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The Open Door
Wind Up Records

In many ways, Evanescence changed the landscape of modern rock at the start of the new millennium by forging a path of Goth-rock metal images and classical piano musings adorned with Sarah Brightman-like operatic vocal tones. Unlike their Goth-rock counter-partner Marilyn Monson, Evanescence's orchestral-pop elements were personable as they weaved through the hard rock mazes which struck a chord with audiences on their full length debut release Fallen. Their sequel, The Open Door is doing equally well for them which shows that music fans have not saturated their desire for lead singer Amy Lee's melodramatic vocals and the cacophonous rattling of her music troop which presently includes bassist Tim McCord, drummer Rocky Gray, and guitarists John LeCompt and Cold's guitarist Terry Balsamo, who replaces her previous partner Ben Moody. The Open Door is actually lighter in tone and more uplifting then the macabre Fallen, but equally as penetrating and intense.

The opening track "Sweet Sacrifice" has the typical theatrical characteristics of Evanescence with a symphonic voicing rising and gliding through the vocal shafts and intense instrument tones. The rhythmic grooves and chord changes tailor an aura around Lee's voice, moving with her and deepening her vocal hues. The album, which was produced by Evanescence's long-time collaborator Dave Fortman, shows many of Evanescence's typically dark lyrical themes, as in "Sweet Sacrifice" when Lee calls out, "I dream in darkness/ I sleep to die/ Erase the silence/ Erase my life/ Our burning ashes/ Blacken the day/ A world of nothingness/ Blow me away." Her lyrics are as poetically versed as Wordsworth and the music is evenly poetically seamed. The haunting piano soliloquy on "Call Me When You're Sober" is intensified with a pouring of molten guitar collates, hounding rhythms, and a smoldering string assortment. The braiding guitar twists on "Weight Of The World" have a mid-eastern accent and Lee's howls are cavernous. On the rock ballad "Lithium," her vocal tones slink around the chord changes, coast across the melodic floor and fondle the syllables of each word while being circled by guitar riffs that gust breezily as an empyreal string arrangement deepens the melodic textures.

Lee's curvaceous vocals give the songs charm and a subtle mysticism, as her libretto resonance on "Snow White Queen" and "Cloud Nine" give hard rock chimeras a sensual vibration. Tracks like "Lacrymosa" and "All That I'm Living For" have the bonus of spigots of ghostly choirs which intensify the lavish grand piano tinkles and shearing guitar razzles. The movements billow softly and tempestuously through the transitions creating lush dynamics. Lee's impassioned vocals on "Your Star" and "The Only One" are showered with orchestral upheavals interspersed with thorns of demonic guitar ripostes. The album concludes with the mellow dramatic piece "Good Enough", embodying a somber piano melody and angelic strings compiled with Lee's operatic voicing.

The Open Door is typical of Evanescence and yet advances their style into lighter tones and more uplifting movements. The music is still opulently dark and hauntingly gloomy, but with more confidence and a deeper sense of strength, rather than the helplessness protruding in Fallen. The poetic lines are still present but with more diversity and new accents. Cold's guitarist Terry Balsamo not only brought Cold's tempestuous guitar fretting but actually Evanescence-ized it to fit with Amy Lee and company. The Open Door is just as exciting as Fallen only less crestfallen and morose. Somehow, Evanescence's sonnets are just as universally meaningful as they were back in 2003.

-Susan Frances

Track listing:
1. Sweet Sacrifice
2. Call Me When You're Sober
3. Weight Of The World
4. Lithium
5. Cloud Nine
6. Snow White Queen
7. Lacrymosa
8. Like You
9. Lose Control
10. The Only One
11. Your Star
12. All That I'm Living For
13. Good Enough

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