Review: “The Bitter Truth” reclaims the classic Evanescence

William Sikich

On March 26 of this year, unequivocally reasserting their familiar style and creative quality, Evanescence released its newest album into the cyberworld of music-streaming databases.
“The Bitter Truth” is Evanescence’s first full album since the transformative, “Synthesis,” which deviated so completely from their established sound that it served as a personal statement as much as a performance by the band’s founder and lead vocalist Amy Lee.
After her lawsuit against and subsequent break from Wind-Up Records, Lee created “Synthesis” to showcase the creative mind that, unfettered by the constraints and prejudices of a cynical industry, would have produced music of a sort totally unlike the band’s major radio hits. 
The album revamped several of Evanescence’s more popular tracks with an orchestral accompaniment and a stronger emphasis on Lee’s vocal performance, demonstrating the metamorphic nature of the band’s newfound independence.
Evanescence reclaims its classic sound with “The Bitter Truth.” The album marks their triumphant return, post-Wind-Up, to the sometimes-gothic-sometimes-tender style that made the band famous; and it works just as famously as ever.
What “Synthesis” accomplished by dint of divergence “The Bitter Truth” does by agreement. The combination of the band’s old goth-rock sound with new lyrics establishes their now complete break from Wind-Up Records. We now have an Evanescence album that, without significant deviation in style or quality, exists without the permission of a tyrannical label.
The creative freedom of “The Bitter Truth” manifests itself most powerfully through its lyrics. Tracks like “Better Without You” and “Use My Voice” directly and movingly declare Lee’s attitude toward those who would restrict her agency, creative or otherwise.
“Use My Voice,” in particular, represents Lee’s liberated state of mind. “Don’t you speak for me,” she belts. “Whether you like it or not, you’re gonna take what I got.” This unyielding self-assertion pervades the entire album, complementing the characteristic intensity of Evanescence’s rock instrumentals.
Meanwhile, tracks like “Far From Heaven” recall the softer, more lyrical pieces that have long proven Evanescence’s versatility as a band. Each of their albums features “harder” tracks that lean into the rock elements of their music, as well as those that highlight Lee’s self-taught vocal skills.
Two of the band’s most iconic hits, “Bring Me to Life” and “My Immortal,” perfectly embody this dichotomy of sound. I am therefore quite pleased to discover a similar dynamic in their first album as a new and reinvented band.
A couple tracks on “The Bitter Truth” also contain an experimental touch, another of the signature Evanescence flavors that I am happy to see again.
In the past, pieces like “Haunted” and “Lacrymosa” have successfully incorporated unique and playful structures. These pieces are refreshing and really complete the goth-metal listening experience by way of occasional caesura.
“The Bitter Truth” maintains this tradition in the form of “Artifact/The Turn,” which kicks off the album via an eerie, electronic soundscape, and “Better Without You,” which uses the sounds of a music box to introduce and keep time throughout the track.
Hopefully, the inclusion of each of these classic Lee hallmarks is enough to convince fans to revisit and hear what more she has to say. Evanescence is back — brash and undeniable. Check this album out for the rebirth of the Amy Lee experience.