Okay, this has taken me far longer to do than I'd hoped because life's been crazy for me so far this year and I haven't had a chance to listen to it through enough to do it justice, but I wanted to do a full runthrough of how I feel about The Bitter Truth from start to finish because we're now in a new Evanescence era and this album warrants it. For context, I did my usual and didn't listen to any leaks before album release and only listened to the album for the first time once I had the CD in my hand.
Artifact/The Turn/Broken Pieces Shine
If you've listened to the album, you'll know why I treat this as one composition. I heard nothing about these tracks before listening to the album and had no idea what I was in for. The singles all give the vibe of something stripped down, rough and raw production and very "in your face" and rocky. Artifact/The Turn is not this at all. In places it reminds me of Enya or Clannad in the way that feels almost like a new wave/celtic hybrid. There's just something about the way it builds and the soundscapes that feels familiar and yet takes my breath away. About a minute in and my hairs were standing up on end. This was not what I was expecting at all and yet it still feels very Evanescency in all the right ways for me.
"Find a way to go back, to go back home to who we are"
... and what a homecoming.
That countdown, taking those words and launching them up into the stratosphere, then the guitars, drums and bass all come in at once with a crushing wall of metallic intensity. What ever comes next, I felt ready for it. Like I'm buckled into a rollercoaster that's about to go 0-60 in a breathtaking amount of time.
Broken Pieces Shine is without a doubt the most satisfying Evanescence song I've ever heard. It's hard to explain, but every chord change, every riff, every progression, every vocal line and harmony just does everything I want to it to do in that moment without feeling forced. I'd be sitting there going "oh wow, that was cool, it'd sound amazing if they follow it up with this" and it'd just happen - as if I was sort of commanding the song in real time. It ticks every box for me. Lyrically, musically, just everything. And yet it still wouldn't feel quite right without Artifact/The Turn to set the scene and turn it from a very good song into something more cinematic and conceptual. This whole phase of the album just feels right thematically "I don't know if I will be alright, but I have to try" admitting vulnerability with the rest of the album representing progression and moving forwards. I many ways this album feels like an autobiography of a point in time and this intro really does set it up perfectly for me. After allowing it to digest I'm quite happy to go ahead and say this is the greatest introduction to any album I've ever heard and I've heard some incredible album intros before now.The Game Is Over
I love the doomy/melancholic vibe of this track. The production is spot on for me and I love the tone on the bass and guitars in particular. The Game Is Over feels sort of desperate, but still seeking hope which very much fits the conceptual idea I outlined earlier. This said, I think it suffers from having Artifact/The Turn/Broken Pieces shine before it and me having heard it as a single beforehand. I knew what I was in for so this felt like a lull for me. I still can't get over how the breakdown feels cut short either. That section really stood out for me as something that really drew me into the song and I think they could have done so much more with it if they'd have really driven that bridge further and gone for a full heavy as f*** instrumental rather than cutting the breakdown short. I feel like this has real Disappear potential so I'm hoping they only did this so that it worked better as an easy sell single for pop audiences and that they really have fun with that section and draw it out a bit more in a live setting because it's a hard hitting riff.Yeah Right
Probably my least favourite track on the album. I like that it's a change of pace and would go so far as to admit that it's needed on the album to break it up and it's songs like this that really do set this above Ev3 which felt a bit "samey" to me in places. The choruses are quite interesting and I like the groove/sassiness in the verses, but I'm really only appreciating these from the perspective of a musician and seeing the work put into it. It doesn't make me 'feel' anything if that makes sense. The bridge is probably a little better for me (as it often is with Ev). I love the synth bells in the background and the simple chord choices here and I love that it's one of the few tracks with a guitar solo, although it felt a little bit underwhelming and sort of an afterthought. Again, it'd be cool to see if they have fun with this live and we maybe see some guitar duelling with Jen and Troy.
The outro is really nice though. I love that spooky vibe and how it feeds (see what I did there) into the next track.Feeding the Dark
Loved this one ever since I heard a snippet of that guitar riff before album release. It's so catchy and groovy. The guitars are such an important part of Ev;s music for me so I love hearing a riff that really hits the spot. When I look at this song objectively, it does kind of feel like the kind of track that a pro-producer would come up with if you asked them to write a stereotypical Evanescence song. It has all of the cliches and I feel like I shouldn't like it for that reason, but I just can't help it. I love the stereotypical Ev sound and this has it in spades. It's like an amalgamation of every aspect of their sound since Origin. I didn't know I needed to hear that, but apparently I did and it's one of my favourite tracks on the album for that very reason.Wasted On You
I've low-key loved this song since it was first released. It's a change of pace, but it's a great song in its own way. It's very reflective and atmospheric, but in a way that feels less dramatic and intense as what I would consider to be its equivalents on other albums (thinking specifically of Lithium, Lost In Paradise, My Immortal band version - songs that are ballady, but with a definite progression/build and band element to them). It's a 'raw' Bitter Truth Lithium that feels rooted in the everyday and it very much gets a new lease of life in the context of the album as a whole.Better Without You
The first single to be released that made me go "okay, wow, this is really good and I feel like I'd say the same if I just heard this on the radio and hadn't been an Evanescence fan for 18 years". Its composition is brilliant and I really do feel like it's let down only by the production. I know this has been said to death and we're all sick of hearing it, but I wish the vocals had more presence. The start of the bridge in particular is painful to listen to because the music and lyrics are phenomenal and Amy's vocals just sound weak, thin and buried when everything really kicks in and starts driving. In my head this is where I'd want her voice to really command the song and I definitely feel like it's the production more than her vocal take which really lets it down here. This said, a great song is a great song whether it's recorded and mastered to perfection or recorded by a toddler with a Fisher Price microphone and I can't wait to hear what this sounds like in a live setting.Use My Voice
To me this is the real 'anthem' track of The Bitter Truth. It's the Bring Me To Life or Call Me When You're Sober of this album. It's big, catchy, the guitar riffs are driving and get stuck in your head and it just feels polished and complete. I also like how it's a protest song that I can actually relate to. I'm always a bit wary of political songs because I rarely find them relatable and tend to find them a bit too shallow or "of this world" for my personal experience, but I feel like lyrically this song is vague and implicit enough to apply to most people's experiences (at least those who've found themselves not listened to, written off or manipulated). It really goes ham on the vocal harmonies too which I love.Take Cover
Up until The Bitter Truth this was the one Evanescence song I actively disliked and avoided listening to. Now it's one of my standout tracks on the album. There's just something about the production that causes this song to 'make sense' to me now. It feels somehow more industrial and gritty which makes its quirkiness feel comfortable rather than forced and then HOLY F*** that bridge hits and it goes full blown metal. I am here for Evanescence going metal any day of the week. I did not see that coming but it works SO WELL.Far From Heaven
Over the past decade I've always been a little nervous of Evanescence writing a ballad. Lost In Paradise did nothing for me and I feel like it's kind of become a bit of a box-ticking thing "we're known for rock songs like BMTL and ballads like My Immortal so every album has to have a ballad" kind of thing. Evanescence work best when their ideas come organically rather than from habit or procedure. I've loved Amy's solo ballads, but when I heard the soft piano and strings at the start I was fully expecting a 'colour by numbers' Evanescence ballad with the band playing the main chords for a final chorus and a fade out at the end - standard stuff. What I got was something entirely different. Far From Heaven is heart-achingly fragile. With no distractions, my focus was put entirely on Amy's voice and her words. Listen carefully and you'll hear the reverby cello glides which sound reminscent of Hello in the background and once you hear that, you instantly get a possible intended context for what she's saying. It's playing on lyrical paradigms and applying it to present heartbreak. I'd be lying if that didn't hit me hard.
It's up there as one of my all time favourite pieces of music. It's so musically simple, but so fragile, honest, beautiful and introspective. I could drown in it for days.Part of Me
This is one track that I'd been given a heads up to look out for because a lot of people love it. It is undeniably good but I guess it feels a little bit cliche European Symphonic Metal to me in places. It's very anthemic and powerful, but at times I couldn't help but think I could just as easily be listening to Within Temptation or Epica - which is fine, I love those bands, but what I love about Evanescence is what makes them different. It's great to hear them drawing influences from their European peers (intentionally or otherwise), but again there's maybe too much that feels overly familiar or "I've heard songs like this before" for it to go from "this is really good" to "wow, this is incredible". I reckon it'll go down a storm on the Worlds Collide tour though so will be interesting to see if they play it if and when the tour finally goes ahead.
Stand out moments here are the keyboard riff at the start of the second verse, which really takes a predictable guitar progressionn and turns it dark and Evanescency, the half time bridge (which again sounds like it's stolen straight from an Epica track, but it's cool as f***) and the lyrics "I will be more than my survival" it gives a nice glimmer of hope after the melancholy and reflection of Far From Heaven and really brings this album home.Blind Belief
This is another one that I heard a snippet of before album release and thought "I like the sound of this already". Musically, this is one of my favourite tracks on the album. The guitars, strings, soundscapes, dynamic, vocals all weave together so, so well. I just can't find myself relating to the lyrics and it's so frustrating for me because everything else just clicks into place. If I didn't have Artifact/The Turn/Broken Pieces Shine giving me that feeling of "nothing can ruin this album with this as an intro", I'd probably end up with a bitter taste (pardon the pun) in my mouth, not because it's a bad album closer, but because it's so good but doesn't quite make me feel what I want it to feel and I end up frustrated by my own inability to enjoy it as much as I feel it deserves.
Side note: the chord progression in the chorus reminds me of the Timesplitters 2 soundtrack, which I live for
"Love Over All" is a nice way to end an album though, so I guess that alone holds the key to redemption for me
Long old review, but I've been waiting years to listen to an all new studio album from my favourite band and really wanted/needed the time to really take everything apart. Obviously this is just my opinion on things and I know I can be pretty brutally honest about stuff so please don't take any of the criticisms personally. I've written this mostly for my own satisfaction of purging what's in my head and this album makes me feel a lot of things. I hope they never stop writing music that stirs up this much passion.