Written by James Christopher Sheppard

Following the large amount of attention that my previous short review of the new Within Temptation album received, I decided to write a longer, more comprehensive review, now that I have the album in my grasp.

Within Temptation: In Profile

Dutch band, Within Temptation, have been labeled many things since forming in 1996- gothic metal, symphonic rock, gothic rock; I would say they are flying somewhere between all three. First album, 1997’s Enter, was doom metal and featured a sound far removed from the sound of the band today. 2001’s release, Mother Earth, featured the beginnings of what has become Within Temptation’s signature sound, establishing them at the forefront of female fronted, accessible although heavy, symphonic rock with a metal edge. Both subsequent albums The Silent Force and The Heart of Everything solidified their status and ability to get musically stronger with each release.

The Unforgiving

Within Temptation’s brand new and fifth studio album and first concept album, brings a whole new aspect to the band’s sound. Featuring harder, almost industrial beats, strings, more emphasis on thrashing guitars than on previous releases and lyrics sang from a new narrative perspective to tie in with the comic concept, this is the freshest album the band have ever put out. Here’s how each track weighs up.

1. Why Not Me

A short intro to the album, featuring the voice of, presumably, Mother Maiden, as featured in the Faster music video. ‘Someone has to take a stand against evil. Why should it not be me?’ she asks, against progressive strings. The intro sets us up for the intriguing dark hero perspective with which we are about to engage.

2. Shot in the Dark

A progressive upbeat track, with strings and a haunting intro, turning into a demanding synth and guitar filled track. This could be released as a single as it certainly easily stands shoulder to shoulder with the quality and catchiness of first single Faster.

3. In the Middle of the Night

One of the heaviest and most thrashing tracks released by Sharon and co over the past decade. Goose-bump inducing perfection soars with every chord, lyric and beat. One of the best songs Within Temptation have ever recorded, it takes their sound to brilliant new heights and shows their harsher side to full effect.

4. Faster

All out synth-tinged single, Faster, feels like it’s the love-child of the hair metal rock of the 80s and Within Temptation’s heavy symphonic 2011 sound. The album version blows the radio edit out of the water, featuring an awesome guitar solo and a more progressive feel, which only adds to the track.

5. Fire and Ice

First slow moment on the album, Fire and Ice, shows the strength and richness of Sharon’s voice. A pro at pouring emotion into both her lyrics and singing, this showcases Sharon’s vocal power intensely. Despite the slower feel to this track, it remains epic and in-keeping with the rest of the album. Unlike past slower tracks, such as Forgiven, this track is given the full-blown epic instrumental effect- and it works.

6. Iron

Like In the Middle of the Night, this track further demonstrates Within Temptation’s ever-improving heavy darkness. Any fears that this album would be too commercial or pop, will be dismissed by the time you reach this track. A chanting chorus ‘You can’t live without the fire, it’s the heat that makes you strong’ is blasted by Sharon over undeniably brilliant symphonic rock at it’s heaviest best.

7. Where is the Edge

Continuing the album with Where is the Edge, this is the first track that is neither thrashing around nor slowed down. Still benefiting from the solid production featured on the whole album, this is the only track that, while being pretty good, doesn’t push the sound we are familiar with from Within Temptation. Still worth a listen though.

8. Sinead

Unlike any other Within Temptation track, the beat that dominates the pace of Sinead is pretty much an industrial beat. A fresh sound for the band- it seems to greatly compliment the song.

9. Lost

The second slower moment features some of the most despairing vocals we have heard from Sharon. ‘Help me I’m buried alive’ she cries- as I’m sure we all would if we were buried alive. Furthering the epic ballad sound established on the band’s earlier releases, notably Frozen, the slower tracks here feel fresher than ever, perhaps due to the concept nature of this album, and therefore the innovative lyrics.

10. Murder

The magnitude of chanting voices behind Sharon on this track lifts it’s haunting, gothic feel to a dark epic effect. Frantic strings progress into a brooding, symphonic track. Intense.

11. A Demon’s Fate

Fast paced track, A Demon’s Fate, would be well received to a wider audience than the typical Within Temptation listener. Accessible, yet heavy and symphonic, this is comparable to the best tracks from Nightwish’s remarkable Once album, like Dark Chest of Wonders, for example.

12. Stairway to the Skies

The final track is one of the album’s highlights. With an opening that recalls Marilyn Manson’s haunting version of Sweet Dreams, it swiftly moves into epic ballad territory, but features far more intricacy than previous slower Within Temptation tracks. Soft and brooding and longing, this is a triumph for the band, as it progresses naturally and spine-tinglingly into a truly beautiful song. The best track on the album, along with In the Middle of the Night.

Verdict

The Unforgiving is not only the best album that Within Temptation have released so far, but this is the best album I have heard in a very long time. Astounding and outstanding. Now we just have to wait until November, when the band’s rescheduled UK gigs will take place.

Back-catalogue to check out

Ice Queen Mother Earth Running Up That Hill Stand My Ground Angles Frozen All I Need

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Comments
  1. […] Within Temptation ‘The Unforgiving’ full album review […]

  2. Eafiu says:

    Shot in the Dark was already chosen to be the third single. ;D

    Great review!

  3. amo todos os albums mais esse é o melhor que eu ja ouvi

  4. aftermath says:

    This is easily their best work to date. I didn’t feel very passionate about them up to this point, one way or the other, but this album has that something that was lacking before.

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