Album: Evanescence: The Open Door
Street Date: October 3, 2006
Length: 54:10
Rating: 3.5
Reviewed by: Kristen

Following up a smash hit album like 2003's Fallen could have proven to be a daunting task for Evanescence. In fact, perhaps it was, but it definitely doesn't show. When I first listened to this album, I'll be honest, it was a bit surprising and I didn't warm up to it until the second or third listen. The Open Door is certainly not another Fallen. More experimental and bold than Evanescence's first commercial effort, it is a departure for the Little Rock, Arkansas band. This is an album that, I believe, will garner them many new fans. In fact, new listeners have an advantage when it comes to enjoying this album, in my opinion. Old fans might have expected something that sounded a bit more like the Evanescence that we all heard on their previous efforts. Compared to their other work, this is different, and new fans might be able to appreciate that more than the old fans.

1. Sweet Sacrifice - Starting the album off with a kick, this track is one of the best offered on this CD. It almost reminds one of "Going Under," but a lot edgier. Lee shows off her range and her powerful vocals here. Everything about this song oozes "single potential." Lyrically, it's brash and her sliding and at times, scathing, vocals match them perfectly. The guitars are chugging and match the accompanying string instruments nicely in this. A perfect opening track and most likely a future crowd pleaser during concerts.

2. Call Me When You're Sober - The lead, and very successful, single from The Open Door. I've heard people refer to this as "three different songs blended into one," and I tend to agree. Somehow though, it completely works. It has a catchy chorus and the jazz piano in it adds a nice touch. The song has biting lyrics, but the music isn't as dark as people might be used to with Evanescence. It makes it more accessible to a wider fan base. With that said, it might just be one of the weaker songs on the album.

3. Weight of the World - One of my personal favorites, this one starts out with heavy guitars, again accompanied by string instruments. That seems to be a popular trend on this CD. Also the xylophone in the beginning is interesting. Amy Lee uses vocal filters for the first time on this song, another popular trend on this CD. It doesn't sound bad at all, and the layering that she does vocally on this one adds flare to this track. Aside from the filters though, her vocals sound rotund here. The acoustic guitar used in this one is refreshing to hear, and took me by surprise when I first listened to this song. Another standout track.

4. Lithium - I don't know if it's the name of the song that made me think this was going to be heavier (I automatically thought of Nirvana's song of the same name), but it's actually a flowing piano ballad. Lyrically it shouldn't work. It's odd, a song about a drug used to treat bipolar disorder making a beautiful song. But, I suppose that's a gift that Amy Lee possesses, making the odd beautiful. Guitars and again, string instruments, round out this song. Vocally this is one of Amy's best deliveries on the CD.

5. Cloud Nine - One of strangest songs on The Open Door, "Cloud Nine" starts out with an eerie vocal intro. It's almost reminiscent of experimental music by Yoko Ono, except without it sounding utterly terrible. It works well with the song, and is repeated throughout. Something that stands out on this song is the constant guitar riff throughout. If anything, this album is piano, string and vocally driven, with the guitars and drums taking a backseat. But here, the riff that is repeated intermittently is great to hear.

6. Snow White Queen - Easily the creepiest song on the album, and rightfully so, considering the song's content. Interestingly enough, this song seems to switch viewpoints from the seemingly crazed fan and Amy. Her low vocals at the start of the song echo the darkness of the lyrics. Despite it being a very dark song, the chorus is quite addicting. Musically this is a darker piece as well, but it fits with the theme of the song and reels the listener in further.

7. Lacrymosa - Beautiful. That's the first thing I thought when I heard this. Using a Mozart song worked so fantastically well with this one, it's hard to believe. Also, Terry Balsamo's guitar playing in this is flawless. Vocally its one of the most emotionally convincing songs offered, and the urgency that is presented by the band in combination with "Requiem" is amazing. If you're an Evanescence fan, or a fan of music in general, you will adore "Lacrymosa."

8. Like You - A good song, but rather boring. It is one of the quieter songs, but it seems like there is a climax building that never really happens. The guitar work is different, and gives the song a strange, yet pleasing, quality. It's not too hard, as you might expect from an Evanescence song. It's just in the background, working together with the piano and computer programming. If anything, it's strong because of Amy's vocals. It has a nice flow to it, but it lacks any real punch.

9. Lose Control - Ethereal vocals start this one off and continue throughout it, much like "Cloud Nine." One of the songs that sound the least like something Evanescence would do, it's not really heavy, it's not really mellow, it has this weird ambience to it. With that said though, it's relaxing to listen to. It makes for quite a schizophrenic sounding song, and during the bridge, the "ooh's" sound like something from an Imogen Heap song. Again we hear the vocal filters being used, but without them, this song wouldn't sound quite right.

10. The Only One - The intro to this one, I hate to say it, but it reminds me of Lacuna Coil's "Tight Rope." Although, the backwards singing is something I would never expect to hear in an Evanescence song, so it drew me in. Here's another example of a song where you can really hear the guitars, which is pleasing as well. One of the stronger songs on the album, the chorus is catchy and the verses are extremely well written, musically and instrumentally. Amy sounds in top condition here as well. The background vocals throughout the song might remind one of the older Evanescence song "Missing" and work nicely with the urgency of the other vocals in the song. Definitely a must listen.

11. Your Star - An example of a song from the album that contains a lot of things that work, and some things that don't. Lyrically this is my least favorite out of the thirteen songs. And as great as she sounds on other tracks singing in her higher register, her singing "your star" just doesn't sound good, for lack of a better term. The song does have groove though, and for the first time on the CD, the bass is easily heard and in the forefront. The layered vocals sound dissonant (much like the intro to "Call Me When You're Sober") but it brings the song a dark effect. The choirs along with Amy's vocals work well together as well. The outro this one is perfect, with the band, the orchestra and the choir blending perfectly.

12. All That I'm Living For - John LeCompt's contribution to The Open Door, this song is one of the album's best. Chugging guitars are the driving force in this one, and Lee's vocals are urgent and emotional. She nails the yearning vocals effortlessly. Again, the vocal filters are used, but in a less obvious manner and it makes this song just that much more appealing.

13. Good Enough - A quiet closer and not one of my favorite songs when I first listened. But, "Good Enough" is a fantastic piece of music. Vocally it's tear-inducing, and lyrically it's beautiful. It is reminiscent of a song like "Breathe No More," but sounds a lot happier. A perfect closer to The Open Door, because it shows that the band has changed (I couldn't see this ever being on something released by them previously) and is 'good enough' to stay around and be successful.

Overall, The Open Door is an amazing album. Whether or not the fans of older Evanescence recordings will enjoy it is questionable, because it is very different from anything else they've done. One could interpret this as Amy Lee trying to be far removed from work the band released before, though. My only complaints are that I wish the guitars were a bit more prevalent and that perhaps less vocal effects were used. It can be overlooked though, because the content is fresh and written well enough. But, if you are a fan of the band, new or old, you should pick this up. It's diverse. It's interesting, and it's just a great album altogether.

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