Monday, April 11, 2011
The First of Many Album Review: Within Temptation and "The Unforgiving"
I feel so torn by Within Temptation. On the one hand, they have an awesome vocalist, so gripping riffs, and pleasing hooks. On the other hand, they feel a bit like "pop-metal." The type of music, if they ever found it, teenage girls would listen to before telling all their friends they are "into metal." A guilty pleasure, one might say. Well, that pleasure continues with The Unforgiving.
First, a word about the band. Within Temptation, if you're not familiar with them, is a Dutch symphonic metal band. They sport a female vocalist who is quite talented and really the centerpiece of the band. They are frequently compared to Nightwish, but not nearly as "epic" or "classical" in their sound. Within Temptation uses riffs and hooks to go along with some cool guitar solos and imagery involving heaven, hell, angels, demons, nature, and other things that remind me of the Lord of the Rings. They've released four pretty decent albums so far, this being their fifth.
This album is by far the most cohesive of Within Temptation's albums. It took them three years to release and they have done a ton of promotion for it. Making these short films, releasing a line of comics, and really working on the production values of the album. The song quality is fairly consistent and I don't get the feeling that any of it was intended as filler.
The Unforgiving feels like a concept album and all of the videos reflect that. There are underlying themes of righteous killing and anti-heroism. I don't really love all of this, but it's nice to make it cohesive.
At it's heart, however, there are just some great songs on here. Vocalist Sharon den Adel beautifully sings a ballad like "Fire and Ice" at one point, while the band is in full metal mode on a well-written song like "Demon's Fate" at another point. When listening to this album, I never feel the need to skip through tracks, except maybe for the single I posted above "Faster." The songs are simply just very well-written and tightly performed. The band and Sharon den Adel feed off of each other. You can tell this is a band that had been together a long time and the singing and the music just meld into each other.
As for the negatives, there aren't a whole lot. Most of the songs are good, some very good. However, there are no great, incredible songs. Former albums normally had at least one or two songs that you knew you were going to love forever. I don't feel any of those here. But, maybe this is made up for in the consistent quality of the album as a whole.
Watch the video and listen to the single, "Faster." However, keep in mind that this is probably the cheesiest (and crappiest) song on the album. I understand labels like to release the most accessible songs as singles, but take it with a grain of salt. It doesn't reflect all of Within Temptation's full range and talent.
Overall, worth checking out.