American goth rock band Evanescence is back with their distinctive brand of melodramatic gloom delivered through crunchy guitar riffs, piano melodies and lead singer Amy Lee’s mezzo-soprano. On April 24, the band released the single Wasted on You from their upcoming album, The Bitter Truth, their first release in nine years with new original songs. The song was premiered in India on April 23 on the Vh1 India television channel.
The video, directed by PR Brown, has been assembled from footage shot by band members in their respective homes while self-isolating because of the coronavirus pandemic. The single is classic Evanescence. It doesn’t betray any of the upheavals and disruptions that popular music, particularly, rock, has undergone in the two decades since the band’s release of their best-selling debut album, Fallen (2003). That record won them two Grammy Awards.
“As much as I focus on our evolution and the new sounds bring so much excitement, I love and recognise our core too and wouldn’t want to abandon the heart of what our sound is,” Lee told Scroll.in in an email interview about catering to the expectations of their fanbase and musically challenging themselves.
A release date has not yet been set for The Bitter Truth.
Lee added that unlike their earlier works, the band hasn’t used any strings or orchestral instruments so far on their new album, and have opted for electronics instead: “synthesizers, arpeggiators and sound effects”. Nick Rasculinecz, who has worked with Rush and Alice in Chains among others, is the album’s producer. Most of the songs on the album are new, Lee said, while a few old tunes have been “revamped” and will “find their true home on this album”.
At a time when music is largely consumed as singles via streaming apps, the 38-year-old rockstar is aware that most listeners wouldn’t experience The Bitter Truth in its entirety from the first track to the last. However, she wants to consider the album “like a book, and the songs like chapters”, such that the songs add up to a “whole story we are telling”. Hence, like in a book, Lee said, “it’s a good thing if some songs go off the rails a little bit, and every song isn’t trying to sum up our sound. That would be limiting.”
Lee was only 21 when Evanescence stormed into the rock scene with the superhit song Bring Me to Life, the first single from their debut album. The music video, featuring Lee as a woman in a nightgown dreaming of climbing up a building in a dark brooding cityscape, became instantly popular around the world, including India, thanks to music channels and the growth of broadband internet in the country that suddenly made the latest Western pop acts accessible to the web-surfing teenager.
A lot has changed for Evanescence since then. Guitarist and founding member Ben Moody quit the band abruptly in the middle of the band’s global tour to promote Fallen. Multiple line-up changes and lengthy periods of hiatus followed. Their sophomore album The Open Door was hugely popular, but their third album in 2011, titled Evanescence, couldn’t repeat the band’s early success.
“I was very young when it all started,” Lee reminisced about the early days of the band. “I signed a record deal the year after I graduated high school and started working towards Fallen. It was all very surreal, exciting, sometimes scary, sometimes lonely and weird. As the world was embracing our music, my little brother was very sick and I couldn’t be with my family very much. Becoming famous made me feel overexposed and misunderstood at such a young age, and as a natural introvert, I was sort of bitter for awhile. I picked myself up and started taking control over the things that were messed up and toxic around me and slowly things got better.”
About the developments in the process of creating and releasing new music since 2003, Lee is positive. “The technology to record at home has gotten better and better and it has enabled me to try out more involved ideas by myself,” she said. “I can speak directly to my fans whenever I want to through social media, without being misquoted or taken out of context to fit somebody’s article, and I can hear what they have to say too. We can put out music in so many more ways now, and it takes less time to get it from the studio to the world.”