Monday, June 22, 2009

(Easier to Spell AND Easier to Get Along With)

Well played, former men of Evanescence, well played!

Whether she'd admit it or not, Amy Lee had to be hoping that her former bandmates would just slither off into the sunset, leaving her to rule over the Evanescence empire uncontested... And for a while there, it seemed her hope might spring eternal.

But that spring has run dry.

Monday's media event announcing the formation of We Are The Fallen was executed with the precision of a Navy S.E.A.L.S. operation: Get in, make a few tactical strikes and get out. There was little room for error, and less concern for collateral damage.

Mission accomplished. Amy Lee may have won the first few battles, but now we know that the war is far from over.

What war? The one that started when Ben Moody walked away from Evanescence mid-tour in 2003, despite the fact that they were the biggest band in mainstream rock at the time, and had one of the best-selling albums since cavemen started banging rocks together and calling it music more than 10,000 years ago.

You've got to figure things must have been seriously awry if Moody was willing to walk away from the band he started with Lee, leaving her the name, as well as the ability to continue making a living singing songs that he was instrumental in writing. Even so, there are two sides to every story...

But which side was lent more credence after the remaining original members of Evanescence, guitarist John LeCompt and drummer Rocky Gray, parted ways with Lee a few years later, leaving the frontwoman with her own befuddled version of Guns N' Roses?

Whether she intended to or not, Lee took a band and turned it into a solo project. While her sophomore release went multi-platinum with ease, it probably made her just as happy to see that her former creative partner, Moody, appeared more comfortable in a production role, opting to stay out of the public spotlight.

Until Monday, that is, when Moody, LeCompt and Gray unveiled We Are The Fallen, "a new chapter of an existing band for three of us..."

Featuring American Idol finalist Carly Smithson on vocals and Marty O'Brien [Tommy Lee, Kelly Clarkson, Disturbed, Static-X] on bass, We Are The Fallen isn't so much a new outfit, as it is an updated lineup. Lest you think the new band plans on ignoring their roots, look no further than the name, a reference to the album title of the Evanescence debut (Fallen), which has sold more than 15 million copies to date.

Still not sold? If Moody's "new chapter of an existing band for three of us" comment during Monday's brief Hollywood, CA, press conference wasn't enough, consider the two-song performance that preceded it, where the band performed new track "Bury Me Alive" (listen here) and the opening track of the Evanescence debut, "Going Under."

The live debut couldn't have been more impressive. "Bury Me Alive" is as strong as anything Moody and his bandmates have written in the past, and if Smithson's performance of "Going Under" is any indication, the back catalog is in more than capable hands. Fans of American Idol (which Moody admitted he's not) already know Smithson's rock pedigree, but many don't know that she covered the Evanescence hit "Bring Me To Life" on the 2008 American Idols Live tour. She was always more rocker than solo artist, and in We Are The Fallen she has the vehicle to give Idol standout Chris Daughtry a run for his money as the show's resident rock icon.

Amy Lee knows that, and the Evanescence frontwoman responded to the news of We Are The Fallen with a website post titled, "Will the real Slim Shady please stand up?" (It appears that she's got a bigger problem with singing music you didn't write, than she does with hiring musicians to play music they didn't write.)

The barbs didn't end there, and aren't likely to end anytime soon.

When Moody was asked in the press conference why he's waited so long to return to the public eye since departing the lineup he co-created more than 15 years ago, he responded in kind: "We wanted to do it right this time..."

And when the band was asked who'd be handling the songwriting duties, LeCompt said that the entire band contributes equally. To which Moody added, "and for once that's actually true."

While the band has already written several songs together, don't expect to see a full-length album in the immediate future. Instead, We Are The Fallen plan on releasing a few songs at a time via the internet, eschewing the battered record industry model while still assuring a steady flow of new material as they tour.

Look for We Are The Fallen on the road this fall.

We Are The Fallen MySpace

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