After fifteen successful years with the band Evanescence, Amy Lee has had her share of experience in the music industry. Her new solo album, Aftermath, written for the film War Story, displays little of this knowledge. While the music does have its strengths in ambience and atonality, it has its drawbacks as well; in its lack of variation and climax, and being outperformed by other albums.
The only real outlier in the album is the song Lockdown, which is closer to the style of music Amy Lee would be making with Evanescence. It is the only song on the album with a general format or a reoccurring melody. Also, it is the only song written like a traditional rock song, such as having verses, a chorus, and a repeating line reflecting the idea or the title of the song.
The electronic portion of the album was mostly influenced by Middle Eastern music, such as in Dark Water. The few songs that are electronic are relatively uneventful with little variation to the melody or the rhythm. It was a style that was over produced in the early 2000’s and has little market today.
The classically centered half of the album consists of low, ambient, disharmonious cello work which is performed marvelously by the soloist, Dave Eggar. His virtuoso style is really exemplified in the songs such as After and White Out. This was good for the film because it had a lot of dramatic dialogue scenes which needs the background noise to keep the scene progressing and not lose the attention of the viewers. Most of these pieces are also somber and mellow since the movie is serious and needs the darker, dramatic noise to back it up.
Some of the classical tracks of note are Remember to Breathe and After. Both of the pieces follow the strong cello work that is present throughout the album. Remember to Breathe is especially close to the modernist ideas of the early to middle 1900’s by jumping from note to note in a seemingly random style called the twelve-tone system. After is filled with bass chords and an ever-changing melody that is always rising out of the steady stream of notes coming from the lower octave. It is rare to hear bass chords because they often do not come out as clean or as unified as the musician or the composer hopes; however, it does make an excellent background noise to a scene that requires a more depressing mood.
Both of these pieces have something that much of the album was lacking: Climax. Understandably, many of these pieces cannot be overwhelmingly complex or dramatic since they would take away from the film. However, film sound tracks are known for being epic. Whether it be at the great battle of an action movie or the happy ending in a romance, the sound track is what makes the scene memorable. Without a climax, the songs cannot fair well on their own.
This album would not have been as disappointing if there were no other soundtracks or scores that did what this album does better. The electronic music portion was very similar to and largely outclassed by the soundtrack to the video game, Deus Ex. That album is similar in style and tone but each track has a magnitude and climax with it. The film score for Sherlock Holmes was similar to the virtuoso style with the string instruments Amy used, but the soundtrack to Sherlock Holmes is far more memorable.
The only positive thing about this album was its outlier, Lockdown. The ambient, disharmonious cello work, along with the middle eastern influenced electronic music, are generally subpar since there are other albums and songs that can do their job better both in the film, and alone on the soundtrack. All the pieces did present clever approaches and ideas which ultimately had potential but never reached it.
Christian Page is a student from New Mexico who has been studying music since he was nine years old. He has made the state youth orchestra for both the upright bass and classical guitar. He’s been studying poetry for the past year.