Released: 2004, BMG
I’ve been meaning to check out Within Temptation ever since hearing Sharon den Adel’s brief contribution to the Avantasia albums. Her voice didn’t really overwhelm me, it’s just that it sounded so damn sweet and innocent. So I’ve occasionally wondered what that voice would sound like over an entire album and, although this is the band’s third album, THE SILENT FORCE (TSF) represents my first experience with them.
What to say by way of introduction? Well, I’ve read a few things about this band and what I’ve read leads me to believe I should have heard something from them before now. Apparently they’ve had some commercial success in Europe. Judging by the first single and it’s accompanying video, I don’t doubt that for a minute. Somebody at the record label spent a lot of money to make a video like the one for “Stand My Ground” and labels don’t usually spend big bucks unless the band has given them something in the past. Factor in the number of cleavage shots in the video and it becomes obvious that both the band and label are pulling out all the stops to generate record sales. Hey, sex sells and those are a fine set of breastesses, so more power to them. You can check out the video by going to the band’s website.
Commercial pursuits and videos aside, this review should be about the music. On that note, THE SILENT FORCE is an amalgamation of gothic and symphonic metal with contemporary AOR-styled hard rock. The album is very slickly produced, with very plush, very orchestral and very full sounds. The use of strings throughout the album is a nice touch. The songs are polished and have a modern vibe to them, especially with all the electronic sounds and beats used throughout. Considering that Within Temptation features a dual guitar lineup, it’s surprising that TSF is not particularly heavy. There are moments of heaviness, but they’re few and far between. Oh, and if you’re looking for riffs, keep looking. Keyboards also play a part in the mix, but mostly to add atmosphere. As for my burning curiosity regarding Sharon den Adel’s voice ... it’s sometimes gentle and sometimes powerful, but never really mindblowing. Having said that, her voice suits the music well.
It pisses me off to read ignorant and lazy music journalists in the USA casually accuse bands like Lacuna Coil and Nightwish of being Evanescence clones, so I hesitate to make any comparisons here. Like Lacuna Coil and Nightwish, Within Temptation predates Evanescence by several years, which means they can’t really be clones. However, unlike those other bands, Within Temptation actually does sound virtually identical to Evanescence on this album. TSF is slightly heavier and utilizes more orchestral elements, but in the end the band doesn’t feel much different.
You don’t sign to a major record label like BMG unless you’ve got potential to sell a lot of records. The question of whether Within Temptation makes it big commercially or not depends on how much demand there is for a band whose formula differs very little from Evanescence. As for the question of whether metalheads will like THE SILENT FORCE, that will hinge on just how accessible you like your metal to be. I’m afraid most metalheads will find this to be nothing more than ear candy. For those occasions where ear candy suits your mood, TSF makes for a decent listen.
Highlights: Stand My Ground, Forsaken, Aquarius
Genre References: Gothic Metal, Orchestral/Symphonic Metal, Hard Rock