Welcome to Throwback Thursday! This is the place where we get to indulge in nostalgia and wax poetic about excellent metal of years past. Today's 96th TBT features possibly one of the most popular – and controversial – albums found within the entirety of the TBT catalog.
Release Date: March 2003
Record Label: Wind-up; Epic
It's astounding that the album which catapulted Evanescence into highest stratospheres of stardom is also the album that garnered the Arkansas natives just about as much hate and vitriol. On one hand, Rolling Stone called Fallen the 99th greatest metal album of all time; On the other hand, in a 2003 article from RS, writer Kirk Miller quips, "The gimmick? It's a woman on the mike, and she's on a mission from God. When vocalist Amy Lee croons about lying "in my field of paper flowers" or "pouring crimson regret," she gives Fallen a creepy spiritual tinge that the new-metal boys lack." Popmatters writer Adrien Begrand said this of Fallen in a 2003 review, "The combination of lunkheaded hard rock with miserable, sensitive lyrics sounds so simple, you end up wondering why some pop svengali didn't think of this sooner."
And while the internet is an notoriously attractive cesspool for cowardly keyboard warriors and hate speech, Evanescence got more than their fair share of acrimony. From our own site, people have said the following about a variety of Evanescence's escapades: "Tits sell, but who's subscribing?","Amy Lee? meh", and "Just terrible!!!!".
An early split between the two founding members, Amy Lee and Ben Moody, during the success of Fallen vilified Lee as prima donna. A law suit won over 'unpaid commissions and fees' with Evanescence's former management team was taken negatively by many, further demonizing star and head vocalist Amy Lee as a high-maintenance diva – a image bolstered by her presence on the cover of Revolver's ill-conceived 2011 "Hottest Chicks in Hard Rock" issue.
Even the non-music related internet had something to say about Fallen and Evanescence. John Oliver of Last Week Tonight on HBO zinged the group with a drive-by insult on his piece about debt-buyers. You can find the into to the comment starting at right around 2:27:
A group or rioters even torched the band's drum kit during a riot at Knotfest.
Lastly, IGN.com – a website dedicated to video gaming – has a thread about the band, whose first post is just the kind of thing you'd except from a low-life, cro magnon, "Anyone who listens to this fat goth emo filth deserves to be castrated. And if you're female, you need to be taken out back and shot for more reasons than this."
Unfortunately for the latter comment, this kind of all-too-common content is strewn about the entirety on the internet. Whether or not this is the Cheeto-encrusted ramblings of a prepubescent numskull or not really isn't important, because the fact is that is kind of hatred – valid or not – does exist. And further, for many – it not only exists but it is encouraged, laughed at, and enabled.
Yet, despite all the enmity, the band has an astounding 21 million followers on Facebook, 1.1m on Instagram, and 1.2m on Twitter. That's enough of a fan base to shut even the most cynical up. Nowadays, there seems to be a lot more love for this band than hate. Evanescence became huge thanks to Fallen, and perhaps the risky choice of dancing the hard rock/metal line with rap-infused lyricism in their biggest single "Bring Me to Life" marked the band as a hot target. Often accused in the metal-verse as a less talented Epica, Within Temptation, or Nightwish (most of whom the band went on to collab or perform with), Evanescence found legitimacy in their massive popularity. According to their Wiki, the band won the 'Best International Newcomer' award from Kerrang!, was nominated for and won awards from the MTV Europian Music Awards, World Music Awards, and The Grammys – all won with Fallen and it's singles. Some of those accolades include Best Hard Rock Performance and Best New Artist.
In November of 2017, the band re-released their seminal single "Bring Me to Life" with out the hip-hop vocals for their album Synthesis.
In a quote from an October 2017 article from Loudwire, John Hill cites Amy Lee on the spoken vocals, "God bless the rap, it's part of what got us on the radio, I guess. At least according to all the rules of radio that I don't agree with or understand. The rap wasn't part of our original idea or sound, it was a compromise in many ways. So to be able to go back to the original vision for the song was great."
But aside from the rapping part of one song, what in the world could've painted a target on the back of the Evanescence juggernaut? Many pointed fingers at the band's singer Lee, calling her voice annoying and her style 'shabby Hot Topic goth'. Yet for so many Lee has been a role model and 'savior', known for her magical and beautiful outfits, as demonstrated by her recent AMA on Reddit. User u/giovanasampaio commented "Thank you for existing and saving so many lives with your songs"- a sentiment reflected hundreds of times throughout the Lee tell-all.
Fallen is what it is – an atmospheric hard rock/metal album that incorporates some of the most popular types of soundscaping used in turn-of-the-century radio played music. Metalheads in general are largely allergic to what is popular, even if the music is good – so Fallen has that working against itself at the outset. And whether or not you love Fallen is up to you as a listener – nobody else. The record has obviously spoken to millions, as it sold millions, and is still a hugely popular choice for listeners on Spotify – ranked the 35th most listened to band among metal and hard rock fans. Comparisons drawn to other huge artists such as Linkin Park and Limp Bizkit attempt to reduce the legitimacy of Fallen to a mere rip-off rock album soaking in pieces of what everyone else was offering at the time. And yet, Evanescence went on to play shows with Linkin Park – another band whose legacy has affected millions, especially after the passing of Chester Bennington.
Whether they're a punchline or a band that everyone loves to hate, Evanescence won't be stopping anytime soon. They're still touring, still playing live, and they're still being played on the radio. In a November 2016 interview article from Blabbermouth.net, Lee states the following about life after Fallen, "I don't run that race; I really don't. We've run away… I kind of disappear for a couple of years after we do our big album-tour cycles every time. It's almost just, like, 'Okay, I have to regroup' and remember just how to be myself, because you get so wrapped up in it all that it becomes you, and I don't want that; I wanna be me. And you can't rely on other people's acceptance or approval; it's gotta be something that I came to on my own. So, no, I don't usually feel that, 'Oh, man, we did really well. We'd better work extra hard now.'
Love them or hate them, Evanescence two-decade run isn't over yet – neither is the love for their freshman album Fallen.