Following six years of being sidelined to parenting duties, solo releases and film score work, Evanescence is officially back this week with their newest album Synthesis released today via Sony Music Australia. Long described as a passion project, lead vocalist Amy Lee explains the concept of Synthesis as being the synergy between old and new, synthetic and organic, and orchestral and electronica. Yes, you read that correctly; the combination of old and new meaning exactly that – brand new reworkings of some of the band’s back catalogue, as well as two brand new songs and some new instrumental tracks all wrapped up in a nice neat package.
‘Overture,’ the album’s opening instrumental track – already associated amongst the online Evanescence community with goats – gives us a subtle hint of what lies before us, while still easing you into the concept behind Synthesis. At less than a minute long, ‘Overture’ also brings the drama, something which Lee has described as her biggest indulgence on this record.
‘Overture’ seamlessly flows into a reworking of ‘Never Go Back,’ originally from the band’s 2011 self-titled record. Having stripped back the heavy guitars and removed the big rock drums usually associated with their sound and replacing them with electronic elements and haunting orchestral arrangements composed by David Campbell, (who also wrote the strings on all three of Evanescence’s previous albums) 2017’s reworking of ‘Never Go Back’ is as dramatic and heavy as the Evanescence we know and love, whilst simultaneously proving incredibly vulnerable.
The long-awaited third track, ‘Hi-Lo’ is one of the two brand spanking new songs featured on Synthesis – kind of. ‘Hi-Lo’ was first written back in 2010 when the band were recording for their third album, before taking a break from the studio and the song then not making the final cut for the self-titled release. After ten years in the vault and a new life brought to the track in collaboration with violinist Lindsey Stirling, ‘Hi-Lo’ has finally found its rightful home on Synthesis. ‘Hi-Lo’ is a hauntingly beautiful track, very much brought to life (excuse the pun) by a perfectly-placed dramatic violin solo.
Despite the original version of ‘My Heart is Broken’ being only six years old, the growth and maturity in Lee’s voice is unmistakable. Whilst vocally remaining relatively similar to its 2011 counterpart, the restraint shown in some of those soaring notes does wonders for this track – but don’t worry, there are still plenty of impressively big notes in there – with dramatic music to boot.
‘Lacrymosa’ is the first track on Synthesis off 2006’s The Open Door. When Lee described Synthesis as “stripping out the heavy guitars and rock drums, and then reworking the songs from the ground up,” this song is the epitome of what she described. With changes to the lyrical structure, it’s big and dramatic, whilst remaining the haunting and enchanting song it’s always been all at once. Oh, and can we talk about that note at the end? Damn!
Amy Lee is no stranger to contrast in her musical style, and the transition from the huge, dramatic ending of ‘Lacrymosa’ to the a Capella intro of ‘The End of the Dream’ is no exception to that rule. As it always has, ‘The End of the Dream’ shows off Lee’s jaw-dropping vocal talents in a big way – perhaps even more so now, in this new version of the song.
Fourteen years after the release of Evanescence’s break-through single, ‘Bring me to Life,’ Lee has finally been able to release the track the way she always intended it to be – without the rap. Whilst the rap part didn’t make the cut and the growth in Lee’s voice is evident, the 2017 version of ‘Bring me to Life,’ which was the first single off Synthesis – perhaps to test the waters – is particularly similar to the original version of the song, much to the disappointment of many fans.
The eighth track on the album is an instrumental by the name of ‘Unraveling (Interlude),’ which can be best compared to a synthy build-up style song intro. It most definitely has that ‘Evanescence’ feel to it, while remaining a simple and beautiful piece of music.
‘Unraveling’ builds naturally into the intro of ‘Imaginary,’ one of Evanescence’s oldest songs which has been around since the Origin days. The new ‘Imaginary’ is much more upbeat, fun and experimental both musically and vocally. This one is sure to be well-received among the band’s long-standing fans.
Synthesis returns to rework another track off 2011’s self-titled album, ‘Secret Door.’ The higher tempo melded together with everything that made the original version of the song stunningly beautiful is perfectly done. It’s different enough to bring a new life to the track, without losing any of the track’s original integrity. A fine balance to achieve, and one they have managed to pull of flawlessly.
‘Lithium,’ off 2006’s The Open Door has had widely mixed opinions amongst fans for years, and this new version is likely no different. It’s been given the generic Synthesis treatment of replacing the heavy guitars and drums with orchestra and a fair amount of electronica, but very much remains relatively similar to its original.
‘Lost in Paradise’ makes for the fifth song from 2011’s self-titled release to feature on Synthesis. Formerly an emotionally-charged power ballad, six years later becomes bigger, more dramatic, more upbeat, and perhaps at times, more emotional than the original. You might want to grab the tissues for this one.
Fan favourite ‘Your Star’ along with the aforementioned ‘Lacrymosa’ are quite possibly the two most impressive reworkings on Synthesis. The 2017 version isn’t just disguised as ‘Your Star 2.0,’ it’s more like an entirely epic new life for the song. Electronic influences feature heavily on this track, along with some interesting new quirks, however some decisions are slightly questionable. Perhaps an entire new world of electronica and synths just provided too many sounds to choose from – a little like a kid being let loose in a candy store.
What may well be the world’s most well-known ballad, ‘My Immortal’ of course had to be featured in a new way on Synthesis. This is another track that is very similar to its earlier versions, but it does certainly have the feel of a new life in it. This is another song that Lee has included on the album to release it how she always wanted it to sound – rather than the version that most people know, which she is embarrassed about due to having recorded it so young.
To bridge the gap from the old songs to Evanescence’s powerful new single, ‘Imperfection,’ is a piano solo aptly titled ‘The In-Between.’ Featured as the introduction of the ‘Imperfection’ music video, this solo creates the perfect path into the powerhouse single, which, while addressing a particularly important topic – depression and suicide – is a catchy and upbeat song, complete with rap verses – this time on Lee’s terms. A heavily electronic song, ‘Imperfection’ still feels heavy and definitely showcases the beginnings of a new era for Evanescence.
Overall, Synthesis contained a few massive wins, a couple of underwhelming moments, and an extremely important message in the form of a massive new single. My advice? Give Synthesis a chance. There may well be songs you dislike, but there is an equal chance of you uncovering something you’ll love. There is something for almost everyone – a rare feat for a rock band reworking their back catalogue in an entirely new way.
GET YOUR HANDS ON EVANESCENCE’S SYNTHESIS HERE!