CLASSIC ALBUMS REVISITED: Evanescence’s Debut Album “Fallen” was Released 20 Years Ago


Twenty years ago today (3/4/2003), Evanescence came on the scene with their debut album Fallen (Wind-Up Records) with a bonafide smash success out of the gate. Behind the scenes, there were growing pains for the young band, formed as teens in the mid-1990s. Mainly led by Amy Lee and Ben Moody, along with contributor David Hodges, the band from Little Rock, Arkansas practically exploded on the scene with an unlikely hit song the band was feeling reluctant about. However, it was the rest of the album that coalesced a style that the group ended up forging into a lasting sound they continue to ply to this day.


By now most people with a cursory knowledge of popular music know the song “Bring Me To Life” for its ubiquitous dueling singing/rap-metal chorus being one of the last gasps of the Nu Metal boom at the time. The band, particularly singer and leader Lee was vehemently against adding the rapping parts featuring Paul McCoy of then-label mates 12 Stones, but the label overruled her and the band. First appearing in the Ben Affleck-led superhero movie Daredevil, and then as their debut single a month after release, the song was a worldwide hit and definitely a catchy bop for the time. Today the band performs the song live without the rapping parts.


There was a lot of meddling with the band by their label on the debut, and not for the best. They were aggressively marketed by Wind-Up to the Christian music market, and while considering the lyrics of “Tourniquet” – that makes some sense. The vast majority of the album’s lyrics center on a loss of love and innocence, rather than religious overtones.



At heart, Evanescence always wanted to be a sad girl Goth-Rock band, with some Trip-Hop influences (Bjork, PJ Harvey, Sneaker Pimps, Portishead), with Amy’s classical music upbringing coming to the foreground with her melodies, piano playing, and arrangements. A bit too pop to veer fully into the prog of the European Symphonic led metal bands, Lee would prove herself adept at working in that style on occasion on later releases. Her powerful voice carried most of the songs on the debut album, and it’s easy to see why she became the focal point of the group going forward. Hodges left after the making of the album and Moody was gone 7 months later during their first European tour. Both are music producers to this day. The album sold millions on the strength of “Bring Me To Life” (over a billion video views on YouTube and close to that number on streaming services) and other hit singles, such as the classic 2000s ballad “My Immortal” – “Going Under” and “Everybody’s Fool!” The latter tracks really built the foundation the group would mine in future albums, such as their follow-up The Open Door.


Although some of the songs were written when Lee was a youth and she spent years with an admitted uneasy relationship with some of the tracks, there are also some surprisingly deep moments on the album too. In particular the underrated cuts such as “Haunted,” “Imaginary,” “Hello” (in which the piano in the verses will remind you of the main theme of “Carmina Burana”), and “Whisper.”



Aside from bringing in some acclaimed arrangers (film composter Graeme Ravel arranged the strings on “My Immortal”), much of the credit goes to Lee and Moody for the writing. Dave Fortman (Ugly Kid Joe, Slipknot, Mudvayne, OTEP) did a great job with the production, and Josh Freese (Descendants, A Perfect Circle, DEVO) brought the requisite thunder behind the kit. For the time it was released the album, suffers neither the muddiness of the “loudness war,” or the lo-fi mastering craze of the time and has a production that allows the listener to become enmeshed in strings, piano parts, and layers of vocals.


Full of killer hooks, great vocals, blue moods, and bops, Evanescence and this release deserve some more respect on their name after all these years.


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