Evanescence – The Open Door (2006) – Review

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In the beginning, I had my doubts about The Open Door. Ben Moody just left Evanescence in a tearing hurry in October 2003. And that in the midst of the Fallen live tour to boot.

He had his reasons1), I am sure. But this certainly wasn’t the right time nor the nicest thing to do. To add insult to injury, other band members left as well after that.

Amy Lee thus became the undisputed leader of this band. And indeed, Evanescence very much morphed into her own brand after that. Hair, voice, and bodice, the whole package. And down to the red-black lipstick on her face. The band now boasted kind of a psychedelic, laid-back sound all their own. But one that never got rid of its Evanescence roots, and rightly so. A fact that would change dramatically once their self-titled record released years later.

And this is the sound The Open Door now has on offer. A record delivering rock-solid and – indeed – very dark Gothic Metal with Lee‘s hypnotic croonings all included. An often unctuous groove that feels like this hand-written note that comes with an espresso, dark chocolate, and a blood-red rose. A style that many a band tried to copy, but none really succeeded to date.

The Open Door is a deeply disturbed, even creepy, and scary record. Yet THIS is very much where its attraction lies as well. Evil tongues suggested that this record very much reflected Amy Lee‘s state of mind at the time of recording. And some of that may very well be true. The way she complains, bitches, and moans about stuff is indeed kinda scary.

On top of that, there is the infamous song Lithium, speaking about a substance that is used to combat several mental ailments. Plus things like eating disorders. It is also famously used in batteries and other industrial applications. Other bands have – by the way – also written songs about this substance, Kurt Cobain’s Nirvana being one of them in Nevermind. Again, a scary thought when knowing what happened to Cobain in the end.

All of that stuff, from lost loves to – I don’t know for sure – stalkers (?), to psychopaths and psychopathy. It all boils down to a sense of weirdness that drips off the walls of Lee‘s own nightmare.

And if you listen to The Open Door some more, this sentiment kind of gets to you. It starts to feel like that ominous witch wood, where dark roots will grip ye and never let go again. Ever. But joking apart, to transmit that kind of sentiment takes a large chunk of talent, authenticity, and know-how.

Sweet Sacrifice – incidentally the song about Ben Moody and her breakup – is one of the most noteworthy tracks on this album. But also the one on top of the scary list. There are others like Lithium or Snow White Queen. And sometimes, the stuff the band spews sounds like something that just escaped an asylum. Deep, dark – and full of fear.

Call Me when you’re Sober is nothing to write home about, though. Being the most accessible track of the pack, it rose to pretty good acclaim on the billboard charts of this world. The single version played for a long while. But compared to old Evanescence hits like My Immortal, the song sounds flat and boring. Even if there is this hyper-short evil chuckle at the very end that got on the good side of me.

Now, the midsection really got that reservation sign ‘For Evanescence nerds only’ stamped on its front door. Cloud Nine really compliments Lee‘s dark soprano powers – and/or urges. Whereas Lacrymosa and Snow White Queen are more hardcore to the point where the noodlin’ very much starts to feel like that dark forest again. Oh, and if you’re looking for that special Evanescence sound, All That I’m Living For at the very end will provide it.

Now, there are negatives, too. All would be great and dandy on The Open Door if only the band had not stuffed the piece with every friggin’ song in their repertoire. I daresay, a pretty sturdy culling of the tracklist would have produced a much crisper record. Now, sadly, the end run is littered with songs that don’t really add value.

To conclude, it was certainly not easy to produce a worthy sophomore album on top of an already extraordinary first run. And all that done under difficult circumstances to boot. Yet, Evanescence pulled that feat off beautifully. And wrote one of the best Gothic Metal albums in existence today, the undue length of the tracklist and almost toxic doom and gloom notwithstanding.

As to this reviewer, I would certainly procure a copy of The Open Door again. Only, I already got one sitting here.

Ed’s note: This review replaces the post from January 2015. Oh, and there’s an editorial on Evanescence. Check it out!

Record Rating: 7/10 | Label: Wind-Up Records | Web: Official Site
Release date: 25 September 2006


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