Amy Lee is the last original member still standing in the turgid goth-metal outfit Evanescence, and it’s just as well: Once she unfurls her overbearingly operatic voice, there’s scant room for anybody else. Bellowing like a vampire princess that’s been hurled into the bottomless reaches of hell, Lee specializes in mid-tempo, melodramatic, melismatic, heavy riffing balladry that manages the singular feat of sounding ridiculous and joyless simultaneously. Backed by a new batch of faceless, lurching, and seriously soul-patchin’ bros, Lee revives the Evanescence name for this self-titled release, the band’s first in five years. As unwelcome as this relic of Bush-era ’00s miserablism is, Lee can’t be faulted for recognizing that today’s tough economic times call for draggy, Enya-on-BGH dirges that obliterate puny human feeling under the weight of Lee’s titanic, supernatural emoting.
“I think I finally understand what it means to be lost,” Lee intones from up on high at the start “Oceans,” which like most of Evanescence begins at intensely aggrieved before launching heavenward toward new, unexplored regions of angst. Maniacally narcissistic, Evanescence is corny in the way only music so grim and humorless—and yet irredeemably stupid—can be. Which is a shame, because Lee really can sing, and the opener “What You Want” shows she has the pipes (and even the submerged spunk) to become the new Pat Benatar this generation desperately needs. If she could just get over herself already: Lee’s old bandmates discovered long ago that Evanescence was worth leaving behind; when will she get the hint?