Evanescence - _Fallen_
(Wind-Up Records, 2003)
by: Pedro Azevedo (4 out of 10)
For years now I have not turned to the radio or television to look for any music, but the media industry is such that it can reach you virtually anywhere. Evanescence's hit singles "Going Under" and "Bring Me to Life" have received more airplay than most in recent months (at least in Portugal), thus becoming two of the songs to reach me in spite of my "musical spam filter". So why did I go through the trouble of hearing the entirety of their disc and writing a review for CoC when they're already all over MTV and such? The reason is twofold: one -- and note that this isn't saying much -- their hit singles actually have enough quality to justify a second glance, much to the contrary of the rest of their ilk that I'm aware of (most certainly including labelmates Drowning Pool and Creed); two, they have irked me in an entirely different manner than their peers.

Evanescence build their nu metal-ish sound around the vocals of the talented Amy Lee, who describes their music as "epic, dramatic, dark rock". She goes on about their homeland Arkansas in the group's official biography: "It's typically death metal or really soft, older-people music there -- I don't even know of any local bands that have female singers." However, Evanescence ought to know that the world does not end in Little Rock, Arkansas, or even the United States. In Europe, metal bands have been successfully incorporating various amounts of female vocals into their sound since the mid-'90s. What Evanescence have done is simply take that contrasting blend of female vocals and heavy music and give it a commercial, nu metal treatment that hugely boosts the band's marketability. This leads me to the way Evanescence have specifically irked me: the vocal style and some of the guitar riffs on _Fallen_ bear more than a passing resemblance to a simplified version of Norway's Madder Mortem, whose vastly superior work easily predates Evanescence's -- and the same can be said about some of the softer tracks on the album compared to The Gathering. Yet whose is the public success, whose the financial gain? Ultimately, it's the music industry and its marketing machine that continue to dictate the results, because most people simply can't be arsed to look for the better band.

So, how good is _Fallen_ then? Having already said Evanescence deserved a second glance much more than their labelmates and other such peers, I must nonetheless point out the often repetitive choruses, bland guitar and drum sound, poor riffs, occasionally silly male vocal patterns coupled with weak delivery, and the general commercial take to their music as negative factors. Which is quite a lot when you look at it, much as it still isn't as bad as their competition. Truth be told, Amy Lee's vocals are responsible for about three fourths of my rating -- not because they are particularly amazing, but because the rest is rather mediocre. The remainder of the album actually tends to be somewhat less nu metal and Madder Mortem-ish, at times becoming more melancholic and keyboard-based and bringing to mind The Gathering in some of those occasions. Unfortunately, things never get very remarkable in any way apart from the couple of overplayed choruses from their singles -- we've all heard the slower piano tracks somewhere before, and even the attempted symphonic edge of closing track "Whisper" reeks of things that have been done much better by metal bands years ago.

Those into bands like Madder Mortem or The Gathering who like Evanescence's singles enough could do worse than give _Fallen_ a try; but do not expect it to be anywhere nearly as good as those bands, or as catchy as the singles. For me, this brief excursion out of the underground is over, and served only to remind me how great music can be down here.

Contact: http://www.evanescence.com

(article published 14/10/2003)

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