The Open Door - Evanescence

AMY LEE isn't just drawn to melodrama; she thrives on it. Evanescence's dark-angel singer has certainly had her share of turmoil: Guitarist Ben Moody, who co-wrote the band's breakout album, 'Fallen', with Lee, quit only a few months after its release.

Lee's personal life doesn't seem so settled, either.

The hopeful sentiments that buoyed 'Bring Me to Life' have bitten the dust, and Lee now sounds trapped in one long couples-therapy session.

Either she's swearing off her reliance on a certain guy (likely Seether's Shaun Morgan, who recently checked into rehab), explaining why the relationship won't work or hoping (in the tough-love single 'Call Me When You're Sober') that he'll crash and burn and finally learn a lesson.

Four years back, the very thought of goth Christian n-metal with a twist of melancholic Enya sounded downright hellish.

But 'Fallen's' matching of rivet-gun guitar and high-ceilinged hooks to Lee's soft-focus soprano brought something genuinely fresh to the well-worn genre of metal.

Its sound both lulled and body-slammed you at the same time, as if the music was its very own mash-up.

The novelty of that sound may be gone, but Evanescence still know how to make the most of it.

Denser and more scuzzed-up than 'Fallen', 'The Open Door' goes full blast to amp everything up to gloriously epic, over-the-top proportions.

The bone-crushing 'Weight of the World' and the extreme-power-ballad maelstrom 'Lithium' are rare instances of when pop metal actually does justice to both musical genres.

Even the choirs, which sound like they want to shout down Satan, are divinely overheated.

However, Moody's absence does become apparent when the album bogs down in ballads, which centeraround hypersensitive pianos - this mood makes it seem as if Lee is pining more for the return of Lilith Fair than for next year's Ozzfest.

Those songs also tee up the inevitable Lee solo album, especially since Evanescence has become more brand than band.

Subtlety doesn't become Lee; she's best when she lets her band create a sonic apocalypse and then uses her vocal abilities to soar above it all.

Evanescence fans can rest easy knowing 'The Open Door' handily re-creates the sonic storm of the 'Fallen', complete with Lee's gothy wailing and crunchy rock guitars.

This CD is available to buy now from Woolworths.