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Mace and Crown | May 24, 2018

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Evanescence’s ‘Synthesis’ reflects on their past, present and future

Adam Flores | Senior Writer

“Synthesis” – Evanescence

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Courtesy Evanescence

Amy Lee has brought back to life Evanescence’s previous material along with two new tracks within “Synthesis,” the group’s fourth combined studio and compilation album. The reworked versions of their older material incorporate elements of electronica and orchestral arrangements that bring new sonic depth into tracks that put them at the forefront of goth/nü-metal and symphonic rock back with their 2003 studio debut, “Fallen.”

Evanescence’s eponymous album in 2011 was their last studio effort prior to “Synthesis.” From 2012-2015, the group took a three-year hiatus to pursue individual projects. Evanescence returned in November 2015, continually plagued by roster changes, to the stage when they performed at Japan’s Ozzfest.

In December 2016, Evanescence released “The Ultimate Collection,” a box set which contained all of their albums, including “Origin.” Earlier this year in March, Lee spoke with AOL Build regarding her solo single, “Speak to Me.” It was also during this discussion she alluded to a new Evanescence project: not just an expected studio release of new material; however, she implied one possessing a stylistic change.

Later in May, Lee stated in a video post through the band’s Facebook page that the title for the new record came from the fact that the new album is “the synthesis, the combination, the contrast, the synergy between the organic and the synthetic, also the past and present.”

“Synthesis” presents a beautiful and bombastic sonic shift that also puts Lee’s luminary vocal prowess into new territory. The razor-sharp power guitars and thundering drum theatrics are gone and are replaced by dark harmonic and melodic layers of orchestral instruments with a kick of electronica, in some cases.

“Bring Me to Life (Synthesis)” and “My Immortal” exemplify the good and imperfect elements contained within “Synthesis.” While “My Immortal” blends the perfect marriage of Lee’s vocal timbre over a pure orchestral backdrop, “Life’s” EDM-backed rhythmic aesthetic emotionally elevates, yet distracts, more than complements the orchestra and Lee’s voice.

The same distraction can be found within “Imaginary,” where EDM elements tend to be a bit overbearing. “Your Star” is the exception where an equal focus of EDM, orchestration and Lee’s vocals each have their appropriate placement throughout the mix, sonically breathing easily and elevating the song’s theme without the tension of feeling one is competing against the other. Both tracks, however, follow a more generic modern pop formula that perhaps should have been abandoned in favor of more creative orchestration arranging.

“Hi-Lo” and “Imperfection,” “Synthesis’s” two original tracks, both deliver a near-perfect balance of EDM and orchestra by properly showcasing Lee’s piano and vocal skill set. The two hauntingly beautiful tracks summarize Evanescence’s past, as well as possibly define what their future may hold and expect from the goth metal quintet.

A disappointing element is the lead track, “Overture.” The exposition, simplistic in its presentation, is in dire need of musical development to give the listener an anticipatory and auditory foreshadowing of what is yet to come on the album. In theory, its plainness and brevity may balance the complex and drawn-out song forms heard later on, but it is a track that either should transform into the subsequent “Never Go Back” or not be included in the set.

Each track on “Synthesis” portrays a cinematic ambiance with plenty of musical tension and release throughout, rivaling a Hans Zimmer score. Ironically, it was the group’s “Bring Me to Life,” the lead single from their 2003 debut album, “Fallen,” that saw its inclusion in the 2003 “Daredevil” soundtrack and brought them immediate commercial success and widespread critical acclaim.

“Synthesis” was a much-needed album within the Evanescence discography, and its arrival takes the group’s past material to new places with a more mature vocal resonance from Lee. With two new teaser tracks in the compilation and some extra mileage from their older material, fans of symphonic rock and metal are given a glimpse into what may transpire in the band’s future.

Rating System:

💿  – Face palm.
💿  💿  – Eh…
💿  💿  💿  – We’re getting there.
💿  💿  💿  💿  – I’ll listen to it twice, even.
💿  💿  💿  💿  💿  – Hell yes!