Evanescence filled a niche few knew existed: the need for operatic goth pop, soul-baring introspection paired with churning metallic guitars. Singer/pianist Amy Lee cut such a figure fronting the group that it was easy to not think of Evanescence as a band, but rather a support group for her songs. After some lineup shifts, however, including the departure of founding member Ben Moody, the band consolidated and remained one of the most popular post-alternative American bands of the 2000s.
Amy Lee met Moody at a youth camp in their native Little Rock, Arkansas in 1994. Lee and Moody worked steadily together, releasing three EPs at the tail end of the '90s, followed by a full-length album called Origin. By this time, the group was called Evanescence, and they signed with Wind-Up Records in 2002, expanding to a full lineup consisting of guitarist John LeCompt, bassist Will Boyd, and drummer Rocky Gray not long after the completion of the band's major-label debut, Fallen. Released in the spring of 2003 and initially marketed toward CCM audiences -- an association the band disavowed rather rapidly -- Fallen quickly proved to be a success thanks to the hit single "Bring Me to Life," which was soon followed by "My Immortal," both reaching the Billboard Top Ten in the U.S. All this success led to two Grammys, one for Best New Artist and one for Best Hard Rock Performance, but a split within the ranks soon emerged, with Ben Moody leaving the group during their European tour.
Terry Balsamo, late of Cold, replaced Moody on guitar and became Amy Lee's main songwriting partner. The fruits of their collaboration would take a while to surface as Evanescence continued to ride the success of Fallen, buying time with Anywhere But Home -- a live album timed for the holiday season of 2004 -- and then suffering a few setbacks in 2005, with Boyd leaving the band and Balsamo suffering a stroke. The group's sophomore set, The Open Door, finally arrived in October of 2006, with Tim McCord -- formerly Revolution Smile's guitarist -- joining on bass after its release. Spearheaded by the single "Call Me When You're Sober," The Open Door didn't quite match the success of Fallen but it performed handsomely, debuting at number one on Billboard the week of its release. During the supporting tour for The Open Door in 2007, LeCompt was fired from the band and Gray quit, with guitarist Troy McLawhorn and drummer Will Hunt hired to take their respective places.
It was another long wait for the group's third album, with the band scrapping sessions helmed by famed producer Steve Lillywhite before hiring Nick Raskulinecz, who wound up producing the eponymous album that appeared in October 2011, a full five years after The Open Door. Like its predecessor, Evanescence debuted at number one on the Billboard charts. A massive tour took up much of 2012 (including stops in North America, Europe, Asia, and South America), after which Lee announced that the band would take an extended break. Evanescence wouldn't return to the stage until 2015, when they played the Japanese offshoot of Ozzfest and a handful of American dates. A brief U.S. tour followed in late 2016, coinciding with the release of a vinyl box set, The Ultimate Collection, which included all of the band's studio albums, even the rare Origin. A newly recorded version of one Origin track, "Even in Death," was featured on the compilation album Lost Whispers, which was issued in early 2017. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine