Considering Evanescence is one of my four all-time favourite bands alongside Green Day, Paramore and The Rasmus, and Amy Lee is hands down my very favourite vocalist, it seems like I should be saying that the six year wait for the ensemble’s fourth full-length record has been beyond excruciating. But the truth is, between Aftermath, Recover, Dream Too Much, “Love Exists” and “Speak to Me”, Amy has put out more than enough mesmerising solo material over the past half decade to keep me satisfied in the void between Evanescence albums.
However, that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been excitedly counting down the days to the release of Synthesis ever since Amy announced it was in the works back in May and now that it’s finally here, it’s even more mind-blowingly beautiful than I could have ever imagined.
Featuring a fusion of familiar songs that have been re-built from the ground up with, as Amy put it, “different tempos, with different parts, with intros and outros and segues and new pieces” and a couple of completely new compositions, the astonishing sixteen track spectacle begins by building suspense with a subtle orchestral prelude to an inordinately affecting rendition of “Never Go Back”, the terrifically theatrical music and impossibly powerful vocals of which wash rousingly across the senses ahead of the hushed but haunting pianos and singing that get “Hi-Lo” going. The indescribably touching undertaking that ensues showcases a combination of incredibly captivating choruses and awesomely elegant instrumentation, all of which lingers in the mind long after listening.
An astoundingly ethereal take on “My Heart Is Broken” follows from here, eliciting a lot of emotion as it glides gracefully towards the enthrallingly tranquil introduction of “Lacrymosa”. This spectacularly atmospheric tune was already splendidly orchestral and operatic in its original form, but the resplendence of this re-imagined version is the very definition of jaw-dropping. Starting out soft and soothing, the instrumentation becomes increasingly epic and impactful as it unfolds, and if anyone is wondering why Amy is my very favourite vocalist, you need only to listen to her vocal work here for the answer. The iconic frontwoman manages to hit notes so high during this track that I can’t even begin to articulate how impressive and affecting it is.
“The End of the Dream” is another insanely splendiferous, if you’ll pardon the pun, synthesis of inescapably engrossing and celestial singing and brilliantly bewitching music that’s bursting at the seams with feeling and fervour. It’s followed by a fantastically invigorating interpretation of Evanescence classic “Bring Me to Life”, after which a thought-provoking instrumental interlude entitled “Unraveling” sets the scene for a seductively sobering recital of “Imaginary”.
If I were to be asked what the most moving song I’ve ever heard is, I’d probably have to say “Secret Door” from the deluxe edition of Evanescence’s self-titled third album. Despite being one of the band’s simplest offerings, brought to life by little more than Amy’s vocals and harp-playing, it’s undoubtedly one of the most effective tunes to have ever appeared on an Evanescence album and the re-recording that fills the number ten spot on the Synthesis track-list is just as transcendent as its 2011 counterpart. Maintaining the hypnotic harmony and harp-playing of the original, it adds in an assortment of exhilarating orchestral elements that affords it a fabulously inspiriting undertone.
An alluringly light yet enlivening spin on “Lithium” steps into the spotlight next, exhibiting barrages of bracing vocals atop a sea of tender musical motifs until “Lost in Paradise” takes over to entrance with its tremendously resonant refrains and remarkably heartrending instrumentation. I may have proclaimed that “Secret Door” moves me more than any other Evanescence anthem, but that doesn’t mean it’s my favourite of the ensemble’s songs. Rather, that distinction goes to “Your Star” from 2006’s The Open Door and the version that appears on Synthesis in the wake of “Lost in Paradise” is an equally innovative and endearingly diverse endeavour that embeds itself deep in the memory and refuses to withdraw.
“My Immortal” also succeeds in emulating the emotion and profundity of its Fallen forebear before passing the torch to a portentous piano solo dubbed “The In-Between” to bridge the gap to another entirely original creation called “Imperfection”. To borrow some words from the single review I wrote in September, this song is brimming with breathtakingly beautiful vocals, magnificently meaningful lyrics and stupendously artful instrumentation, and it endows the album with an appropriately refined and riveting denouement.
What adjectives can I call upon to sum up my feelings about this compilation that I haven’t already utilised? Powerful, poignant, uplifting, stunning, gripping, gorgeous, exquisite, inspiring, energising and, above all else, marvellously moving, Synthesis is an absolutely masterful mixture of classical music and alt-rock that takes some of Evanescence’s best material, as well as several newly-written compositions, and adapts it all into a delightfully dramatic and extraordinarily stirring operatic extravaganza that will surely enrapture anyone who listens to it, whether they’re dedicated fans of the band or not.
No amount of words nor a five star rating are sufficient to do justice to the phenomenal grandeur of this record, so if you haven’t experienced Synthesis for yourself yet, then head straight over to iTunes to download it and rectify your grave error at once.