The Open Door - Evanescence

reviewed by lec** | Tuesday, May 13 2008 @ 22:25:31 GMT        

Cover art

The Open Door

Release date: September 25, 2006
Length: 54:15
Genre: Dark Rock, Dark Metal

Tracklist
  1. Sweet Sacrifice
  2. Call Me When You're Sober
  3. Weight Of The World
  4. Lithium
  5. Cloud Nine
  6. Snow White Queen
  7. Lacrymosa
  8. Like You
  9. Lose Control
  10. The Only One
  11. Your Star
  12. All That I'm Living For
  13. Good Enough
9/10
outstanding
Reviews » Music

Your rating: [n/a]
With the indisputable success of Evanescence's debut full-length album Fallen, which sold over 15 million copies worldwide, I think that Evanescence had a lot to live up to in the production of their second. Prior to the release of The Open Door, Amy Lee announced she'd been steering towards a slightly different sound, saying that while many current fans will be disappointed, she hopes that a large number of new fans will be drawn to it. I can say I'm definitely pleased with The Open Door, because in stepping away from the light-emotional but rather commercial-sounding Fallen, the "new sound" turned out to be more of some very eerie, vapour-like melodies. Of course, Amy Lee's voice is as excellent as always, that and the dark piano tunes are probably what I find most attractive in this band.

Fallen was full of melancholy, grief, anger and other emotions, and though I love it, I can't help but taste the palpable amount of commercial awareness in the album. Don't get me wrong, the music is wonderfully unburdened compared to hundreds of bands that are popular nowadays. In fact, only select songs could be considered radio-friendly, whereas in The Open Door there's a lot more of them. Notwithstanding, Ben Moody is quite apparently a genius at making music the average teenager wants to buy – though it’s an excellent release none the less.

The Open Door was quite a surprise - the mood is noticeably heavier and more sinister. It's definitely darker and more textured than Fallen, maybe more mature and less mainstream-rockish. I consider it more creative than the prior, and perhaps a little less compromised in favour of monetary gain, for lack of a better way of putting it. The thing I like the most about The Open Door is the uneasy dark moods, classical-sounding piano, violins, cello and choirs, as well as multiple instances of Amy Lee's voice concurrently overlapping and creating what I can only describe as very likely the most mysterious beautiful thing I've ever heard. All of this mixed with some spooky but juicy guitar playing. Naturally, don't take the "official" genre for granted - "alternative rock" is a wide term, so don't let yourself associate it exclusively with bands like Linkin Park. It would also be incorrect to list this album as "gothic rock", which is how it was prevalently tagged on last.fm by its listeners. There is a gothic influence here, though I like to call any album by Evanescence "dark rock", which seems to be suited for describing Evanescence as well as any particularly vampiric contemporary music.

One thing you'll immediately notice is the use of a digital filter on Amy Lee's voice. They used this effect on many tracks, and those are the ones that sound the darkest. A notable one is "Lose Control", which sounds simply beautiful but creepy due to this effect combined with semitone transitions from E major into E flat major, and features superb transitions from normal Amy Lee to filtered creepy Amy Lee. Aye, creepy is just about the only adjective I can think of, because that's what it really is. "Like You" presents a slightly less dark, but more tragic atmosphere. Some songs are pretty aggressive and angry, like "Sweet Sacrifice" or "Weight of The World". All in all, this album covers a variety of different moods from the same spectre.

"Lithium" is worth specific mention. It's a depressed but powerful song of heavy guitar riffs revolving around a piano part, and if you like this band and this album, you're bound to like this song. It’s one of those album highlights that on average get played the most by listeners, something akin to My Immortal from Fallen, though musically and emotionally the two are very different. However, I wanted to say how great it is to play this song and have someone sing along, provided you know someone who can sing this well. Sorrowful but energetic (it's about letting go of illusions and numbness), it makes for good listening.

A track definitely competing for the title of best on the album is "Lacrymosa", featuring a recurring theme from Mozart's Requiem in d minor. It's not common to see covers of classical music by (supposedly) alternative rock bands. This song has the most grandeur and is the most dramatic, while perfectly portraying the new qualities of The Open Door. The song right after it, Like You, is another great one. The soft, consoling piano lightly patters away, and the guitars just cause enough tension to make it a downright sad song, as Amy cries "I long to be like you, lie cold in the ground like you". This one's a song really dedicated to Amy's sister, like Hello was on Fallen.

Nearing the end, you will have the opportunity to hear "Your Star", probably my favourite track on this album, which is a prime example of what this band is today, how different this record is from Fallen. It combines a sentimental kind of piano tune, agitated electric guitars and a dramatic choir, creating a smooth, dark mood. The choir parts as well as the last few choruses are supremely cool.

"Good Enough" is the last song on the album, and probably the most unusual. It's a piano ballad featuring strings, and starts of mildly reminiscent. Then after a short overture (actually rather unrelated to the song in whole) something between a sentimental and optimistic tune is heard, which makes it different from any other song on the album, or any other Evanescence song. It's refreshing to hear a little optimism at the end, and it's definitely a key feature in the whole, making a very effective closing to a superb album. Also, the music video for this song is definitely among if not the best Evanescence has made, and one of my favourites otherwise. If you haven't seen it, you can at Youtube (naturally). At the end the house Amy Lee is in catches fire while she plays the piano, and then gets extinguished by rain falling through the ceiling. Then green plants rapidly grow all around while she continues playing the blackened piano, completely drenched. While the "death then rebirth" or "destruction before creation" idea could not possibly be more emphasised and obvious, it is a music video, and therefore I ignore certain things. It's simply cool to watch, though.

The cover art, something no one (a little surprisingly) seems to mention, is really good and fitting. I don't know who designed it, as it doesn't seem to say anywhere on the box (I'm assuming artists at Wind Up Records do it), but I really praise whoever produced it for so adequately capturing the prevalent emotion threaded through the album and turning it into such a neat cover.

To conclude this review, I can very freely say that Fallen, despite this and that, is shadowed by The Open Door. If you're looking for some dark melodic beauty, The Open Door would be a great choice. The Open Door is a high quality album featuring a more mature sound than Fallen, thought it isn't "mainstream enough" to achieve unforetold commercial success; all the better, though the number of sold copies is not indicative of quality. TOD is not poorer for anything, only there's a different palette of darker emotions used. Also, the somewhat barbaric claim that all tracks "sound the same" on Fallen, as noted by some people including one person I know (usually the people who have never glanced at the album more than once), cannot be observed here. I thought The Open Door was worth the money and is a good overall buy if you want to spend a number of enjoyable hours listening to dramatic dark gothic-like rock with a popular and modern sound, but don't want a large dose of metal - this Evanescence album provides just that.

Finally...
The album has its holes, but the overall quality and thick, creamy, dark sound just makes up and the result is a fantastic album, one I really enjoy every time.
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