20 years ago, one of the most influential American Rock bands was birthed in the heart of Little Rock, Arkansas, after a youth music camp brought together two young musicians and friends. Ben Moody, founding member and ex- guitarist (departed in October 2003) discovered Amy Lee during this camp, as she had learned I Would Do Anything for Love by Meat Loaf on piano. This bonding over music started a fascination and a mix of styles that birthed Evanescence, mixing Classical, dark, heavy, and mainstream sounds. The band brought on friend David Hodges and recorded an ep in 1998. The band then recorded another EP, known as the Whisper EP after playing these tracks in local bars. The interest in them lead to the band recording a full length album called Origin, only making 2,500 to sell at shows.
After the departure of David Hodges, the band went on to impress several producers in Memphis at Ardent Studios and a few at Wind Up Records. This lead to the signing of Evanescence and birth of their first mass produced album “Fallen” and the addition of friends John Lecompt, Will Boyd, and Rocky Gray in 2003. Lee and Moody had already written more than 20 songs together, making the creation of the album fairly smooth. However, the two were clashing on what the band Evanescence should be about and the music they want to produce. Moody was pushing for the band to incorporate more mainstream and pop sounds, where Lee wanted the band to retain dark and mysterious attributes that the fans already loved. “Fallen” went on to sell 7 million copies in the U.S. and 17 million worldwide as well as two tracks from it be featured on the Daredevil Soundtrack. “Fallen” is listed as number six of The Best Selling Albums of the 2000s. Despite the album’s success, Evanescence was under tension with Moody and Lee on the outs. On October 22, 2003, Ben Moody departed from Evanescence due to “creative differences”. He was shortly replaced by Terry Balsamo as Evanescence embarked on a world tour in 2004 where they filmed live DVD “Anywhere But Home” in Paris, France. The live album/DVD has sold a million copies worldwide.
“Fallen” is a revolutionary Metal/Rock album in the Music Industry. Its success and unique darkness is unparalleled. This album is tremendous in its impact on young musicians and the way America approached Gothic Rock. This is really the first album that introduced me to these sounds, definitely foreign sounds that I am now discovering only exist in European Metal. I think that Amy Lee’s Classical training on piano no doubt attributes to this incredible sound that began with these EPs and translated so well into “Fallen”. I find Amy Lee to be one of the most refined and intelligent musicians in America from the birth of Evanescence till now. Her influences of alternative, Grunge, Goth, and Euro Rock and Pop and her immense talent is why “Fallen” is such a great album.
In 2006, more change was brought to Evanescence as bassist Will Boyd departed from the band to be closer to family. Amy Lee announced his replacement would be Tim Mccord, adding another incredibly talented musician to the lineup. Terry Balsamo not long after suffered a stroke, other band member’s had other projects, and their former manager had passed. All of these factors held back Lee’s plans for another album and her large ambitions for the band. However, all of these setbacks may have attributed to the meticulous brilliance that next album “The Open Door” exuded. This album had the catchiness that “Fallen” had, but was much darker and more complex. “The Open Door” was such a brilliant album that brought out Evanescence’s Gothic influences for everyone to experience in such a deep way. This album’s guitar work was simple, which bored Metal purists out of their minds, but the rest of the instrumentation was extremely dynamic. The album truly utilized Amy Lee’s talent, in my opinion. This was crucial to Evanescence’s staying power in the music industry, because it proved they could go darker and where most Metal bands in the States don’t dare to go. The new album quickly sparked a co headlining spot at Rock Am Ring and more incredible tours, as well as an incredible Yahoo! acoustic performance. Call Me When You’re Sober and Lithium were also very popular singles, ending up in the Billboard Hot Charts along with the full album. “The Open Door” sold 447,400 copies in the first week of sales. Its popularity is definitely justified in creativity, proof of talent, and unique ambiance.
The lineup changes continued after the success of the album, unfortunately good friends John Lecompt and Rocky Gray departed from the band on May 4th, 2007. It was a shocker to Evanescence fans, but didn’t hurt the progression or stability of the band. Evanescence replaced the two musicians with Will Hunt and Troy Mclawhorn from Dark New Day. The band embarked with the two on the legendary “Family Values Tour” and then “The Open Door” headlining tour. After all the touring and huge festivals, the band announced they were working on material for a new album. This lengthy album process that had a lot of setbacks and uncertain times with the label, leading to a 4 year writing process with an unofficial hiatus. The only new music the fans received was Together Again, a track Lee wrote to aid in the recovery efforts for the earthquake Haiti had suffered in 2010. As a fan, I was worried that Evanescence would not release a new album due to label troubles and so many lineup changes. It was difficult to think the band would fold because of these issues, and I thought it would be an utter waste of talent if Evanescence would cease to exist. Luckily, the band found prevailed in finding their creative spaces and completed the new self titled album. Evanescence was officially released October 11th, 2011. The album was a combination of ocean themes, falling in love, and a longing for freedom. Lee took her love for Evanescence and its previous albums and used that as fuel for a new album. The band was also inspired by the tsunami disaster in Japan and claimed the track Oceans was purely inspired by the event.
Sadly, Evanescence is on an official hiatus now due to a lawsuit and break up with Wind Up Records and more positively the birth of Amy Lee’s first child Jack Lion. The future of Evanescence is uncertain as of now, as Amy pursues solo project and other band members have other projects going on too. Amy Lee reassured fans and said she’ll never be done with Evanescence, but insight beyond that is limited. For now, fans are forced to relish in the past and enjoy these past 20 years. I have hope that there will be more Evanescence tours in the future and possibly new music as little Jack matures. So, happy 20 years to Evanescence, may there be many more in the future.