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Evanescence in their heyday were a stunning band. Enough said. But unrest in the ranks led to Ben Moody, the lead guitarist and song-writer, making a surprise exit in 2003 during the middle of a tour citing "creative differences" which is code for "I hate you all". For me, Evanescence did suffer creatively as a result of his departure and it goes to show the combination of Amy Lee and Ben Moody together were the real driving force behind the band. But as Evanescence continued boldly on, what of Ben Moody? Well he spent a lot of time writing and collaborating with other artists including Avril Lavigne, Kelly Clarkson and Celine Dion (that one shocked me too) before releasing an EP "Mutiny Bootleg E.P." followed by his debut solo album "All For This" in June 2009. But then Moody got back in the band saddle and came back as "We Are The Fallen" - an obvious reference / snub to Evanescence's breakout album "Fallen". Along the way he poached two of Evanescence's members Rocky Gray (drums) and John LeCompt (rhythm guitar) as well as recruiting Marty O'Brien (bass guitar) and American Idol finalist Carly Smithson for the vocals.
==Tear The World Down==
The band's debut, and to date only, album release in 2010 was "Tear The World Down" which performed pretty well in the US, but didn't feature globally, peaking on the US Billboard at 33 and at 6 for the US Hard Rock charts. It was mostly positively met but with some criticism of sounding too much like Evanescence to which Moody's response was "We cannot try to be who we are. If there is some similarity in sound, it's because that genre was created by us". Fair enough. I have to say, that the first few times I heard this album I too was struck by this similarity with Evanescence through the heavy Gothic metal and instrumental influences, but the more I listened to it, the more the band's own identity shone through and it wasn't long before that particular though was banished into the wilderness. This is definitely one of those albums that needs quite a few listens to before it starts to grow on you and then you can't shake it loose. But aren't those the best kind of albums?
"Bury Me Alive", which was the first single released getting to #31 on the main US chart and was also the first song I heard leading to me to actually buy the album, is a powerful opener and really kick starts the album. It's not massively Gothic perhaps with just a few undertones sprinkled here and there, and really is much of a good old fashioned guitar driven metal song, but it has some very catchy fast paced riffs, some interesting instrumental passages reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho and Carly Smithson gets to showcase her amazingly powerful and beautiful vocals here. Whilst comparisons with Amy Lee are inevitable she has a distinctive tone of her own and imbues an impressive range of emotion into her vocals that allows her to stand on her own two feet. Lyrically this song is nicely dark too - "Make me feel this love we used to hold, all I see is black and cold, as I try to pull you down to the ground". A very solid beginning.
Whilst being just as passionate but in a slightly more synthesised way is "Through Hell". It has much more Gothic vibes throughout with a fairly creepy opening and eerie chants but again has some incredibly catchy hooks and a belter of a chorus. Once again Smithson's vocals are incredible with her range and the sheer power she can inject and this is another powerful song. The lyrics are also a little sinister which really adds to the atmosphere - "I wake in the night and I pray that I've been dreaming. There's nowhere to hide from this nightmare calling to me. Fear in me, stays in me". Likewise we have "Burn" which keeps the Gothic ambience with a fine balance between orchestral sounds and some spooky yet heavy guitar riffs. Again this is a no-holds-barred type of song with everything thrown at it and Smithson excels again on pure passion alone, as well as being able to produce some slightly disturbing child-like moments, and this is a very captivating if somewhat unsettling song - "Shadows pulling me to lie with you, when the moonlight sings the darkness brings me back to die with you. I'd give it all away to be with you".
"St. John" is another creepy song, making use of some excellent guitar riffs and Gothic undertones running throughout whilst making more use of the piano for the first time. The chorus is particularly sinister and Smithson shows a particular adeptness in instilling a similar creepiness in her own voice which makes for a deliciously disturbing song. This is one of the catchiest and possibly most haunting songs on the album - "So ashamed of waking all my life you failed to keep me safe. My whole world's forsaken, won't let you destroy my faith again". Another tune making more use of the piano is "Without You". This song has a much more medium tempo and relies on an orchestral sound more than the distinctive guitars and shows the band can cover a range of different moods. Still a very passionate song with Smithson once again unleashing on the chorus with yet again another impressive range, this song just feels that tiny bit more about emotional torment and less about anger as seen in some previous songs - "I can define where the well ran dry, I remember every tear I cried, memories of lies, wasted all this time now we've lost it all".
"Paradigm" is another fairly medium tempo track which has a much more equal balance with the orchestral sound and heavy guitars. The chorus again portrays a song more about emotional distress than of unchecked anger but is equally as passionate as many a song gone before but with a more affecting chorus. With some excellent hooks this song will grip, and Smithson's anguished vocals really bring the song alive - "Perfect sky, shadow find my lies, good enough for always wanting mine. Replaced all your love with pain, so afraid to face the world alone". But the band has yet more emotional facets to them, and they have some really beautiful ballads up their sleeves. "Don't Leave Me Behind" is one such tune with a beautiful piano melody to begin and some slow guitar riffs to back up a melancholy orchestral sound. Smithson's vocals are again on point and her vocals are heart-rending at times and this is superbly stirring song - "So afraid of dreaming, the story is repeating, screaming. Monsters, I'm bleeding, I'm losing light in myself. Come back into me, 'cause only you can save me".
"Sleep Well, My Angel" is another such piano ballad and is positively gentle compared to the rest of the album. It's a poignant and heart-felt tune which has a touchingly tender quality to it and is beautifully sung with a moving melancholic quality to it. The song also erupts about halfway through with a dramatic emotional shift that simply mesmerises. Lyrically there is an undeniably emotive poetic quality - "Under the ash and the lies, something beautiful once here now dies, and the tears burn my eyes, as you sit there, all alone. I just want to come home". One of the more orchestral pieces on the album is "I Am Only One" which again is pure emotion and a beautiful song. Sung with heart-breaking intensity this stripped back song is all power. It is very chilled, but is still wonderfully affecting as there is simply nowhere to hide and the emotion just leaks out - "Ever after never came, and I'm still waiting for a life that never was. And all the dreams I lay to rest, the ghost that keeps me, after all that I've become, I am only one".
In a similar fashion is "I Will Stay" which again is stripped back, very slow tempo and all about the emotion. Vocally this is one of great contrasts with delicate singing offset against an impassioned chorus all resulting in another moving song although there is a lot less angst to this song and is simply one of loneliness - "Graceful and loving, tearful and soothing. Can't breathe without you,
there's no life without you here". That just leaves the closing song and I've cunningly also left the best song until last. "Tear the World Down", donating itself to the album title, is an epic finale taking a good minute and 20 seconds of atmospheric build up before igniting into a passionate onslaught. This song just ebbs and flows masterfully throughout with an ever building Gothic vibe, guitars battling against a rampant orchestral explosion and a chorus that is simply stunning. Smithson once again unleashes and this song is a relentless furore and a brilliant way to close out the album - "I've fought another day, lose another chance to break away from all I cannot bear. I suffer through the shame, wishing hope would just abandon me till this is over".
So Ben Moody is man with his fingers in many pies, but it would be hard to argue he's given less than 100% for this album. I think understandable but unfair criticism of a resemblance to Evanescence was given to this album, but even if you can't shake off the similarities that is no reason to discount this album as they are more than original in their own right, and there are worst bands to be compared to, right? Has Moody been able to recreate the magic of Evanescence's Fallen? No, but I didn't think any of the songs were weak or unmemorable on this album and it has grown into one of my favourites with some catchy, often sinister and haunting melodies, a great range of songs, stunning vocals and intriguing lyrics. I'd recommend this album to Gothic metal/rock fans as I can't really fault it, but some may be put off by unintentional similarities with Evanescence. As of yet, there seems to be no album two in the pipeline after four years and counting so my hopes are ever dwindling, but if this is all we ever get from this band it's still a fantastic piece of work.
1. "Bury Me Alive" - 8/10
2. "Burn" - 8/10
3. "Paradigm" - 9/10
4. "Don't Leave Me Behind" - 9/10
5. "Sleep Well, My Angel" - 10/10
6. "Through Hell" - 9/10
7. "I Will Stay" - 8/10
8. "Without You" - 9/10
9. "St. John" - 9/10
10. "I Am Only One" - 9/10
11. "Tear the World Down" - 10/10
Let's be clear, this is effectively Evanescence having returned without the original lead singer Amy Lee. For those of you who don't know, Evanescence were a massive band maybe ten years ago and had some huge singles. They were gothic but appealed to the main stream and Ben Moody was a big part of this. He was a great producer and knew what worked with the leader singer Amy Lee who has a phenomenal voice. Unfortunately though as in most cases he didn't like how Amy Lee was getting all the exposure and they had numerous arguments. Eventually he left taking the whole band with him and they found a new female leader singer, Carly Smithson, who initially found fame through the popular tv show American Idol. Don't get bogged down by this as she has a set of pipes on her and proves a decent replacement for Amy Lee.
So with the same member's asides from lee and a new singer, unsurprisingly this has a very Evanescence feel to the album but there were a few great tracks on her and as always I will review my favourite ones.
Bury Me Alive
This was the first single released from the album and sets the tone really for the whole album. It is very gothic and I've noticed as it is really is Ben Moody's band now that he has put a massive emphasis on the electric guitar just to stamp his mark. Vocally it is very strong and clearly Carly had to lay down a marker and show off her voice here. What I must say however is that vocally she isn't in the same league as Amy Lee but she is very good in her own right. Amy Lee has a certain haunting tone to her voice which just suited Evanescence down to a tee. As a debut track though they go hard here and really deliver.
Don't Leave Me Behind
Now this is a track which I actually feel suits Carly's voice more than Amy's and it is beautiful. Although she isn't as haunting she definitely has a certain quality that most singers dream of being able to replicate. This is a track which is a little vague but really about how she wants the guy to stay with her forever and how she belongs with him. It isn't as heavy as other tracks but not quite a ballad like My Immoral. It is like a mixture of a ballad and a heavier track and picks up the pace as it goes along. Easily one of my favourites on the album.
I Will Stay
My favourite track on the album and like I said with the previous track it really suits Carly's voice. She performs this exceptionally and it is much closer to a ballad. Very slow during the versus but picks up during the Chorus and it really has an epic feel to it. This is genius in song making and Ben Moody producing at his very best. Hopefully if they make another album, I know not particularly likely, they stick more towards this type of music as this is where they excel.
Overall I felt this was a good album, and generally very consistent, but unfortunately they were always going to live in Evanescence's shadow. Literally every YouTube video for We Are The Fallen you will find fans of both groups arguing about who is better which is quite tragic. I know we would all love to see Amy back but that will never happen. I am proud that Carly took this project on though and she did the band and herself proud.
Carly Smithson - Vocals
Ben Moody - Lead Guitars
Rocky Gray - Drummers
John LeCompt - Rhythm Guitar
Marty O'Brien - Bass
The first thing that came into my mind when listening to We Are The Fallen for the first time is that they sound very much like Evanescence. The riffs that where present in some of the earlier works of Evanescence are also present in We Are The Fallen and the music arrangements and lyrics are very similar. They have been branded Evanescence clones because of that and also for their grungy image. We Are The Fallen are like a tribute band, but they have some former members of Evanescence.
We Are The Fallen was founded by Ben Moody in 2009, with American Idol finalist Carly Smithson, old pal Marty O'Brien and former Evanescence members John LeCompt and Rocky Gray. To me it's understandable why their music sounds like Evanescence because there's a sense of Ben Moody's trademark.
Tear The World Down is their first album, it was released worldwide on May 2010 under the label Universal Republic and is produced by the group themselves along with Dan Certa. There are some very heavy influences from gothic rock and alternative and nu-metal.
If you're into female rock, then this is an album to explore. But a word of caution, if you didn't like Evanescence's debut album called Fallen, you may not see anything special in this one. Past the similarities and generic rock elements, I did enjoy the album and wouldn't mind listening to it again because it has a lot of qualities I liked and two very outstanding songs.
Carly's vocals are much more deeper than her performances in American Idol and the deepness and raw manner of holding notes create a mature sound which fit into the group well. Carly has shown much improvement from her first album, Ultimate High which was very poppy.
The album starts with their first single, Bury Me Alive with angry lyrics and gloomy melodies which lack originality but at the same time sounds very influenced by commercial music, I think the chorus is rather shaky and interrupts the flow. Burn on the other hand has a much more faster rhythm, better drumming and makes Carly sound less of an Amy Lee impersonator, making it a better track than Bury Me Alive.
I find the second half of the album much more superior. For me, Sleep Well My Angel is the best track of the album for me. It's a raw ballad and sounds like a funeral song. I think they put a lot of effort into this song with the thoughtful lyrics and beautiful piano sounds.
I also really liked St. John because of the mixture ethereal and aggressive sounds. I love the enhanced piano introduction and how how the song develops and adds more layers with the distorted guitars, the drums then the vocals. I think it's a very creative track and a track that makes me very excited for the group. I find the swift change in rhythm rather clever. Overall it's pretty creepy, but I think that's why I like it.
The album's title track, Tear The World Down leaves a very strong last impression and makes up for the stale Bury Me Alive. I like the string and choir arrangements and distorted sounds because it helps the aggressive tone sound real. I think it could have done with some stronger drumming and I don't think the choir arrangement was necessary, but other than that I think it's a great great track.
Overall the album is a mixed bag, there's some great songs, some unoriginal and some stale moments. It maintains an aggressive sound most of the time. I think this is the kind of album that gets better at the end. I'm not quite sure if I would recommend the album as whole to everybody, but would strongly recommend Sleep Well My Angel, Tear The World Down and St. John. I consider myself to be a fan and I would purchase their future albums.
1) Bury Me Alive - "Free me from your sorrow, I can't grieve you again." 2/5
2) Burn - "The darkness brings me back to die with you." 3/5
3) Paradigm - "Perfect sky, shadowed by my lies." 4/5
4) Don't Leave Me Behind - 4/5
5) Sleep Well, My Angel - "Under the ash and the lies, something beautiful once here now dies." 5/5
6) Through Hell - "Fear in me stays in me." 4/5
7) I Will Stay - "There's no life without you here." 4/5
8) Without You - "When did love fade, why are we at war?" 4/5
9) St. John - "All my questions have no answers I can feel the fear inside me." 5/5
10) I Am Only One - "Ever after never came and I'm still waiting for a love I'll never have." 5/5
11) Tear the World Down - "Waiting for you to turn around only to tear the whole world down." 5/5
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Bury Me Alive
2 Burn - We Are The Fallen, Bethanie
4 Don't Leave Me Behind
5 Sleep Well, My Angel
6 Through Hell
7 I Will Stay
8 Without You
9 St. John
10 I Am Only One
11 Tear The World Down