Opinions on this topic vary dramatically depending on who you ask, but I think meme-ification is one of the greatest honors a song can receive. Something about a song has to resonate deeply with people to prompt them to, for example, record themselves singing it in the Goofy’s voice. “Bring Me To Life,” the 2004 breakout hit by Evanescence, is a classic in my book. It was one of the defining songs of the 2000s and heralded the transition from the nu-metal and post-grunge — which defined the most prominent strain of early 2000s American alternative music — to the anthemic emo pop-punk proliferated by My Chemical Romance and the artists signed to Fueled by Ramen.
Evanescence was always about taking the pounding drums and monolithic guitar sludge of grunge and metal, and adorning it with gothic aesthetics to craft stages for Amy Lee’s transcendent vocals. In “The Bitter Truth,” Evanescence’s first album of original material in over a decade, the band uses their formula to craft songs that manage to sound both colossal and intimate. “The Game is Over” is an anthem about being yourself and bearing your scars for the world to see. The bass on this track has an electronic tinge reminiscent of Primal Scream’s landmark 1991 album “Screamadelica,” a milestone for the integration of house and rock music.
“The Bitter Truth” takes cues from other bands that experimented with electronic music elsewhere in the album, such as with electronic pulses on “Better Without You” and the bouncy bass-line on “Yeah, Right,” which is distinctly reminiscent of Radiohead’s “Myxomatosis.” “Yeah, Right,” is one of the standout tracks on the album, not on account of its quality, but because of its mood and style. It’s a distinctly fun track on which the band operates outside of their typical rhythmic wheelhouse. The lighter and sassier lyrical content about their experiences being in a band and navigating the music industry allows them to groove in a way that wouldn’t be appropriate for the gravitas demanded by Amy Lee’s typical songwriting. It also has a killer guitar solo, which is always fun.
“Wasted on You” is another highlight. It opens with just Lee’s voice and piano, and the band adorns it with a dreamy arrangement, reserving the guitar crunch for the choruses, which grants them greater weight. The track demonstrates, both in the clean guitar during the verses and the soaring lead guitar toward the end of the track, a more atmospheric approach to guitar work, a testament to the growth of Evanescence’s style since their debut.
“Use My Voice” is the centerpiece of the album, a politically charged anthem inspired partially by the story of Chanel Miller, a Stanford student whose experience with sexual assault on campus became a national talking point back in 2015. Lee’s refrain, “Don’t you speak for me,” is one of the most visceral moments on the album.
The album closes with “Blind Belief,” another track that opens with a solo piano before bringing in the rest of the band. The soaring choruses are the greatest strength of not only “The Bitter Truth,” but all of Evanescence’s music, and “Blind Belief” has one of their best yet. The climactic moment of the chorus, when Lee asserts that “We hold the key to redemption,” is a bold declaration of faith in humanity that is awe-inspiring.
“The Bitter Truth” by Evanescence
Favorite tracks: “Yeah, Right,” “Wasted on You,” “Use My Voice” and “Blind Belief”
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