MOMENTOUS MONDAYS: INFLUENTIAL ARTISTS OF ALL TIME – WEEK 27: EVANESCENCE

‘…when we were making Evanescence I was a normal kid, going to school. But I guess not normal in the sense that I spent almost all of my free time working on making music. I’d be up until three in the morning, with headphones on, on my keyboard. My mom would complain in the morning that all she could hear all night was ‘thump, thump, thump’. But I just loved it. Being a composer, honestly, was my original dream. That’s why it’s so beautiful that I get to work with David Campbell and all these brilliant musicians on Synthesis [the latest album] – people who went to [music] school and didn’t cheat their way…I didn’t fit into a clique. For the most part I hung out by myself a lot. I really enjoy being able to be quiet and think…[now] it’s interesting. I almost feel like that wasn’t a choice [using sexual images to sell records] – I had to be who I was. What rock’n’roll is to me is being yourself, unapologetically, and not changing to fit within the machine. Being a female in the music industry a lot of the time means being overly sexualised. It was just kind of an easy, cheap way to get people to pay attention to you. I was like, that’s not who I am, and I’m not gonna pretend to be anything that I’m not…’

Maybe it’s just me, but sometimes I connect with different styles of music more than others. And it’s just natural, there will be music that you are drawn to for whatever reason, and there will be other music, that no matter how hard you try to enjoy or even like it, something doesn’t click. It can be the music, the lyrics, the overall atmosphere of the songs in general, but for whatever reason, the music in question just doesn’t tug at your heart. It just doesn’t. And that’s ok. Considering the mammoth amount of music that I have delved into this past 6 months, and the amount of music I will listen to as I journey on this blog post series that has opened my eyes to music that I didn’t know I could love and enjoy, there is bound to be music that I don’t really like. And sad to say…Evanescence is one of these artists. There, I said it. As much as I understand and fully support the band and their expression of their music, and giving people an outlet and a way to connect with people who feel the same things expressed in these songs, for me I can’t really relate. Frankly, the music is too, dare I say, depressing for me, maybe it’s because I’ve listened to a lot of hopeful and joyous songs previously then when it comes to hearing this style of music, I am a little shocked to say the least. But upon reflection and realisation this last week or so, I can firmly state that this female-fronted band, whose music reminds me a lot like Avril Lavigne meets Flyleaf meets Skillet, is a band that is hugely popular and influential, despite only 3 albums (their last album released in 2017 is a reimagining of many of their previous songs redone in symphonic form). Having said that though, Evanescence as a whole didn’t impact me as much as I thought it did. I found myself throughout the week constantly needing a break from listening to this artist- because the music was too loud, because the lyrics were too dark, just because for me, I knew from listening to even a song called ‘Bring Me to Life’, that I was never their target audience.

So if I wasn’t their target audience, why am I here writing about the band and stating that they are very much needed in the society of today, or that they are indeed influential in their craft and creating music that people (aside from myself) can be impacted with, when it hasn’t even happened for me yet? I mean, what I’m writing from here on end can be considered as mere folly or supposition, of speculation and assumption, because if a connection didn’t happen between myself and the music (as it has done countless times before in the past), then who am I to say that this music is influential- can the music impact countless of other lives, if my own life isn’t changed that drastically in the process?

Simple. Because whether or not it alters my life, and whether or not I enjoy or even like the music at the end of the day, doesn’t change the fact that this band is still influential. That is why there are plenty of genres of music to enjoy- not every music style will connect with the soul of yours, and that is perfectly fine. For me, I related a lot to Evanescence’s first album Fallen, and songs like ‘Bring Me To Life’ and ‘Tourniquet’ and their message have impacted my own life these last few weeks. But aside from those two songs…I can appreciate where the band is coming from and the messages behind these songs, but to be very, perfectly, heartfelt and honest about the band, I wasn’t really enjoying listening to the band in preparation for this blog post. It wasn’t a time where I was eagerly anticipating, because always when I’d hear the music, I’d start to worry and be like- ‘how can I write about this song and say that it impacts my own life when really, in fact, it doesn’t’. Maybe because I had written about hard-rockers and Christians Skillet before in a blog post and I was comparing Evanescence a lot to Skillet, which I shouldn’t have done. If I had listened to Evanescence prior, it may have been a little better. Nevertheless, here I am, basically done with Evanescence and their music for the time being, writing a post about why they are considered relevant and influential in not only this time period, not only in hard rock, metal and nu metal, but in all of music, period.

The songs themselves from an objective standpoint are good, there’s no denying that. ‘Going Under’ discusses drowning in an unsavoury relationship, while ‘Bring Me To Life’, arguably their most famous song ever, speaks of a longing and a crying out for someone to bring the dead parts of them to life again. A song like this, upon hearing it, feels like it is indeed a melody with Christian undertones, even if it wasn’t their initial intention. Nevertheless, ‘Bring Me To Life’ has impacted people far and wide, people of faith and people without, and that’s ok. ‘Tourniquet’ tackles the seemingly swept-under-the-rug issue of suicide, and whether if someone who is not sure of their own faith, commits suicide- what happens next. Evanescence aren’t afraid to speak out and talk about heavy issues and topics, and maybe that was part of the reason why I wasn’t enjoying much of their discography- it’s all heavy. It’s all emotive, and very dark in some places. And maybe that’s ok in order to reach people where they’re at. But for songs to sing about questions again and again, and there’s no room for answers to take place, seems a little depressing in my own head. I’ve come off a week and a bit of listening to this band, virtually every day in preparation for this, and I’ve come to this conclusion. I enjoy happy music. I enjoy music that yes, it challenges, and yes, it does deliver dark material, but at the end of the day, music that I connect to the most is when the artist reminds us all that through this darkness, we have hope on the other side, through either friends, family and other close relatives, or if you are of faith, the creator of the universe Himself coming alongside us to give us comfort and hope in the difficulties and trials that we face. For such a band as Evanescence, the hope bit was a little lacking if I were to admit, honestly.

Evanescence has had a lot of hits in their career, namely with songs early on, like ‘Call Me When You’re Sober’ (a song that is personal to Amy Lee, the lead singer, and how she broke up with her ex-boyfriend because he was always drunk), ‘Lithium’ (a song the divulges the worry and uncertainty of someone who is undecided to choose between happiness and sorrow, using the running theme of lithium the drug and the numb feelings of indifference that it causes the user), ‘Everybody’s Fool’ (a song against the music industry where everyone is fake and selling themselves rather than the music), ‘Sweet Sacrifice (of overcoming abusive relationships and not being held down and trapped by fear), and ‘Good Enough’ (a song written for The Chronicles of Narnia but was nevertheless deemed too dark for it to be considered on either the soundtrack or ‘music inspired by’). In and of themselves and in their own right, they’re good songs. Nothing against them. But for me, I’ve always felt that for songs to have an impact, they need to stand out. It needs something to say in the sea of sameness. For the songs on Evanescence, much of their discography tries to combat real heartfelt emotive topics that if all of the songs speak on heavy things, the listener can enjoy the songs, but also be lost in the depressive nature of the songs, themselves. Feeling as though they are also taking on the feelings in the song, and with much of the discography of the band being that where there is not hopeful resolution at the end, only recognising the problem; my majority of listening came with a sense of weariness and dare I say, sadness, that such a discography exists that can and does and should allow people to hear and get in touch with themselves, but hardly offers a way out of these situations and circumstances. Evanescence’s music is good, but only if you listen to it in conjunction with another artist, say someone like Andrew Peterson, Tenth Avenue North or even Skillet, artists that have more of a hopeful factor compared to this Arkansas quintet.

Which is why songs like ‘My Heart is Broken’ and ‘What You Want’, both from their third self-titled album, are much more mature songs and songs that I have connected to of late- the former being a melody written after seeing the horrors of sex trafficking, with the latter being a song of freedom, a danceable track that acknowledges that in spite of the chaos around, our outlook on life has to be one of living life to the full, regardless of what the world perceives it to be. ‘Lost in Paradise’, also present on their self-titled album, is a very personal song to Amy Lee the lead singer, as we’re reminded through the melody that you can still be in paradise and still be lost- not at peace with what seems to be an idyllic lifestyle. A song that is for the fans and speaks of why there are massive breaks between albums for the band, we’re reminded that even the famous can sometimes be disillusioned with the lifestyle that is often led when you do become famous. As the band continued their break, they unveiled to us Synthesis in 2017- 6 years after their third album. Not really considered a 4th album, a majority of it (exclusive of ‘Hi-Lo’ and ‘Imperfection’) are reworkings of their original material, redone with symphonics and electronics. A unique way to see a lot of these Evanescence songs in a new light (I myself personally love these re-done songs a lot more- less heavy and much more tranquil and reflective!), the band have indeed re-invented themselves of late.

Though I myself may not be fully there yet with regards to me enjoying music like this (super honest, and maybe even super depressive), I can still say in my assertion, that Amy Lee and the band have made a mark on heavy metal, and maybe even rock in general, that no one else have done. Honesty used to be shied away from in rock music, but with bands like Switchfoot, Skillet, Evanescence and Tenth Avenue North showing us that to be real and honest in songs is what attracts people to them, we are met with music that can touch the soul and reunite people no matter what area of life they are in at the moment. While my experience of Evanescence was one of lack-of-connecting (not because of the songs themselves, but because I didn’t really have many shared experiences with the band, nor did I feel that hopeful from hearing their music)- I can still say they are influential, because their music will mean something to someone. Evanescence write from the heart, even if it is music that doesn’t necessarily have a happy ending. If the band has the ability to bring people together who have buried their feelings deep inside, only for them to come out upon hearing such music, and for honesty and transparency no matter how ugly to transpire, then the band has served their purpose. Maybe the band wasn’t meant to write hopeful music- leave it for artists and bands like Switchfoot, Skillet, and Tenth Avenue North. Maybe all that the band was ever called to do was to write honest music, and to change the world that way. Despite only 3 ‘official’ albums, the band have been a force in the industry for more than 15 years. And maybe, just maybe, the messages and motifs, themes and revelations expounded upon in their music can still be applied today, when sadly, Evanescence is all but forgotten in favour of other sadly vapid artists- Miley Cyrus and Ariana Grande, to name a few.

Does Evanescence make the list for you all when you write your own ‘Best Influential Artists of All Time’ list? Is there any song that has impacted you on your journey through life thus far? Has this metal quintet delivered music that can transcend walks of life and maybe even walks of religion as well? Has there been some songs that have spoken to you about yourself or maybe God Almighty in the process (aside from ‘Bring Me To Life’)? Let us know in the comments. Till next time!

 

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