Evanescence – Synthesis (2017)

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Evanescence is an American rock band founded by singer/guitarist Amy Lee and guitarist Ben Moody whose music was first classified as Christian rock – and it was promoted as such. However, Evanescence’s sound has since evolved and they have been put in every category from rock or metal band to goth.

If you listen to the group, or have seen Evanescence live in concert, I think most would agree they are a blend of all those genres. They are not afraid to take risks, with not only an ever-evolving sound but also a revolving door of band members, too.

The lineup of the group has changed several times: David Hodges left in 2002, co-founder and lead guitarist/songwriter Ben Moody departed in 2003, then bassist Will Boyd in 2006, followed by guitarist John Compt, drummer Rocky Gray in 2007 and Terry Balsamo in 2015. As a result, none of Evanescence’s three previous studio albums feature the same lineup, and each sounds markedly different.

That’s why naming their latest project Synthesis, which happens when often-diverse concepts are combined into a coherent new whole, makes so much sense. Here, Evanescence once again takes their sound in a whole new direction by absorbing more classical influences into a mix of primarily older songs featuring brass and other orchestral elements.

Evanescence selected songs like “Bring Me to Life,” “Lithium” and “My Immortal” from their previous albums for this different approach. Incorporating more piano and classical elements and less electric guitar and percussion, however, might disappoint some fans who love the band’s more straight-ahead rock ballads. As for the production, melodies and composition take a backseat to singer Amy Lee’s vocals, which are the focus on Synthesis and carry the record.

Pairing Amy Lee’s voice with the classical production creates a hauntingly beautiful and extravagant display of song, something more intimate and vulnerable. Some of the highlights on the album include “My Heart is Broken,” “Bring Me to Life (Synthesis)” and “Imperfection.” Most of the songs on Synthesis are more subdued, but still just as effective in creating emotion.

The album-opening “My Heart Is Broken” is a powerfully beautiful song, more subdued then the original version but with some interesting electronic elements as Lee’s vocals are highlighted by the strings and keyboard. Another intriguing adaption was that of “Bring Me To Life (Synthesis)” the tune that skyrocketed Evanescence to fame. Originally a hard-core rock song complete with a rap segment, it finds new life with this new arrangement.

If there’s a down side to Synthesis, it’s that the album can get a bit redundant at times since the songs are so familiar. That’s why “Imperfection,” a new track that showcases Evanescence’s pop/rock elements, stands out so much. This powerful description of loss, unworthiness and insecurity makes a memorable plea for connection, and an orchestral setting provides the perfect conduit for getting that message to the listeners.

It’s a shame that “Imperfection” wasn’t the first track on Synthesis. Evanescence would have gotten off to a better start, but I guess the band saved the best for last. In the end, they came away with an album that’s refreshing and often intriguing, with more of a focus on Amy Lee’s vocals. Nothing here will have you rocking out, of course, so new listeners might want to revisit Evanescence’s back catalog first. For older fans, and others who are musically adventurous, Synthesis is definitely worth a listen. This gamble paid off.

Kristina Mondo

Kristina Mondo

Kristina Mondo is New Jersey native, freelance writer, blogger and music enthusiast and a New Jersey Press Association Award winner. See more of her work at Off the Record: https://tunestoursandmore.wordpress.com/. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Kristina Mondo
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