Started in Arkansas in the mid-1990s by singer and keyboardist Amy Lee and guitarist Ben Moody, Evanescence debuted with the EPs Evanescence (1998), Sound Asleep/ Whisper (1999) and Mystary (2003) and the album Origin (2000), mostly composed by
Moody and keyboardist David Hodges.
The album, despite the lo-fi production (a drum-machine instead of a drummer), boasted slightly gothic and industrial atmospheres (with amateurish electronics and drum-machines).
It contains: mildly distorted emphatic metal songs like
the spooky Whisper and
the Joan Jett-esque
Lies (both featuring vocal interplay between Lee and a male voice), the
seven-minute dark-ambient pieno-driven instrumental Eternal, possibly their unmatched artistic peak,
the sorrowful piano lied My Immortal,
some eerie numbers (the convent-evoking Field of Innocence, Even in Death),
the gentle, acoustic folk-rock singalong Anywhere, and several catchy power-pop elegies
(the organ-tinged Where Will You Go,
the propulsive Imaginary,
the solemn Away From Me).
Towering over the songs is Amy Lee's voice, an almost operatic synthesis of
and Tori Amos.
Several songs were re-recorded on the official debut album Fallen (2003)
that began their collaboration with producer Dave Fortman and
leaned towards bombastic and sometimes cheesy goth-pop and grunge-pop.
The album contains the mega-hit that turned them into stars, Bring Me to Life.
Imaginary and My Last Breath repeat the magical atmosphere and melodic flair of the first album, whereas My Immortal becomes a tedious
Burt Bacharach -ian ballad wrapped in strings,
and Going Under tames evil riffs and beats that could have turned into
Nine Inch Nails fury.
In general their melodramatic pop-metal sounds like
a "lite" version of the symphonic metal of Nightwish, Epica and Within Temptation.
Moody and keyboardist David Hodges left in 2003.
Anywhere but Home (2004) is a live album.
After the single Missing (2004), Moody was replaced by Terry Balsamo.
The Open Door (2006) was another big commercial success, despite the change of sound.
It contains another mega-hit, Call Me When You're Sober,
although a lot less catchy, the bombastic power-ballads Lithium and
The Only One,
the pensive Tori Amos-esque piano ballad Good Enough,
and even a waltzing Mozart remix (Lacrymosa).
The brooding, gothic overtones dominate in Your Star
and especially Lose Control, with multi-tracked vocals.
There are, above all, stronger echoes of the 1970s:
soul-rock (Cloud Nine, Sweet Sacrifice),
prog-rock (Snow White Queen),
and hard-rock (Weight of the World).
This album expressed Lee's creative vision, replacing the guitar sound of the previous album with full-on orchestral arrangements, and notably
David Campbell's string arrangements.
Then two more members quit (guitarist John LeCompt and drummer Rocky Gray, who both joined Moody in a new band, We Are the Fallen), replaced by drummer Will Hunt and guitarist Troy McLawhorn.
produced by Nick Raskulinecz,
marked another dramatic change in style but also a drastic decline in the quality of the songs.
The album debuted at number one on the US charts, but it is mostly a monotonous
experience. It contains the
single What you Want and songs that would be re-recorded a few years later:
My Heart Is Broken,
Never Go Back,
The End of the Dream,
Lost in Paradise.
Balsamo left the band and was replaced by Jen Majura, the German bassist of Equilibrium but here on guitar.
Lee debuted as a solo artist with a children's album, Dream Too Much, and the single Speak to Me (2017).
The box-set The Ultimate Collection (2016) includes all of their albums
until then, and
Lost Whispers (2017) is an Evanescence anthology.
The band regrouped for Synthesis (2017), that simply contains reworked versions of old songs in an electronic and orchestral style, with arrangements by David Campbell and production by Bill "Spaceway" Hunt.
The Bitter Truth (2021),
the first album of new material in ten years,
was another disappointment, starting with the lame single
The Game Is Over
and the cover of Fleetwood Mac's The Chain.
A lot of bombast buries all the songs.
Use My Voice (a collaboration with Veridia's singer-songwriter Deena Jakoub)
and the martial Wasted on You
(a collaboration with producer Nick Raskulinecz)
are the pensive ballads du jour.
Better Without You (another Raskulinecz-produced song) only hints at the industrial-metal potential of the band.
Broken Pieces Shine stands out, the lone song somewhat reminiscent of
their original goth-pop-metal.