It seems like a minor miracle that Evanescence released their second album at all, given the behind-the-scenes toil and trouble that surrounded the aftermath of their 2003 debut, Fallen, turning into an unexpected blockbuster. Actually, so much drama followed Evanescence that it's hardly the same band anymore. Certainly, pivotal songwriter/guitarist Ben Moody is no longer with the band, leaving not long after Fallen had become an international success, and sometime after that, they lost their bassist -- leaving behind Amy Lee as the indisputable leader of the band. She always was the face, voice, and spirit of the band anyway -- dominating so that it often seemed that she was named Evanescence and not fronting a band called that -- but by the time the group finally released their long-awaited second album, The Open Door, in October 2006, there was no question that it was her band, and she has learned well from the success of Fallen. Pushed to the background are the Tori-isms that constituted a good chunk of the debut -- they're saved for the brooding affirmation of a closer, "Good Enough," and the churning "Lithium," which most certainly is not a cover of Nirvana's classic (that song never mentioned its title, this repeats it incessantly) -- and in their place is the epic gothic rock (not quite the same thing as goth rock, mind you) that made Lee rock's leading witchy woman of the new millennium. And she doesn't hesitate to dig into the turmoil surrounding the band, since this truly is all about her -- she may artfully avoid the ugliness surrounding the lawsuit against her manager, whom she's alleged of sexual harassment, but she takes a few swipes against Moody, while hitting her semi-famous ex, Shaun Morgan of Seether, directly with "Call Me When You're Sober," as blunt a dismissal as they come. To hear her tell it, she not only doesn't need anybody, she's better on her own. Yet artists aren't always the best judge of their own work, and Lee could use somebody to help sculpt her sound into songs, the way she did when Moody was around. Not that she's flailing about necessarily -- "Call Me When You're Sober" not only has structure, it has hooks and momentum -- but far too often, The Open Door is a muddle of affections. Sonically, however, it captures the Evanescence mythos better and more consistently than the first album -- after all, Lee now has no apologies of being the thinking man's nu-metal chick, now that she's a star.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine