It has been nearly two decades since Evanescence emerged on the scene with their debut album Fallen. It has sold more than 17 million copies worldwide and spawned iconic songs like “Bring Me To Life” and “Going Under.” They kept the momentum going with 2006’s The Open Door and 2011’s self-titled album, both of which went to number one on the Billboard 200.
After Evanescence, there hasn’t been an album of all new studio material until now, though in 2017 they issued Synthesis, which included a couple of new tracks along with orchestral and electronic arrangements of older songs. The Bitter Truth does not continue in that direction but is more in the vein of their earlier material.
Eighteen years later, Amy Lee is the lone original member, with the rest of the lineup being part of Evanescence between six and 16 years. The band’s sound has matured over the years, but their core sound has remained relatively intact.
A few songs were recorded before the pandemic in the traditional studio setting, but the rest of the album had to be done sporadically and sometimes separately. As for what the title The Bitter Truth signifies, Lee says it “speaks on one level to the world we live in today, in the belief that we must face reality, no matter how ugly or difficult that is, in order to move forward. But there is also an internal parallel: there can be no healing without first facing the pain.”
It’s an album packed with energy and emotion, with several heavy songs and a few that are on the mellower side. Though there are some modern touches on some tracks, overall the album is firmly ensconced in Evanescence’s comfort zone. It doesn’t push toward many new horizons, but playing to their strengths makes for a potent collection of songs.
There are plenty of potential singles, with several already having been released. “Wasted On You” was the first, a ballad that has some quiet, electronic-tinged moments along with rockier sections. “The Game Is Over” has potent riffs and an impactful chorus. The uptempo “Yeah Right” has some of the album’s poppiest parts, but doesn’t neglect the guitars.
“Use My Voice” features backing vocals from Lzzy Hale (Halestorm), Taylor Momsen (The Pretty Reckless), Sharon den Adel (Within Temptation), Lindsey Stirling, and some of Lee’s friends and family members. Lyrically the song has a political message, and musically it builds from a ballad to a soaring rocker.
Amy Lee’s voice is one of the most distinctive in hard rock, and she shines on this album. Dynamics, range, and emotion are combined into performances that are honest and forge a connection with the listener.
The musical legacy of Evanescence is a strong one, and though a certain percentage of their fans may have gone by the wayside in the decade since their self-titled album, the anticipation for The Bitter Truth is high. It’s a record that longtime fans can embrace, and there’s a whole new generation of rock listeners that have the chance to discover the band.