Released: 2007, Roadrunner Records
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
It’s been a slow, steady climb for Dutch symphonic Goth metal band, Within Temptation, and endless comparisons have dogged the group for years. Since the release of their 1997 debut, ENTER, it has been rare that Within Temptation gets mentioned without bands like Nightwish, Lacuna Coil and, most recently, Evanescence being spoken in the same breath. On Within Temptation’s latest CD, THE HEART OF EVERYTHING, a path begun on 2004’s THE SILENT FORCE continues with bombastic swells, monstrous, hook-filled choruses and above all else, Sharon Den Adel’s powerful vocals resonating overtop of Robert Westerholt’s driving riffs and Martijn Spierenburg’s prominent keyboards and samples. Long gone are the gruff male vocals and slow, depressing songs of ENTER. “Ice Queen” from 2001’s MOTHER EARTH first heard the band exploring more expansive sound elements and the infectious chorus of “Stand My Ground” from THE SILENT FORCE is a major influence on many of the tracks found here. THE HEART OF EVERYTHING sounds ultra-slick and the production values have clearly gone way, way up since the band’s salad days. Daniel Gibson’s technical ear—and Stefan Glaumann’s (Rammstein, Therion, Evergrey, Def Leppard) final mix—give these songs a glossy sheen augmented with multi-tracked vocals, choirs, string sections that sound impossibly huge. The band’s popularity has risen dramatically in Europe and with the signing to Roadrunner Records in North America for the new album, fans on this side of the Atlantic can finally hear what audiences have been enjoying for years across the pond.
The siren-like into of “The Howling” teases the listener into a false sense of tranquility but once the Godzilla-sized orchestral sections (provided by The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra) kick in mixing perfectly with the guitars, the song comes together in a thick wall of sound punctuated by Den Adel’s rich, powerful voice in the chorus. Life of Agony’s Keith Caputo supplies guest vocals on “What Have You Done” and the two singers sound excellent together. Caputo’s shouts and smooth croon juxtapose Den Adel’s operatic turn here creating a diverse blend of vocal styles. “Frozen” and “All I Need,” each of which can best be described as power ballads, focus on Den Adel’s far-reaching voice, taking the listener from a throaty, mature sound on the former to a breathy, almost child-like quality on the latter. Likewise, the title track shows further vocal experimentation by Den Adel as she utilizes a gruffer sound in the verses and a mix of demonic, unintelligible growls and a soaring test of her operatic range in the chorus. “Our Solemn Hour,” arguably the most breathtaking track on the album, is chock full of colossal choral chants that are sure to please the band’s more Gothic-leaning fan contingent. “Hand of Sorrow” and “The Cross” are epic slabs of mid-tempo, symphonic-laced ear candy built upon Den Adel and Westerholt’s dark, Romantic lyrics (“He’s torn between his honor and the true love of his life/He prayed for both but was denied”).
To make an indirect Nightwish comparison, where that band isolated many of its older fans with the heavily-produced ONCE, so Within Temptation may have done with THE HEART OF EVERYTHING. This album is sonically-charged and each and every song could be handed over to radio programmers with certain single potential. It is obvious a great deal of time, effort and money was put into the album and while THE HEART OF EVERYTHING is sure to garner Within Temptation a great number of new fans (along with a short string of North American tour dates with Lacuna Coil), many will turn their backs shouting “sell-out,” as well.
Within Temptation have produced their most ambitious album to date with THE HEART OF EVERYTHING. Musically-rich yet never more commercially-accessible, the songs drip with top-notch production, a million hooks and infectious choruses. The success of “Stand My Ground” (included as a bonus track on the North American release of THE HEART OF EVERYTHING) brought a whole new legion of fans to Within Temptation and that same demographic will be very happy with what the band has delivered here.
KILLER KUTS: “The Howling,” “What Have You Done,” “Frozen,” “Our Solemn Hour,” “The Heart of Everything,” “The Cross,” “All I Need,” “The Truth Beneath The Rose”