"Wake me up inside/Call my name and save me from the dark/Bid by blood to run before I come undone/Save me from the nothing I've become"
— from "Bring Me to Life"

Things sometimes have a way of changing quickly. Christian media, radio, and retail went into Gospel Music Week 2003 this past April praising Evanescence as the latest example of a "roaring lamb" in the mainstream music industry. Days later, most of the same people were disappointed with the Arkansas duo due some quotes from them in an Entertainment Weekly interview, causing many to pull their product from store shelves and their hit single "Bring Me to Life" from their radio playlists. Even we at ChristianityToday.com ended up removing our positive review of Evanescence's national debut, Fallen. Our praise of their artistry remains, but not without some reservations.

Evanescence is one of the latest artist signings and success stories on Wind–Up Records, home to the similarly controversial Creed. At the core of the band is multi–instrumentalist/songwriter Ben Moody and lead vocalist Amy Lee. The two met as teens, gradually developing a band and a following in the underground Christian music scene.

More than a few have described Evanescence as P.O.D. and Nine Inch Nails if they were fronted by Sarah McLachlan or Enya. As crazy as that sounds, it's a pretty apt description of the band's unique and effective blend of punchy hard rock, angst–driven electronica, and haunting ethereal pop. Thanks in part to high–profile soundtrack placement in the film Daredevil, "Bring Me to Life" became a smash hit single, propelling Fallen into the top ten of industry album sales.

Then after two months, the bombshell hit. In an April 15, 2003 interview with Entertainment Weekly, Evanescence emphatically declared they aren't a Christian band. According to Amy Lee, "There are people hell–bent on the idea that we're a Christian band in disguise, and that we have some secret message … We have no spiritual affiliation with this music. It's simply about life experience." Unfortunately, Ben and Amy used profanity to communicate their request to be removed from Christian bookstores and radio stations. The industry quickly complied.

Evanescence attributes their outspoken spirituality in earlier songs and interviews to "youthful indiscretions," though they seem to be handling their newfound success with even more immaturity. After all, it was Wind–Up's decision (with the band's permission) to shop their music to Christian audiences via radio and retail, not the other way around. Of course, most record labels keep tabs on what is said by their artist in an interview, so it's not as if they didn't have a chance to halt or question Evanescence's comments. Perhaps strangest of all is Moody's assertion that there is nothing Christian or faith–based about Evanescence's music: "I'm not ashamed of my spiritual beliefs, but I in no way incorporate them into this band."

That last quote, combined with the band's outspoken past, suggests that Moody still has some sort of relationship with Christ. But it seems to contradict the numerous songs on Fallen that are clearly derived from a spiritual worldview. "Bring Me to Life," as excerpted above, reads as a solid plea for spiritual revival. On the Psalm–like "Tourniquet," Amy sings, "My God, my tourniquet/Return to me salvation … Am I too lost to be saved?" She later adds, "My wounds cry for the grave/My soul cries for deliverance," which could perhaps be interpreted as the contrast between death under the law and life under redemption as outlined in the book of Romans. Ben and Amy seem to communicate a life slowly conforming to the image of Christ in "Taking Over Me": "I believe in you/I'll give up everything just to find you/I look in the mirror and see your face if I look deep enough/So many things inside that are just like you are taking over."

Not that all of Evanescence's songs are spiritually themed, or even neutral towards Christianity for that matter. With all that the band has said in recent interviews, one wonders if "Everybody's Fool" is an indictment of the church and the Christian faith: "Perfect by nature, icons of self–indulgence/Just what we all need/More lies about a world that never was and never will be … You're not real and you can't save me." In a May 20, 2003 interview with USA Today, Amy issued a flimsy apology and explanation for their comments in Entertainment Weekly: "We certainly don't want to alienate anybody. If anybody picks up our CD and listens to it and likes it, we love them … So I just hope this whole thing hasn't made anyone think that we're against any particular group or anything. That's the whole point–that it's for everyone. We don't want to put it in a box."

Bands such as Lifehouse and P.O.D. have successfully broadened their audiences into the mainstream without alienating their Christian fan base. Evanescence's mistake was to cut their ties with the Christian community too suddenly and severely. Yet despite the mixed messages, there's enough on Fallen for Christians to savor and appreciate, whether such lyrics are intentional on Ben Moody's part or not. However, because of recent interviews, unsuspecting Christians easily offended by profanity should perhaps steer clear of Evanescence's concerts since there's no telling what they will or won't say. We can only hope that this talented duo will eventually figure out what they're trying to convey thematically, and we can only pray that such a message will once again involve the Gospel.

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Unless specified clearly, we are not implying whether this artist is or is not a Christian. The views expressed are simply the author's. For a more complete description of our Glimpses of God articles, click here.