imperfection,” is a “plea to [those] who feel suicidal not to give in to the darkness” written in light of the passing of Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell and Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington. The loss of these two rock icons hit Lee hard. She said, “It’s very sad and very difficult to watch people so close in our circle struggle that way and to actually lose them.”
The other new song, “Hi-Lo” is an emotionally charged dance between Lee’s soaring vocals and Lindsey Stirling’s vivid violin playing, with lyrics depicting an escape from a toxic relationship. Lee explains that “Hi-Lo” was written 10 years ago, but she just couldn’t ever find the right home for it. But, the orchestra of “Synthesis” provided the level of emotion needed to support the song.
Reviews of the album have been full of praise, described by Rolling Stone as “amplify[ying] the real Amy Lee, the way she was always meant to be heard” and according to Chad Bower from Loudwire, the album is “grandiose and bombastic in parts, quiet and subdued in others,” creating a “dynamic and compelling” album.
In 2018, Evanescence toured the album, joined by violinist/dancer Lindsey Stirling on the second leg. In February, they announced a spring/summer 2019 tour, going on now. There is also promise for a new album in 2020. During an interview with Sirius XM’s Grant Random at Epicenter Festival, Amy Lee explained that this year will be a “creation year” for the band. They will be playing a couple of shows after the tour, but it won’t be “too heavy,” and in between shows they will be getting together to begin the writing process for a new album.
Based on the interview, one can guess that the new album will focus on a rock sound, rather than the “cerebral” sound of “Synthesis.” Lee explains that the experimentation with the orchestra was a great experience and challenging, but Evanescence is ready to get back to the energy of a rock band. Hopefully they will maintain some of the orchestral elements that added complexity and a new level of ethereality to their music.
This process of going away and coming back again is one that happens a lot within the music business and particularly within the rock genre. Bands like Green Day, the Pixies, Blink-182, Fall Out Boy and many others have left the music scene just to return later, with success. All of these bands are still touring and putting out new, award-winning music.
Green Day released an album in 2016 and have a new one in the works, the Pixies will release an album in December titled “Beneath the Eyrie,” Blink-182 released “California” in 2016 and Fall Out Boy released “Mania” in 2018.
So far, Evanescence’s comeback seems to be a promising one. As a fan, I personally am looking forward to what they have in store for the future as I am sure many other fans are.