We Are the Fallen chose to debut new songs Tuesday night in a tiny London, England, student union before barely 200 people, the vast majority of them male, comfortably over 30, and as fond of leather and tattoos as they are of extended axe solos.
You may remember that We Are the Fallen is made up of the original members of multi-platinum Arkansas goth rockers Evanescence, minus singer and co-songwriter Amy Lee, who split with her bandmates over creative differences and continued Evanescence with new players. Carly Smithson, a 2008 American Idol finalist, fronts We Are the Fallen.
Other than the addition of Smithson, We Are the Fallen seems to be continuing business pretty much as usual. Their signature sound retains its industrial strength, Smithson has comparable lung power to Lee (and just as much black hair dye), and founding guitarist, co-songwriter Ben Moody still looks like he hunts elk. With his bare hands.
Heavy as Evanescence ever were, We Are The Fallen betray an unswerving approach to songwriting, the very same that made "Bring Me To Life" such a monster hit single for the original band in 2003.
Each of the new songs they played from their upcoming album Tear The World Down were riven with inner turmoil, and dispatched with great lumbering guitar riffs that battled Smithson's vocals for volume supremacy.
But Smithson, essentially a post-apocalyptic Cher, mostly refused to be overshadowed by mere instrumentation. So she screamed and she hollered and she whipped her hair around with abandon.
The band's first single, "Bury Me Alive," was a long torrent of howling cries that become gradually muffled amid squalling feedback. And even the sensitive power ballad "I Am The Only One," which opened with the sound of violin, was delivered with blunt aggression.
The quintet showed some levity while performing two covers: Iron Maiden's "Flight Of Icarus" was done with thrilling economy, and Madonna's "Like A Prayer" was so successfully pulverized that one wondered whether it wasn't written specifically to become the world's greatest heavy rock anthem.
Precisely nothing about We Are The Fallen relies upon either subtlety or nuance. Their music, albeit full of the maelstrom that necessarily defines the gothic genre, is avowedly muscular and relentlessly unpretty.
And while it was difficult not to admire the tireless vigor of their performance, by the end of the closing banshee wail of "Tear The World Down," it was also difficult not to be exhausted by the sheer brute force of it all.