Yeah I'm EMO who fucking cares
— Skrillex (@Skrillex) March 31, 2011
Whilst marinating in my own darkness brought on by the overbearing feelings of helplessness and hopelessness that come with the not-at-all easy task of simply existing in the year of 2017, I’ve been playing on the keyboard again. A piano keyboard! Not, like, this one.
I was never formally taught to play piano, aside from a handful of lessons when I was very confident I would audition for American Idol in 2003 (the profound impact of Kimberly Caldwell, honestly), but as with everything else, I stubbornly prefer to do it myself.
I taught myself the most crucial songs that one needs to have handy to impress friends, family and suitors: Vanessa Carlton‘s “A Thousand Miles,” Britney Spears‘ “Everytime,” and, of course, “My Immortal” by Evanescence.
Ostensibly a preppy gay in high school (walking A&F advertisement with the $1 Old Navy flip-flops squad, where you at?) and armed with my Britney-coated binders, the truth is that I was totally emo. But eyeliner doesn’t work on me, so my feelings were kept internal.
Being deeply misunderstood and introverted and feeling alone (NOTHING’S CHANGED), I identified with several artists for various reasons. I already told the Utada story. But then, there was also Evanescence, a band whose name I very confidently first pronounced “E-von-uh-sonce” aloud in a crowded car of mean girls, who quickly exploded with laughter – and yes the memory is still seared into my brain. They’re all dead to me.
About fifteen years later, the music still brings on the emotions as strongly as the memories of classmates wearing these pants. “My Immortal,” specifically, remains untouchable – fight me about it at Hot Topic if you disagree.
As important as the haunting progression of the chords in that song and the over-the-top lyricism is the singer herself: Amy Lee, a legitimately underrated vocalist, and most definitely a low-key Gay Icon. After all, I know I’m far from the only gay boy who shed a tear or two listening to Fallen on their Walkman after a particularly humiliating gym class.
Of course, all this isn’t to bash the legacy of the group as un-cool or dated. They’ve obviously put out more records and toured a bunch since those impressionable high school years. But with their upcoming studio album Synthesis, they’ve brought back those unbearably awkward high school memories in a really gorgeous way.
The concept for the group’s fourth full-length, out on November 10, is fairly straightforward: it’s the most beloved moments from their back catalog like “Bring Me to Life” and “My Immortal” and “Lithium,” reimagined as orchestral-meets-electronica renditions alongside composer David Campbell and producer William B. Hunt, featuring brand new vocals from Amy.
“This is a total passion project for me. There are so many layers in our music, underneath the huge drums and guitars. I’ve always wanted to shine a light on some of the gorgeous David Campbell arrangements and programming elements in our songs, and that idea snowballed into completely re-doing them with full orchestra, not just strings, elaborate programming and experimentation…the whole thing flows like a big, dynamic soundtrack,” says the Shadow Empress herself of the record.
And indeed, the end result is a cinematic collection. To be fair, Amy could sing anything and it’d sound just as heart-wrenching – but it’s an added treat to hear her voice concentrated across string arrangements and cool, creeping Massive Attack-y blips as opposed to the band’s signature crashing guitars and drums.
Plus, there are two new tracks: “Hi-Lo” and “Imperfection,” an urgent anti-suicide plea that alternates between pent-up frustration and howling empathy. Early on, Amy sings the line: “The world’s a little more fucked up everyday” – it’s satisfying to hear. Woke Queen of Darkness!
As of now, “Bring Me To Life” and “Imperfection” are the only tracks available to hear from the record, but I can assure you the rest of the album is worth the wait too. (I’m currently getting verklempt listening to their new arrangement of “My Heart Is Broken.”)
And now, if anyone needs me, I’ll be spending the rest of the night writing poetry in my LiveJournal.