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While other nu-metal and emo bands are all but done and dusted, Evanescence still packs a heartfelt and haunting punch with Synthesis

“Innovating is hard work. You can’t just go with the same old template. It takes creativity and belief.”

Evanescence founder, frontwoman and songwriter Amy Lee and former member and guitarist Ben Moody met at camp in the mid-’90s. Both were in their teens and formed the band after Lee impressed Moody with her vocal chops, banging out a Meatloaf classic on the piano. It wasn’t until 2003 though that Evanescence became part of the collective conscious with their first studio album Fallen, a goth-metal goldmine, which has cemented its place in top-100 metal lists ever since.
 
Pitting Lee’s soaring vocals and operatic range against heavy riffs, Evanescence became synonymous with tales of depression, death and alienation. Fallen was a theatrical and angry soundtrack for a whole generation of disaffected youth, and it looks like Evanescence is set to repeat the feat with the release of their new album, Synthesis, a ground-up reworking of Evanescence’s gold standards replete with orchestral backing. 
 
While Moody abandoned ship in later years and the balance of the band’s lineup has changed intermittently, Lee has always remained faithful at the Evanescence core. She’s pumped about its current shape, particularly since guitarist and bassist Jen Majura has joined the outfit. Lee has some clear views about why this lineup works so well. “Trust develops over time, and when you have trust you can have intimacy, and you must have intimacy to make great music together,” she says. “We have a real family going on between us now and while Jen joined us two years ago now, she has a spunky, energetic, creatively thirsty spirit that could only have lifted us up. The gender balance has shifted and we’re even more equal on a primitive level. Plus, everyone in the band is an exceptional musician with diverse taste.” 
 
Interestingly, while Lee was happy in the lead up to Synthesis to spruik the fact that something exciting was afoot, the nature of the project was kept under super-tight wraps. “It was mainly because I was still developing the idea along the way, still experimenting so much, and it was hard to describe without giving people the wrong idea,” Lee explains of the decision.
 
“It’s not something that I really had a reference for. It’s not a rock band going on tour with an orchestra backing their songs all done the same way plus orchestra, and it’s not a remix with a dubstep DJ looping parts and adding reverse swells and sirens. It’s something really different. I wanted people to hear it with a blank page in their mind, and draw their own conclusions.” 
 
It turns out that Lee had the idea for Synthesis kicking around for a while, but it came to pass only when she found herself surrounded by people who wanted to make it happen. “I was bound for a very long time to people who didn’t believe I could really do the things I set out to,” Lee muses.
 
“Their energy was persistently poured into convincing me to repeat the past. I believed I was worth way more than that, so we were always fighting. Innovating is hard work. You can’t just go with the same old template. It takes creativity and belief.
 
“I’m with a management team now that believes in me so much. I not only got to make my crazy album, but also put together a touring live show with full live orchestra and duel-drummer electronica madness going on behind me. That’s something I didn’t know was possible logistically, but my manager was like, ‘We gotta take this album on tour with the orchestra.’ I didn’t even know that was possible, but he was just totally confident and excited from the beginning that we could make it work, and he did.”
 
While the songs on Synthesis are recognisable, they’re radically different from the originals. Lee already knows which one is the most likely to knock fans for a six. “I don’t really feel surprise, at least at this point, because I was hearing this in my head and then working super closely on it for a long time, but I think ‘The End of the Dream’ is the most sonically and emotionally different from its original,” she reflects.
 
“Beyond the new songs, it’s also my favourite one on the album. It redeems something for me that the old recording lost a little bit. Some of the very raw, visual, thought processing in those lyrics.” 
 
While considering which tracks to pull from the back catalogue for the new album, nothing was strictly off limits, although there were a few that Lee was happy to let rest.
 
“It wasn’t because they were perfect: it was more because I couldn’t fully embrace some lines without rolling my eyes.”  

Evanescence will perform with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra at Rod Laver Arena on Friday February 16. Synthesis is out now via Sony.