Evanescence – ‘Synthesis’ (BMG/Sony) Print E-mail
CD Reviews
Written by Jonni D   
Monday, 27 November 2017 04:20

Evanescence artworkWith only three official studio albums under their belt, it’s easy to overlook just how much of a draw Evanescence still is in 2017. Amy Lee and her (since revolving door of) collaborators were something of a novelty to American audiences when they first came to the mainstream’s attention with the colossal commercial success of 2003 debut, ‘Fallen.’ Their combination of the female led symphonic rock of European acts like Within Temptation and Nightwish with a hearty injection of nű metal crunch proved to be a winning formula. Despite lengthy breaks between albums and touring cycles becoming more sporadic, the band’s popularity has surprisingly stayed pretty consistent throughout the years; hence the anticipation for their new project ‘Synthesis.’

 

Although somewhat misleadingly marketed as a fourth album proper, ‘Synthesis’ is better described as an orchestral/electronic reworking of older material with several new stylistically similar compositions included.  For quite some time now, the band has, for all intents and purposes, been the Amy Lee show; so the idea of stripping these songs back to Amy’s skeletal piano arrangements, then augmenting them with the aforementioned flourishes is a promising one in principle. And when it comes to individual songs, ‘Synthesis’ is often successful.

 

There’s a heavy emphasis placed on the band’s most recent self-titled full-length, and this material fares particularly well with the attempted reimagining. ‘Never Go Back’ trades in the energetic riffing of the original for a pulsating backdrop, accentuating the dark and brooding melancholia of the song hitherto unrevealed. Similarly, David Campbell’s orchestration on ‘My Heart Is Broken’ zeroes in on the haunting vulnerability of Amy’s vocal, rather than the layered bombast of the studio version. Indeed, most of the self-titled material leaves more of an impression when arranged in this bare-bones manner, highlighting the intricacy of the compositions instead of burying the nuances in production trickery.

 

Elsewhere, Amy seems to be having the most fun (or at least as much fun as Evanescence can be) on ‘Lacrymosa’, which allows the incorporated elements of ‘Lacrismosa’ from Mozart’s ‘Requiem’ to stand out with a little more emphasis. ‘Imaginary’ is possibly the most effective reworking from the band’s debut album, its playful strings adding a much needed jolt in pace to the album.

 

 

And this is where ‘Synthesis’ falters the most. Nearly every track chosen for the project is based on a slower tempo, and is sombre both in lyrical theme and musical atmosphere. At a hefty 16 tracks, this makes a chore of listening to the album from start to finish. The additional interludes are well conceived, as are the two new tracks proper, particularly the slightly more energized closer ‘Imperfection.’ However, as a singular work, ‘Synthesis’ is punishingly one-note. Bizarrely, their more successful singles, ‘Going Under’, ‘Everybody’s Fool’, ‘Call Me When You’re Sober’ and ‘What You Want’ would’ve been ripe for reimagining, and provided a much greater variety to proceedings. Instead, the band opts for tracks such as ‘My Immortal’, ‘Lost In Paradise’ and the flaccid ‘Your Star’, which barely differ from their original recordings, and leave the listener drowning in plodding melodrama.

 

In the end, ‘Synthesis’ turns out to be an idea which on paper seems like the perfect avenue for Evanescence to explore. Diehard fans may lap this up, but one suspects that a fourth studio album would have been the better option for the band at this juncture.

 

‘Synthesis’ is out now. You can get your copy HERE.

 

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