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January 2001 Pick of the Month

Artist: Evanescence 
Label: Bigwig Enterprises
Length: 11 tracks/46:27

Finally, this much anticipated debut has left the factory.  For the past couple of years, music fanatics have had their appetites whetted for this amazing band through a very small run EP release, a song on a compilation or two, and some mp3s.  The release of their full-length seemed about as tantalizingly near-but-not-yet as the second coming of Christ. 

Now that it's here (in limited numbers, so get your copy soon), does it deliver?  Pretty much, yeah, if you fancy a fusion of Garbage electro-goth chick vibes, Chatterbox/Circle of Dust melodic industrial-metal, epic transcendence ala The Gathering, and plenty of piano prog like, maybe, '80s Yes or ELP (but don't quote me on that).  In fact, most of the song structures have the fluid classical feel of being written on the piano, then translated through guitars and electronics.  Amy Lee is of course the main attraction, her soaring, sad voice accented by ethereal "oohhhhs" and soft whispery overdubs.  In the vast space around her, there's usually a lot going on, with layers of keyboards, samples, drum loops, effects, and electric guitars all flowing together into one glowing gothic industro-metal glacier. 

Two tracks from the ultra-rare EP reappear, retooled -- "Imaginary" and "Where Will You Go?." The other eight songs range from the solitary, sorrowful piano ballad "My Immortal" to the phenomenal progressive metal song "Lies" where Amy sings cascading scales, Living Sacrifice's Bruce Fitzhugh provides an injection of low end as guest bassist, and male death vocals even pop up.  Really, the only fault on the whole album might be the clean male vocals that come in on "Where Will You Go" and "Anywhere."  At best, they're distracting; at worst, they're just plain cheesy ("yeeah, yeaaahhh"...!??) for this kind of music.  Thankfully, the mistake is confined to
those two tracks.

The lyrics are all first person, either confessional or directed toward others, touching on fears that linger and hold the speaker back, disillusionment with life, love lost and desired, and finally, a hopeful reaching to accept freedom through one with "an open embrace upon a bleeding tree."  There's definitely a change in mood at the end, with the songs upping the tempo and energy to match the hope in the lyrics.  If there's any justice in this world (which we know there isn't when it comes to music), Evanescence will find a host of appreciative fans and be maturing their music for years to come. 

To order, visit

Josh Spencer    12/20/2000


Josh Spencer, contributing senior associate editor forr The Phantom Tollbooth for over two years, is also publisher and editor-in-chief of spiritual pop culture webzine Stranger Things.  Reviews and articles by him are usually simultaneously published in some form at



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