Evanescence – The Bitter Truth
Released: March 26, 2021
Amy Lee // Vocals, piano, keyboards
Tim McCord // Bass
Troy McLawhorn // Guitar
Jen Majura // Guitar, backing vocals
Will Hunt // Drums
Heavy. Heart-wrenching. With plenty of bite and just the right amount of playfulness.
The Bitter Truth is the first full album of new material by American rock veterans Evanescence in 10 years, and it’s definitely worth the wait. Shifting between symphonic, electronic and straight-up heavy elements with ease, the band prove on their fourth release that there’s plenty of energy left in them, further projected by the contributions of Jen Manjura (guitar, backing vocals).
The record opens with ‘Artifact The Turn’ and Amy Lee‘s angelic, hushed voice. Gorgeous, soft harmonies almost immediately come to the fore, before the piano kicks in along with atmospheric electronic sounds. Combined with Lee’s beautifully restrained and simple vocals, the instrumental parts allow the music to reverberate strongly around the room. The song transitions seamlessly into ‘Broken Pieces Shine’ and this is where the heaviness of the guitars come in, joined by a resounding drum beat from Will Hunt. Lyrically punchy, it’s an empowering track stemming from a place of strength in weakness.
The bass-heavy ‘Game Over’ allows Lee’s voice to really shine through and then it’s time for ‘Yeah Right’, a scathing reflection of the band’s many experiences so far in the music industry. The track begins with a fuzzy intro and then Lee’s vocals kick in, managing to simultaneously be soft and sassy, while offset by delicate harmonies.
A heavily distorted guitar solo later in the song also lends itself well, before making way for Lee’s haunting vocals and single piano notes in the background as she sings slowly, ‘Yeah right / That sounds nice / More than it was worth to sell our souls’. She descends into a whisper before dissipating into thin air entirely, providing a fitting end to the track.
Then onto ‘Feeding The Dark’. Lee’s vocals have an eerie tone to them as she beckons you to slip into the shadows with her. The pace is delightfully stripped back and when the high piano notes float atop the guitar, they’re a beautiful addition, adding even more body to the wash of sound.
If you need a song to send chills down your spine, look no further than the following track ‘Wasted On You’, where at the start it’s just Lee’s vocals and piano. Then electronic sounds kick in, along with guitars that reinforce the heaviness of the lyrics as Lee laments about feeling ‘frozen in time’. The bass later in the song, delivered with punch by Tim McCord, is also a standout.
On ‘Better Without You’, there’s the sound of a music box being turned before heavy distortion and Lee’s delightfully disjointed vocals. There’s a deliberate shift in tone from the last track and a hard bite to Lee’s voice as she acknowledges this newfound strength she’s found.
Now ‘Use My Voice’ wouldn’t be such a powerful anthem without the voices of some of modern rock’s most iconic voices and songwriters, including Lzzy Hale (Halestorm), Taylor Momsen (The Pretty Reckless) and Sharon den Adel (Within Temptation) among others. The way each of their voices are layered adds the right amount of weight to the mix, amplifying Lee’s message of standing up for yourself, no matter what sex, race, ethnicity etcetera you are.
‘Take Cover’ starts with a heavily distorted intro with drums in the foreground. It’s on this track that Lee shows her aggressive side, accentuated by a strong distorted beat. The attitude dripping from each syllable is palpable.
There’s big shift sonically here as we move into ‘Far From Heaven’, featuring piano and strings with soft atmospheric sounds in background. Lee’s tender, cooing voice is reminiscent of Evanescence’s previous ballads such as ‘Good Enough’ from second record The Open Door. The tune is easily the most heart-wrenching moment on the album and Lee’s voice soars as she sings mournfully, ‘Cause I’ve spent too long in the dark’.
‘Part Of Me’ is when the chugging guitars kick back in as Lee reflects on a much healthier, steadying relationship, in stark contrast to the toxic ones mentioned earlier on the album, while dynamic pace changes keep you on your toes. Lee’s voice fades out at the end of the track, setting the stage for the slow, haunting piano intro of album-closer ‘Blind Belief’. The track has vibes reminiscent of ‘End Of The Dream’ from third album Evanescence and certainly feels like a fitting end to a fantastic album.
It turns out, with Evanescence’s latest record the bitter truth isn’t so bitter after all. In fact, it’s salty and sweet – in all the right ways.
Evanescence – The Bitter Truth tracklisting:
1. Artifact The Turn
2. Broken Pieces Shine
3. Game Over
4. Yeah Right
5. Feeding The Dark
6. Wasted On You
7. Better Without You
8. Use My Voice
9. Take Cover
10. Far From Heaven
11. Part Of Me
12. Blind Belief