(01 February 2003) The debut album from the Little Rock, Arkansas-based trio Evanescence entitled Origin (Bigwig Enterprises (USA) BW002, 2000) is an eleven-track collection of eclectic tunes. The band's music revolves around their stunning lead vocalist Amy Lee. Unfortunately now out of print, the album joins their earlier EP and demo releases as a much sought-after rarity; search for second hand copies online. Certain to appeal to enthusiasts of Lacuna Coil (review), Brave (review) and Persephone's Dream (review), Origin is a masterpiece and has rightly launched the group to a new commercial level with their follow-up Fallen (review).
The band's debut album is built around the heavenly vocals of Amy Lee. "We're definitely a rock band," says the 20-year old Lee. "But the twist is that the band's music is epic, dramatic, dark rock." It clearly fits into our alternative/progressive category with elements of gothic, metal, progressive and rock.
Co-founders Lee and guitarist/songwriter Ben Moody met while in their early teens. "We were at a youth camp," Moody recalls. "During some sort of recreational period held in the gymnasium, I heard Amy playing Meat Loaf's 'I'd Do Anything For Love' at the piano. So I went over to meet her, and she started singing for me. I was pretty much blown away, so I suckered her into joining a band with me." Since that day, the musical relationship has remained dependably loyal. "We have the same exact vision regarding what we love about music," Moody says. "When it comes to songwriting, we finish each other's thoughts." Prepare to be blown away by the band's material.
On the debut album, Lee and Moody were joined by David Hodges as the third band member. Additional musicians include: William James Boyd (bass on "Away From Me"), Bruce Fitzhugh and Stephanie Pierce (vocals on "Lies"), Suvi Petrajajrvi, Sara Moore, Catherine Harris and Samantha Strong (female vocal ensemble on "Field Of Innocence"). The band has undergone line-up changes in the run-up to their second album Fallen.
Todd Brown of True Tunes magazine writes, "Origin is a stunning record, sweeping in scope and power and absolutely pristine sonically. That the band could produce something this textured, subtle, and gripping on a negligible budget is a testament to Moody’s enormous innate skills as a producer, Amy Lee’s gripping vocals and the band’s gift for balancing aggression and beauty within their powerful, layered arrangements." We could not agree more.
The album is a gripping project, one that will strike listeners from first play. A limited use of effects and timely use of metal-edged arrangements contributes attitude to
the otherwise heavenly sound of Amy Lee's vocals right from the title track. The drone of electric guitar is perfectly complimented Lacuna Coil-style by sweet lead and backing vocals in "Whisper" which follows.
"Imaginary" is one of the album's standouts. Layers of Amy's tender vocals are supported by powerful metal-edged instrumentals. Additional further layers of Amy's vocalise soar in the background contributing depth to the arrangement. "Where Will You Go" is a storming rocker with lush keyboards underscoring the arrangement. But Amy's vocals remain on top, right where they belong.
The album's ballads reveal the range, power and depth of Amy Lee's incredible vocal talent. "My Immortal" is simply stunning, evocatively sung supported by piano and light electronic undertones. Both Lee's and Moody's harmony vocals add a lovely texture. The mysterious morse code sequence in the background has drawn extensive discussion at the band's website. "Field Of Innocence" continues in a similar vein but is instrumentally thicker; the female vocal ensemble contributes depth to the tune. "Anywhere" is equally stunning with rich harmonies in the choruses contrasting the verses.
The band's ability to weave gothic textures into their sound further emerges in "Even In Death" and "Away From Me." We especially enjoyed the beauty and beast style of "Lies." Lee's soprano vocals soar through scales during the instrumental sections and heavy metal-edged passages, complimenting the arrangements in a style most reminscent of Lacuna Coil. The extended and progressive-style instrumental "Eternal" concludes the album.
Evanescence is rapidly capturing the attention of an ever expanding listener base. Their debut album Origin demonstrates the band's songwriting abilities and instrumental talents but most importantly it provides the platform for Amy Lee's incredible vocals. Clearly worth a trans-Atlantic journey, this album is a must listen!