In 2003, the Little Rock-founded Evanescence administered a dose of grandiose gothic orchestration to the modern rock charts with the release of their first album “Fallen.” The group spent more than a year in the Billboard Top 20, garnered two major Grammys and opened the radio waves to a choir of imitators of their operatic nu-metal. They were enormously influential to the genre.
But when members of the original lineup started to, well, evanesce away from singer Amy Lee mere months into their rapid rise, the dejected, betrayed and yearningly desperate sound of the album provided an ironically pertinent soundtrack to the band's internal soap opera of personal, professional and romantic heartbreak.
And like that, with the dissolution of the band during the height of its popularity, the close-up of Lee on the cover of the album began to read less like the daring stare of a confident newcomer and more like the cocky smirk of an oft-vilified “controversiette,” content to scab the original members with replacements from other nu-metal bands and continue with Evanesence, which is releasing a new, Steve Lillywhite-produced album this summer.
Years later, Moody, LeCompt and Gray have returned with the provocatively named We Are The Fallen. The sound is familiarly orchestral and emotional; the singer, Carly Smithson of “American Idol” fame, attacks the mic with familiar vocal dramatics and, let's face it, bears a resemblance to a certain other female singer.
The fact she sang two Evanescence hits (“Wake Me Up Inside” and “Bring Me to Life”) during her “American Idols Live!” tour raises eyebrows even further.
The similarities are titillating to gossipy rock fans and writers alike, providing a must-ask question that immediately puts We are the Fallen on the defensive during interviews. They're quick to provide answers that shrug off the similarities.
Over the phone earlier this week, Ben Moody shrugged it off.
“We saw it coming. What are we going to do? We are what we are. Of course we're going to sound like we sound. We created that genre.”
It may draw scoffs from the more pessimistic, but it's hard not to respect that brand of “pick yourself up and try again” resiliency, not to mention their resoluteness in bringing their new act to one of the hometown clubs that hosted their former band before they filled stadiums. It's a statement backed up by a new single, “Bury Me Alive,” which strikes me as better than anything they ever did with Evanescence.
While Moody insists that a rivalry between the two bands is only perceived by fans, chalk me up to Team Ben/John/Rocky. And here's to looking forward to future battles on the charts.
We Are The Fallen With Aerias and Burningeverafter
9 p.m. Tuesday, May 25