Evanescence Find Orchestral Bliss With ‘Synthesis’ – Album Review
Orchestras and rock/metal music have enjoyed a long and fruitful relationship. From entire genres like symphonic metal to collaborations such as Metallica's S&M, Dream Theater's Score and Deep Purple's Concerto For Group and Orchestra, utilizing an orchestra can add a whole different dimension to a band's sound.
Unlike many of these collaborations that are live albums, Evanescence's Synthesis is a studio record consisting of orchestral versions of earlier material along with two new tracks. While a band like Metallica working with an orchestra might raise some eyebrows, it makes perfect sense for Evanescence. Their music is dramatic and dynamic, and they've utilized classical elements on previous albums.
Vocalist Amy Lee says, “These songs all have a life beyond the initial studio recordings, so it was really satisfying to go back and sing them as a 35-year-old as opposed to a 20-year-old (some of them). To be able to incorporate some of those elements that have developed over years of playing them live, and to show ways I've grown as well was a beautiful opportunity. I had to not only make each these new versions better in some way, but also preserve the core of what made the initial performance so great. I really challenged myself.”
As to the songs they selected to give the orchestral treatment, there are some of the hits from their three albums, but many are not. One I wish they would have done is “Going Under.” It's interesting to hear “Bring Me to Life” as a classical track without the male rap parts. “My Immortal” and “Lost in Paradise” are a couple other of their well-known songs that are included in this set.
Some of the songs that work best in this format are lesser-known tracks like the heartfelt “Imaginary” from Fallen and The Open Door's “Lacrymosa," which features a great performance from Lee that goes from reserved to all out belting. Her performance throughout is outstanding, with her powerful pipes never overshadowed by the orchestra.
The two new songs are the subdued “Hi-Lo” that features a guest appearance from violinist Lindsey Stirling and the album closer “Imperfection.” The latter has been released as a single, and its classical base has a lot of EDM and hip-hop influences.
Lee says, “’Imperfection’ is the most important song on the album for me. The song had to fit into our body of work, but at the same time, be a classic in its own right. When the lyrics started pouring out of me, I realized it was speaking to all those people we’ve been losing through depression and suicide. I sang it from the perspective of the person left behind. It’s a plea to fight for your life, and that we all need each other as humans.”
The production on the album (handled by Lee and Will Hunt) is excellent. It's grandiose and bombastic in parts, quiet and subdued in others, and working with so many instruments when recording and mixing an album is tricky. Evanescence are currently on tour playing the album with an orchestra, and having had the chance to see them, this reviewer highly recommends checking it out. As dynamic and compelling as Synthesis is on record, it's even more so live, especially with Lee's charismatic performance.
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