Evanescence: The Open Door

The Open Door
by Kodi McKinney

When the lead guitarist and co-songwriter of a band leaves, it typically marks a creative shift for the remaining members. For that reason, many fans have been curious to see if Evanescence and front woman Amy Lee could match the success of their mega-hit Fallen without Ben Moody.
Their new release, The Open Door, suggests that following up might not be possible.
Though Moody was replaced by Terry Balsamo, it is clearly not a perfect fit. In fact, the guitars have become a weak point on this album. Balsamo and John LeCompt's riffs are mostly sub-par. The only mildly interesting guitar moments are in the first single, "Call Me When You're Sober," and "Cloud Nine," the best song on the album in every respect.
That's another huge problem with The Open Door: "Cloud Nine" and "Call Me" are easily picked out because of how bad the rest is. "Sweet Sacrifice" opens with some killer vocal hooks, but then goes nowhere and seems half-finished. "Lithium" feels similar and sounds too close to the Fallen hit "My Immortal." Lee seems to be playing it safe here, but not having Moody around has hurt the quality of her songs. She seems to be grasping for fresh concepts, even quoting the famous piano outro to Eric Clapton's "Layla" for part of the hook to "Good Enough." The quote doesn't feel intentional, it just feels lifted; unfortunately, "Good Enough" has the best intro of any song on the album and is the best ballad here. Lee's lyrics are also mediocre and can't bail her out in the weaker moments.
These are very bad signs, because this is clearly the Amy Lee Show now. Sadly, parts of this feel like an attempt by the producers to make Lee into a gothic American Idol contestant. As if to prove a point, the textures under "Like You" make it sound like a darker outtake from Whitney Houston's soundtrack for The Bodyguard, except that Lee is clearly not Whitney Houston. The difference would be more obvious if not for the vocal doubling on Lee's pipes, which sound like they were digitally softened on every high note. Even the orchestral layering suffers from the life-crushing overproduction. DJ Lethal of Limp Bizkit 'fame' reaches for added depth with programmed beats, but he fails miserably. Though Fallen used programming too, it was never done this poorly.
This is not a terrible album, but I wanted The Open Door to be good. Good music can be felt in your bones; bad music can leave a bitter taste. Once I finished listening to this album, I promptly put on better music to wash the taste out of my mouth. Considering that I liked Fallen quite a lot, that's depressing. But the best songs here should still be hits, and they have more substance than most of what's on the airwaves.
Rating: 2 out of 5