The Bitter Truth
|The Bitter Truth|
|Studio album by Evanescence|
|Released||March 26, 2021|
|Recorded||January - February, July - November 2020; Rock Falcon Studio, Nashville, TN; Blackbird, Nashville, TN; Ocean Way Nashville, TN|
|Label||Evanescence under exclusive license to BMG Rights Management (US) LLC|
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The Bitter Truth is Evanescence's fifth studio album that was released on March 26, 2021 through BMG. It was originally going to be released in late 2020, but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic which slowed down the recording. The band hit the studio multiple times in 2020 to record the album.
The album is described in the press release as an epic, guitar-driven collection inspired by the (often-bitter) realities of the 21st century and our world.
Prior to its release, on March 11, 2021, the album was leaked in its entirety online.
Amy confirmed that the new music will go back to its rock roots and that they've got some ideas in the bank, including previous songs that didn't make it to the self-titled record and Synthesis. The band wrote intermittently during the 2019 tour. The band made it clear from the start that they will release songs throughout 2020 before releasing the full album.
Four singles were released throughout 2020 in anticipation of the record, which were the first songs the band recorded in early 2020.
After releasing 2017's Synthesis, Amy said the next album would go raw and focus on the band. Later, she confirmed that the new songs are in a "place that’s even more raw", adding they are "all different" from each other.
|"The songs came from all different places, they're not all in the same vein. It's going really great. It's a combination of a lot of things. It's definitely 100 percent us, but it's also taking risks, and I think it's meaningful — deeply meaningful... A lot of it has attitude."
"I definitely have felt like I have one foot on the other side a lot the past two years, so there's a lot of writing that's, I guess in a way back to my roots in that I'm searching for meaning in things... That stuff's all in there. But it's not all dark and serious."
In an interview with Rock Sound in May 2020, Amy discussed the album's sound:
Amy said the songs from the album will be released one at a time as the album is still being written and recorded. "I want to live more in the moment with our music. To let each song have its own moment to be felt simultaneously by us and our fans. To connect us more", she told Rolling Stone India.
In June 2020, she indicated the new songs have a "90s, grungy alternative" sound:
|The songs are all different. I want this album to show all of our sides, really, but most importantly I want to create without thinking too much about what I want it to be, and just let it be what it is. There’s definitely a little bit of a 90s, grungy alternative thing emerging which is lovely, that’s a return to roots for me in the most honest sense since that’s the music that inspired me so much in my formative years.|
In late June, she said the album will be a journey and revealed that a song from the initial sessions for Evanescence was revamped for the new album:
|It's going to be a journey. One of the songs we’ve recorded so far is from 10 years ago, from the first time we went in to record our third album. Completely reformed into a special new thing. Up to now, some of the songs are being written now, some aren’t even written yet. And so much has happened this year, there’s so much to say. So yes there are themes, but I think the biggest one is about time. Past, present, and future all at once. And part of that has to do with how the album is still a living, growing thing, as it is being slowly released. Like life.|
She disclosed the inspiration behind the new songs in a Marie Claire interview:
|“There are songs that are a part of this album that have been in the works for a decade, and songs that just started up this year. I get inspired being in nature, walking through the woods, looking up close at weird bugs.” But her biggest inspirations are the emotional experiences she’s had in her life, something that makes Evanescence’s music “as dramatic as it is.” “Things like losing someone you love, being a part of creating a new life.” Lee says. “[They] rock me on a deep level to a point where I feel like I have to make music.”|
On Kerrang! cover story in September, Amy discussed the album:
|“It’s a rock record. We wanted to showcase the strength, fun and power of the band. There’s no holding back. It’s heavy sonically, and it feels good to go heavy. Really good. But it’s not heavy for heavy’s sake.”|
She went on to state that, despite as of September being three singles into the record, we “haven’t heard all the sounds of the album yet”. She promised songs with “score-like drama” and “aggressive power”. Sometimes the unbridled energy sparked by the group reconvening after months of quarantine spawned utterly joyous “balls to the wall” moments. Double bass drumming is mentioned. Perhaps most exciting is Amy revealing there is an infusion of the “catty vibe” that defined classic single Call Me When You're Sober.
In late 2020, she told Kerrang!:
In a press release, she said:
|"I want people to come away from this album feeling hope and empowerment and strength. Something that inspires me a lot in life is people who have overcome great obstacles — survivors. I hope we can pass on the idea that even when things are impossibly painful life is worth living. Leaning into those darkest, most challenging moments, facing them and finding we're not alone in them, makes us real. Makes us strong enough to take them on. And it brings us together, if we let it, in a deeper appreciation of the light... and the truth. Thanks for the memories. Now let's go make some new ones."|
Recording Process & In the Studio
The band recorded the first four songs with Nick Raskulinecz at his studio, Rock Falcon Studio, on January 20th and concluded on February 5th. One of those will be released as a single around April. They aimed at working with another producer on songs in the vein of The Open Door and "electronic, weird, mid-tempo world." Amy said she wants to release songs over the course of 2020 and in the end the full album will be released.
No orchestra was recorded for some of the songs from the album, with Amy saying "that's not because we couldn't get together with one because of the [COVID-19] pandemic!" Instead of strings, electronics (such as synthesizers, arpeggiators and sound effects) were used.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the band worked remotely by sending ideas to each other. By June Amy said they came to a point where they have to get together to finish the album and were trying to figure out how to safely get it done.
On August 10, producer Nick posted on Instagram that Will Hunt tracked 9 songs. On a snare it's written "Evanescence Bitter Pill Sessions" and also gave away two song titles. The post was later taken down.
On August 14, Amy revealed in an interview with Billboard that the band went back to the studio for a few weeks to resume recording. All U.S.-based band members were brought by tour buses after being tested negative for COVID-19, wore masks and had contact with no one else while they were together. She also revealed on the Zoom premiere of Use My Voice that Nick will handle the production of the whole album. Thus, the band will not work with different producers as originally planned, turning Nick into the album's sole producer.
On August 21, Amy revealed in a SiriusXM interview that all American band members finished their parts in one month, Jen has been working remotely since she lives in Germany, and she's been working on lyrics, keyboards, and programming. Amy has been enjoying the use of sound design, programming and synthesizers on the new material. No strings were recorded so far, but it doesn't mean they might not add string sections in some songs.
During a Q&A held on Evanescence's Facebook on September 1, Amy said she was writing lyrics to the songs that already had guitars and drums recorded. She also revealed that some songs written during the creation of the self-titled third album that "didn't get finished or was a piece that didn't fit that puzzle" were finished out for The Bitter Truth.
Amy told Kerrang! on September 9 that the album was "70%" done, adding "It’s hard to say because I’m still writing." She also revealed a song under its working title, Pickle Mustard. "It’s a tentative title. I’m pretty sure that’s going to change." This was later revealed to be Part of Me.
A 25-second studio clip showing Amy playing a new song on the piano was posted on the band's Instagram stories on September 30, 2020. Watch it here. A clip of Troy recording guitar to a new song was posted on their Instagram story on October 17.
Amy revealed in an interview on October 29 that the album is nearly finished, but said she can't set a release date while she's writing lyrics. She added recordings will be completed in 2020 and hinted the album may be released in early 2021.
On November 3, Amy revealed she was deciding which order the songs would run on the album and was listening to it as a whole in order to think about the "journey of the stories." She said the LP is "weirdly concise" and goes through a lot of different "musical places." She noted she was still writing lyrics and added she was putting the finishing touches on the songs, such as orchestration and programming.
On April 14, 2021, Amy revealed three unfinished songs didn't make the final cut on the album, but the band recorded full structures, guitars and drums for these songs. She said "a couple of them" will eventually get finished.
Album title and artwork
In a interview in May 2020, Amy explained the album title:
|There's a big theme of disillusionment for me. Just growing up and seeing that fairy tales aren't really real. And it's hard to be a grownup — it really is. Because somebody else isn't in charge, we really have to be able to make our own decisions, find out our own information, protect ourselves. People die — we're all going to. There's no magic castle. So that sounds like a lot of doom and gloom when I say it, but there's a choice to accept that truth and live in it and embrace it and choose to live and choose to live in a moment, and the choice to just give up. And there's a struggle there, but my choice is most definitely to take that pill.|
When asked why the album is called what it is, she answered:
|Even though the truth can be incredibly difficult and painful, it's still better than living a lie.|
She further discussed the album title in another interview:
|“It’s called The Bitter Truth because one of the biggest themes for sure is truth vs. lies, love vs. hate, shining a light in the dark. It also connects to embracing our flaws and not being afraid to be who we are outwardly. I sing about it because that’s a challenge for me. I’m always singing from my own experience and desires in life and when that crosses over for someone else that’s awesome but everything I sing about is definitely from an introspective place.”|
In an interview in late September 2020, she said:
|The album's called 'The Bitter Truth' for a reason. It's not about showing your prettiest side; it's about showing your realest inside and being more of your true self on the outside at any cost. I feel like there's a way that you can have a strong opinion and still be respectful to your fellow humans that don't necessarily agree with you.|
She told in the official biography accompanying press copies of the album:
|The title, The Bitter Truth, speaks on one level to the world we live in today, in the belief that we must face reality, no matter how ugly or difficult that is, in order to move forward. But there is also an internal parallel: there can be no healing without first facing the pain. The bitter truth, for me, is that life is short and the choice is that I'm not going to waste it. Our mortality is fresh in our minds. This became fuel for our fire after the pandemic, the lockdown, through 2020 and making this album. We decided we weren't going to let anything stop us. We weren't going to wait around for the world to fix itself. We were going to put all our focus into finishing the album we started. Find new ways to keep on, make our own videos, whatever it took. This time has been hard, but having the music has been an incredible life-giving outlet for me and for all of us in the band. It was a place to pour our frustrations, our rage, our grief and our love to create a world we had some control over.|
The album was announced on April 17, 2020 with no release date, as the plan was to release one song at a time while the album was in the making. Amy suggested releasing the band's fifth effort "in a different way" in a 2019 interview. She explained the idea behind it:
On December 4 the album's pre-order on New Zealand's Apple Music revealed it will be released on March 26, 2021 and feature 12 tracks. It was available on digital version, CD, vinyl, and a limited edition deluxe fan box set featuring a bonus CD, journal, poster, and special cassette of exclusive audio from the making of The Bitter Truth.
Wasted on You was the first single that was released digitally on April 24th. The official music video premiered on YouTube later that same day. It wasn't originally planned to be the first song, but after the COVID-19 pandemic, the band decided to release it first saying "the feeling and meaning [changed] of what we wanted to say right now."
The second single, The Game is Over, was released on July 1, 2020. Amy Lee said that the song is "a promise to [herself] and out loud that [she's] going to be more of [her] real, inner self on the outside — not lock her up because she can't be contained anymore. It's also a prayer to become better, to not feel so messed up, locked up, and hurt inside."
The third single, Use My Voice, was released on August 14, 2020. For this, the band teamed up with HeadCount which is a non-profit, non-partisan organization, to help make it easy to register to vote for U.S. citizens. If you visit www.usemyvoice.org between now and September 30, 2020 to get yourself vote-ready (for U.S. citizens only), you will get access to a free, private online performance from Evanescence in October. For fans outside the U.S. they can pledge to vote here and they will also get sent the link for the performance nearer the time. With this song, Amy said she hopes "to inspire others to seek truth, find their own voices and use them as I step up to use mine. Don’t let anybody speak for you. Only you can do that." This was originally planned as the first single, but Wasted on You was released instead due to the pandemic.
The fourth single, Yeah Right, was released on December 4, 2020 along with the album's pre-order. The song was originally written for Evanescence, but scrapped at Wind-Up's behest along with the material recorded with Steve Lillywhite in 2010. It was later revamped for The Bitter Truth.
Wasted on You is the first music video from the album and was shot by the band themselves on their iPhones. A second official video was put together with fan clips sent on TikTok, which was released on June 24.
Use My Voice is the third music video, which premiered on August 28. Directed by Eric D. Howell and shot in Nashville, Minneapolis and Germany, the video follows Amy Lee, her bandmates and a variety of other activists armed with flags, flares and signs in protest.
In a fan Zoom call for the listening party of The Bitter Truth on March 23, 2021, Amy confirmed that a music video for Better Without You is planned and will be directed by Eric D. Howell. It premiered on April 16.
The band were scheduled to embark on the co-headlining Worlds Collide Tour with Within Temptation in Spring 2020, but it was rescheduled to Fall 2020 due to the pandemic. Due to the same reason, the tour was postponed a second time, to September and October 2021. It was postponed a third time, to Spring 2022.
The band held a Driven To Perform livestream concert hosted by Alice Cooper on May 13.
Embracing The Bitter Truth
A behind the scenes documentary of the album, called Embracing The Bitter Truth, premiered on The Coda Collective and Amazon Prime on March 26th. It was only available on US Prime on release day, but The Coda Collective are working on expanding it to other territories. On May 24, it was made available in 38 countries.
|1.||"Artifact/The Turn"||Amy Lee, Scott Kirkland||2:26|
|2.||"Broken Pieces Shine"||A. Lee, Jen Majura, Tim McCord, Troy McLawhorn and Will Hunt||3:50|
|3.||"The Game is Over"||A. Lee, T. McCord, T. McLawhorn and W. Hunt||4:22|
|4.||"Yeah Right"||A. Lee and Will B. Hunt||3:30|
|5.||"Feeding the Dark"||A. Lee, T. McCord, T. McLawhorn, W. B. Hunt and W. Hunt||4:21|
|6.||"Wasted on You"||A. Lee, T. McCord, J. Majura, W. Hunt and T. McLawhorn||4:24|
|7.||"Better Without You"||A. Lee, J. Majura, Nick Raskulinecz, T. McCord, T. McLawhorn and W. Hunt||4:05|
|8.||"Use My Voice"||A. Lee, J. Majura, T. McCord, T. McLawhorn, W. Hunt and Deena Jakoub||4:02|
|9.||"Take Cover"||A. Lee, T. McCord, T. McLawhorn, W. B. Hunt and W. Hunt||3:14|
|10.||"Far From Heaven"||A. Lee||4:56|
|11.||"Part of Me"||A. Lee, J. Majura, T. McCord, T. McLawhorn and W. Hunt||3:59|
|12.||"Blind Belief"||A. Lee, T. McCord, T. McLawhorn and W. Hunt||4:09|
|Target Exclusive and Japanese Edition bonus tracks|
|13.||"Cruel Summer" (Live From Home)||Sara Dallin, Siobhan Fahey, Keren Woodward, Steve Jolley, Tony Swain||3:23|
|14.||"The Chain" (From "Gears 5")||Lindsey Buckingham, Mick Fleetwood, Christine McVie, John McVie, Stevie Nicks||4:12|
|Japanese Deluxe DVD|
|1.||"The Making of The Bitter Truth"||13:13|
|2.||"The Making of Use My Voice"||2:45|
Deluxe Box Set
A deluxe edition fan box set was released via Evanescence's official webstore. The set includes:
- 2CD Digipack: CD1 "The Bitter Truth" album / CD2, A Live Session from Rock Falcon Studio
- Cassette tape with exclusive audio and music from the making of “The Bitter Truth”
- Journal with personal foreword from Amy and exclusive content
- “Use My Voice” art poster print (300gsm offset paper, 156 x 218mm)
|A Live Session from Rock Falcon Studio|
|1.||"Wasted on You" (Live)||4:24|
|2.||"The Game is Over" (Live)||4:23|
|3.||"The Only One" (Live)||4:32|
|5.||"Going Under" (Live)||3:39|
|6.||"Use My Voice" (Live)||4:01|
|7.||"Bring Me to Life" (Live)||3:30|
|8.||"Lost in Paradise" (Live)||5:05|
|9.||"Glory Box" (Live)||Portishead, Isaac Hayes||3:56|
|10.||"Across the Universe"||John Lennon, Paul McCartney||3:42|
|The Bitter Truth Evolution (Side A)|
|4.||"Will Cant Catch"|
|5.||"Without a Sound"|
|9.||"Smurfs On Fire"|
|15.||"Back to the Future"|
|17.||"On My Own"|
|The Bitter Truth Evolution (Side B)|
|1.||"The Game is Over" (Instrumental)||4:30|
|2.||"Yeah Right" (Instrumental)||3:33|
|3.||"Use My Voice" (Instrumental)||4:08|
|4.||"Better Without You" (Instrumental)||4:07|
|5.||"Wasted on You" (Instrumental)||4:30|
|6.||"Far From Heaven" (Instrumental)||5:02|
|7.||"Blind Belief" (Instrumental)||4:15|
Credits taken from the liner notes of the album booklet.
- Amy Lee – lead vocals, piano, keyboards, additional programming
- Troy McLawhorn – guitar
- Jen Majura – guitar, backing vocals
- Tim McCord – bass
- Will Hunt – drums