“Hello, remember me?” Amy Lee asks at the top of the first Evanescence album since 2006, and given all that’s happened in pop over the last five years, you can understand her uncertainty. (Lady Gaga’s rock ’n’ roll makeover at the Video Music Awards can’t have helped.) Yet if Lee is a smaller star now than she was during the chart-scaling days of “Bring Me to Life” and “My Immortal,” she hasn’t lost her faith in goth-metal melodrama. This self-titled effort is instantly recognizable as an Evanescence album, with the churning guitars, minor-key strings and densely layered vocals Lee was using before the Euro-house beat colonized American radio.
The result delivers plenty of pain-soaked pleasure: “What You Want” rides its central riff with a bulldozer’s efficiency, while closer “Swimming Home” finds room in Lee’s gloom for a harp. (Scour the album’s liner notes for the identity of her “harp technician.”) And it’s a kick, as always, to hear Lee flex her sense of ice-queen sarcasm in “Made of Stone,” where she tells some hapless doofus, “Speak your mind, like I care.” But “Evanescence” can also feel a little battened-down, as though its steadfast familiarity were an act of resistance against the dance-pop Barbies at the gate. A livelier album seems to lurk inside this one, struggling to sneak past its creator.