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Another 'Door' Opens for Amy Lee

There's no shortage of soaring, dynamic rockers on "The Open Door," including "Sweet Sacrifice," "Weight of the World," "Snow White Queen" and "Lacrymosa," based on the "Lacrimosa" passage from Mozart's "Requiem."

"I never thought! Everyone asked about a collaboration, me and Mozart," Lee jokes about the composer she fell in love with at age 9 when she saw "Amadeus." Lee calls "Lacrimosa" (Latin for "to weep") her favorite piece of music, and she gave it a dramatic prog-rock makeover, recording it in a chapel with a 22-piece orchestra and the Millennium Choir.

"I just wanted to create and do something different and branch out," she says of the new album. "At the heart of it I know it's still Evanescence and it's still me, but structurally it's a lot more fun. We went a lot of different ways with it instead of constantly sticking to the same structure and the same pop formula. I think it's more mature and more brave all around; it's like the instruments actually go together, the piano and guitar and vocals, since they're written together -- they intertwine. It's definitely even more personal. At least for me, because I was there, it sounds more fun because I was having so much more fun."

Lee was probably in a lot less of a hurry to do a follow-up than her label might have wished. Part of the delay, obviously, was external drama, part of it her own perfectionist tendencies. Lee also insisted on letting the creative process take its course, including 18 months spent developing a new creative partnership with Balsamo; they share credit on nine of the album's 13 songs.

According to Lee, "Terry didn't have his stroke until we were already in the studio, so the actual writing process would have taken that long anyway. I really wanted to spend every second I needed, with no time limits, to make an amazing record, no matter what."

There was another bump to give Balsamo more time to recover from his stroke.

"I feel it's really important to have Terry with me on tour," Lee explains. "So much of his heart went into this record, and I don't think it would be right to go without him. We hadn't played together since the stroke, and a few weeks ago we had our first rehearsal and it was an amazing feeling.

"Terry's playing, and it's really cool to see. He is still recovering every day, but [guitarist] John [LeCompt] and Terry have worked it out as to who's going to play what and what's going to be the best for Terry. I feel like it's just another thing that's making us closer as a band and act more like a band, which is people that really rely on each other on stage and in life."

The album's first single, "Call Me When You're Sober," was supported by a video in which a Big Bad Wolf tries to seduce Lee as Little Red Rocking Hood. The video may be allusive, but the song itself is a literal snapshot of one's frustration of dealing with the addiction of someone they love -- someone Lee had not named in the song or in interviews. However, the song's inspiration became obvious the day the single was released, as Lee's ex-boyfriend Morgan announced he was postponing a Seether tour and going into rehab. (Morgan is apparently none too happy "our dirty laundry had to be aired all over the world," telling a British journalist, "I wouldn't do that to somebody.")

"Obviously that was going to have people talking, but it's really about so much more than the most obvious thing," Lee says. "I really love that song, and what I love about it is that I know it's very unspecific. I wanted it to be the first single, but at the same time, it's like, wow, why did I do this to myself and cause all of this gossip? It's just I had to be true to the music. There's a few songs on the record where I felt, well, I could hide in metaphor and I could do the safe thing and not put it on the record this way, but I didn't censor myself at all," she says. Plus, "I really needed to get out of the whole space of negativity, and I did, and that song is so empowering to me because it's me leaving a whole world behind that was really hurting me."

That's what makes the album's end song, "Good Enough," such a different creature.

"It's a happy song," Lee points out. The other songs are characteristically "Evanescent" -- dark, aggressive, creepy (her word) -- and Lee admits the point she's making by placing "Good Enough" at the end of the album is that it marks a new beginning.

"You've got it, exactly. That song -- the last one I wrote for the record -- is definitely the most representative of me now, the way that I feel. If we're talking about the 'new me,' that's it and why it's at the end of the record. You have to go through those things and make the changes you have to make and be there and go, 'Okay, I did it.' It doesn't come that easy.

"I just didn't hold back this time, and writing that way has made me feel really purified, like I've actually gotten a chance to break through instead of just wallowing in all of my problems. It's not about all the times that I've been afraid and tormented and sad, it's about looking at those situations and stomping them out. It feels really good to sing these songs now."

Evanescence Appearing Wednesday at the 9:30 club Sounds like: Amy Lee fronting any group of musicians is going to sound like Evanescence -- dark, stormy, anguished, seeking both release and transcendence.

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