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EVANESCENCE - THE OPEN DOOR - SONY BMG
Record Rating: ****

EVANESCENCE - THE OPEN DOOR Evanescence’s seemingly overnight success actually took years to build. When it finally arrived though, it arrived with great speed as from out of seemingly nowhere. Their major label debut ~ 2003's Fallen ~ sold millions of copies and even nicked Amy Lee and her boys two Grammies (including the prestigious Best New Artist award) out of five for which they were nominated.

The three years since have been about as tumultuous as it gets. First there was the drama of co-founder and lead guitarist Ben Moody's contentious departure. Then last year guitarist Terry Balsamo suffered a stroke, which left his left side paralyzed. And soon after, bassist William Boyd left the band. So it’s a small miracle, of sorts, given what the band has been through, to actually see The Open Door from them.

The thirteen tracks don't deviate all that much from the formula they laid out on their debut ~ a wise idea, since there’s enough variety in it to keep boredom at bay and heads banging along lustily ~ but they do experiment enough to signal they don't view progress as a dirty word. That's most evident on first single Call Me When You're Sober, where vocalist Lee’s angst leaps bounds. And appropriately, Amy is the star here and with the help of new guitarist Terry Balsamo she tries to shepherd the band in a more mainstream direction that ranges from wistful pop rock (Like You) to brooding, post-grunge (Loose Control).

And despite tracks Lithium and Good Enough re-conjuring a vestigial relationship to the band's dirgier moments, there are enough moments of rote rocking here to make the next record a worrisome prospect. A far too obvious attempt to capture a new demographic, Evanescence need to leave the prefabricated alternative rock to the boy bands they’ve outgrown.

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