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Amy Lee may have intended the title of Synthesis, Evanescence's fourth album, to represent the combination of the organic and artificial -- or how the symphonic merges with the electronic -- but this isn't necessarily a huge leap from her earlier work. From the outset, Evanescence sampled seemingly contradictory styles -- metal, goth, and prog were equal partners on their 2003 debut Fallen -- so this transition to unabashed pomp and circumstance doesn't seem sudden, especially as it's arriving after a long six years. Synthesis also feels familiar because all but three songs (plus a piano solo) are taken from the group's three previous albums, with selections from their eponymous 2011 album taking center stage at five selections. Immediately, it's striking that the onslaught is a natural fit with Amy Lee, whose powerhouse vocals often wrestle the orchestra into submission. Next, the layered, skittering electronic rhythms grab attention, and far from keeping the music in a straitjacket, the precision of the beats help give Synthesis a steel spine, reinforcing the bombast of the band and strings. This successful fusion also amounts to a step forward for Evanescence, as this kind of proudly theatrical arrangement would suit Amy Lee well for years, and that's why Synthesis doesn't feel like a holding pattern: It feels like the start of a new chapter.

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