Sony Music (label)
26 March 2021 (released)
25 March 2021
The Bitter Truth marks the forthright return of Evanescence.
The band’s fifth studio album is its first of entirely new material in a decade. Despite the long break between new creations, it’s fair to say that the group have come to the recording booth fired up.
Speaking in press notes, lead singer Amy Lee says of the album :
“The Bitter Truth, speaks on one level to the world we live in today, in the belief that we must face reality, no matter how ugly or difficult that is, in order to move forward. But there is also an internal parallel: there can be no healing without first facing the pain”.
Whether in the public space or in personal reflections, the LP’s through line is that of truth. The album seeks to doll it out to those who would rather not hear, confronts personal realities, and defies the naysayers to speak it to the world.
The early highlight ‘Yeah Right’ is a look at the reality of fame.
“I'm a queen resurrected, just as messed up as before
Twist the knife hard”…
The song hints at navigating the lows and the not quite so straightforward highs of the music business. A rock star she may be, but the storyteller isn’t naïve enough to think that she can reach a meteoric like height where all her problems disappear.
Amy Lee’s voice not only sounds great in the early goings, but the production also employs a catchy burping synthetic beat which helps to provide the song an early energy.
This fiery earnestness is also on full display during ‘Take Cover’ and ‘Better without You’.
The former may use near apocalyptic language, but Lee revealed on Instagram, that the song is grounded in the many challenges she and the band have had to face to make it where they are today
“As empires fall to pieces, our ashes twisting in the air, it makes me smile to know that I'm better without you” the musician sings, as guitars mince through the track.
‘Take Cover’ meanwhile, finds the album’s hero in all conquering mood.
Drums rumble as if proclaiming a forthcoming battle. While singing of “wrath” and “taking you all down”, the front woman carries off the fury of an oncoming storm, and the cool certainty of fate itself.
The storyteller is claiming what is rightfully theirs, woe betide anyone that stand in their way. Lyrics have an epic quality to them as they paint a movie-esque picture of the wrongdoers being swept aside once and for all.
If you’re not convinced that empowerment is a key tenant of The Bitter Truth, then ‘Use My Voice’ should remove any lingering doubt.
Written to encourage voter registration in last year’s US election the song is the record’s most radio friendly offering. Evanescence receive backing from a host of voices to complement a robust rock sound and the front woman’s songbird vocals.
The anthem isn’t the best tune on the record, but it does neatly distill what many of the other songs are in part at least driving towards. At one point the singer passionately exclaims:
“Whether you like it or not, you're gonna take what I got, if we can't talk about it, we'll just keep drowning in it”.
Not only should we face truth and the reality of it, but be unafraid to use our voice to be heard.
The dozen tracks are not just tales of fire and fury but also a look at more personal truths. ‘Broken Pieces Shine’ admits that life sometimes hurts and it's okay to face it head on, while ‘Far from Heaven’ is desperate to believe, despite the darkness. The latter even does away with the industrial-strength guitar in favour of down beat piano.
Throughout proceedings Lee’s ethereal voice serves as a natural counterpoint to Evanescence’s typically imposing sound. Amy Lee’s distinctive vocal impresses throughout the project, but ‘Far from Heaven’ provides an all too rare opportunity to hear it without such an intense wall of noise.