Evanescence’s “The Bitter Truth” is a Sweet Return 10 Years in the Making

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Evanescence is back with “The Bitter Truth.” (Courtesy of Twitter)

Noah Osborne, Staff Writer

The early 2000s marked a turning point in the rock genre. There was a clear transition in the genre’s sound, moving away from grunge acts like Nirvana and Alice in Chains to a new sound both loved and hated by rock enthusiasts and casual listeners alike: nu-metal. Bands like Linkin Park pioneered the sound. However, the rise of Evanescence in 2003 dominated the sub-genre and angsty teenage hearts with their breakout album, “Fallen.” The band would continue to release albums until 2011, when they seemingly fell off the radar. Yet 10 years later, Evanescence has triumphantly risen.

“The Bitter Truth” began the band’s revival with ominous opener “Artifact/The Turn,” which sees goth frontwoman Amy Lee delivering some of the most piercing vocals in a decade. The opening song represents the band’s metamorphosis, with “Artifact” being relatively low-stakes. It symbolizes how the band has become just that — an audible artifact defined by the work from its past. Things pick up beautifully in “The Turn” as the track begins to simmer with some light pop, and Lee’s voice grows in urgency. When she powerfully delivers the closing line, “Find a way to go back / To go back home / To who we are,” the band has completed its decade-long metamorphosis.

The track transitions to “Broken Pieces Shine,” which reminds audiences why they should have never counted Evanescence out in the first place: deep drumming and nostalgia-inducing riffs. Evanescence has been broken for a long time, but the band shines just as it did in 2003’s “Fallen.” Listening to this track is enough to cause listeners to forget it’s 2021, bringing them back to the simpler times of 2003. Amy was 22 years old when she recorded “Fallen,” and now, at nearly 40, her vocal delivery is more cutting than ever.

“Yeah Right” is an interesting song, as it sounds somewhat like the lovechild of Depeche Mode and Evanescence, with an opening resembling club music, but then the classic hard rock tone listeners have come for. The change may catch listeners off-guard and seem a bit cumbersome at first. It’s a forgettable nuance in comparison to Lee’s signature dark and somewhat seductive delivery of, “Yeah, I’m a rock star / I’m a queen resurrected, just as messed up as before / Twist the knife hard/Just makes it easier to tell you I don’t need you anymore.” It’s the bold delivery of lines like this that keeps listeners intrigued. In a matter of seconds, audiences come to sing along with Lee and still headbang to the club and hard rock mix.

“Feeding the Dark” is another exceptional track that sees the band going back to the sound of their successful 2006 album, “The Open Door,” with Lee flexing her hauntingly beautiful vocal range. Lee’s vocals, married to the guitar shredding and powerful percussion, are bound to make listeners wonder how the band ever left. From this point forward, the band rises to its new highest point.

“Use My Voice” is remarkably the most urgent song Amy Lee has sung throughout her entire career, as the track serves as a battle cry for women throughout the world to stand up for what they believe in. It becomes clear that Evanescence didn’t just return to show how “they still got it.” Instead, when Lee emphatically declares, “Don’t you speak for me!” it’s a strong punch to the chest of listeners urging them to respect not just Lee’s voice but the voices of countless women and anyone else who feels silenced in America.

Lee delivers the knockout blow in “Better Without You,” which is reminiscent of fan-favorite “My Immortal” in 2003. Opening with a much-improved club sound, the band is at its best here with Lee singing, “As empires fall to pieces / Our ashes twisting in the air / It makes me smile to know that/I’m better without you.” This song gives fans everything they craved for 10 years and gives new listeners everything they never knew they needed.

By definition, evanescence means to vanish quickly or to be fleeting. Evanescence may want to reconsider its name, as “The Bitter Truth” proves to be an unforgettable album that easily positions them for the best rock album of 2021.