I was riding home from work the other day and Evanescence was playing on the rock
station. Some song about "falling forever" or whatnot. Since hearing the catchy,
yet overplayed single "Bring Me to Life" a million times, I'd usually flip the
station for something else--maybe some Skynard or some Eagles. Instead, I let the tune
play and instead of writing it off as mindless rock that appeals to the masses, I opened
my critical ears a bit.
Evanescence sold over 6 million copies of their last CD. That's a hell of a lot of sales
for a band and I think they are only second to 50 Cent this year. I never bought it, but
they're definitely doing something right for a lot of people. What is making them stand
out and could I draw from that and use to relate to the current hard rock scene?
They had some controversy because of their former Christian roots. The band were
apparently known for openly being a Christian rock act prior to the release of the current
album Fallen. But now they seem keen to distance themselves from their past.
As a result, their label Wind-Up, intended to pull all copies of the album from
No big deal. Controversy abounds in the music industry. For some, it's a weekly occurrence.
Singer Amy Lee has said that "I don't think metal fits us. I don't think nu-metal
fits us. I don't think anything fits us...it would take, like, 10 words for me to give a
name for it. I think we're something completely new."
Well, I think I can describe it and it's not at all new. It's female-fronted rock with
gothic overtones. Musically, there's nothing special: rock chords over standard rhythms.
The gothic part comes in with the lyrics which to me are just a step above those who write
poetry and rhyme "fire" with "desire". Every teen says that their
girlfriend/boyfriend is the air that they must breath and all that claptrap. I'd swear
that every Evanescence song is a mini-opera of some near-death, depressed character and
their loving savior. I'm not knocking it. I'm just pointing out the overdramatics that it
Then there was the situation where they guitarist left them in mid-tour. No biggie there
because the singer is the center of media attention anyway. There are certainly other
female singers out there like Dido and Gwen Stefani and there are plenty of rock bands, so
what is setting Evanescence apart. I know that Amy Lee is the key.
Then it hit me that she isn't doing something new, but she is doing something few are
doing in the commercial rock world--she wails. I'm listening to the song chorus and her
delivery is what is striking me. She just belts the words out with the major-league lung
capacity that you don't hear from Nickleback, Linkin Park, Puddle of Mud, Three Doors
Down, Saliva and all of the other homogenous rock groups. Her vocal energy charges up a
city block where their pseudo-talk singing barely powers a lightbulb.
It may be why some have erroneously thrown them into the metal category. Sure, it's not
metal, but I think you could put her vocal stylings side-by-side with guys like Axl,
Sebastian, Halford, Dio, Owens, Tate and other new gods of the mic like Sean Peck and Wade
Current chart-toppers like Manson, Sully, Durst and Davis, thought good in their own
right, don't have the prowess, so the question then is: where have all the vocal gods
gone? They're still around, just not in the mainstream like it was back nearly a decade
ago. Maybe by some twist of Fate, Amy Lee and the return of the original Judas Priest and
the metal god, Rob Halford, will usher in 2004 as the Year of the Vocalist.
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