Within Temptation “The Unforgiving,” Review:

When one envisions Within Temptation, one thinks of onstage pyrotechs, poufy dresses, operatic vocals, and bombastic music. Within Temptation has always been the iconic symbol for both the symphonic metal genre and female fronted metal genre. Anyone with exposure to this genre knows of this band’s existence and their importance within the obscure world of European, symphonic metal.
David Grohl, lead singer of Foo Figters summed up his feelings about the band this way: “Wow this is a trip; this music is pretty wild.”
Within Temptation has always had a versatile sound. With each new album, they are open to experimenting with their sound. With their newest album “The Unforigivng,” they are unforgiving about taking radical directions with their newest album.
“With this album, we felt the time was there to take a new step in our creative development, to take it further and broaden our horizon.” Said Sharon Den Adel, lead singer of Within Temptation.
Indeed, this newest album is certainly a daring move on Within Temptation’s part. Their past albums mainly have focused on providing filmic music that would suit the soundtrack of either Mission Impossible or Lord of the Rings.
With “The Unforgiving,” they are moving beyond ethereal, fantasy-esque music and focusing instead on creating gritty, 80’s inspired rock music. Along with this music, they tapped Steve O’Connell, comic book writer of BloodRayne, to provide the main narrative that in part inspired the music for this album.
In many ways, using a comic book story to provide a concept for their album is not wildly unexpected for this band. Their music has always been inspired by films and novels that greatly inspirit members of the band.
Some fans will be expectantly wary of the sound and even presentation of the album. In nearly all the music videos, Sharon has been stripped of her decadent dresses. Instead, she dons the attire of a bad- ass rock chick who seems unafraid of facing the stigmas that are still attached to female metal vocalists overall.
This perseverance and fierce determination propels the music at sonic speed. From the beginning of their first track “Shot in the Dark,” the character of the song is stymied by the unexpected death of someone close by an unknown nemesis. There is a subtle foreboding tone that is expressed through the staccato guitar notes. While Sharon’s cautious vocals exemplify the initial shock of this tragic turn of events. It seems that the “Shot in the Dark,” was the unpredicted tragedy that brings about the eventual start of her struggle and the overriding intensity of the album.
Preceding this first track are two tracks that mirror different reactions to this sudden turn of events. “In the Middle of the Night,” begins the unceasing momentum of the album. Throughout the song, we are thrust into the desperation of the character’s feelings. With this death, the character needs vengeance above all else to appease herself.  
The theme of vengeance has been recurrent in Within Temptation’s music. Both “In the Middle of the Night,” and “Faster,” work cooperatively to express the character’s unwillingness to be squelched by painful emotions. She will work tirelessly to bring forth justice in this unjust world of hers. In Faster, Sharon seems to scoff at the ineptitude of her status of victimhood within their past song “Caged,” by belting “I can’t live in a fairytale of lies.”  Relating well with the album’s title “The Unforgiving,” the character in this song has no reservations about being an assertive female especially when the lack of justice in the world demands it.
Nearly all the songs of the album seem to symbolically reflect the necessity for women in the world to emphasize their strength. By having the music take a departure from the saccharine sounds of “The Silent Force,”   to a far more darker and violent sound: Sharon seems to imply that female metal vocalists are not purely soprano vocalists. Additionally, a large, decorative princess gown is not a requisite part of Within Temptation’s sound.
As per usual, Within Temptation’s sound has been focused on creating an ephemeral sound that detaches us from the world. In this album, we are not only jerked from the world and seduced by Within Temptation’s epic sound. We are thrust into a universe where women do not need to constantly fit prescribed roles. Within their sound, Sharon does not need to maintain a high lilt to her voice to lull us into her sound. Instead, she can sing lower notes and still express a wealth of emotion.
At the end of their album, “Stairway to the Skies,” seems to express the character’s acceptance of death and the ambiguity of the existence of a higher power. Yet the song also speaks of the band’s artistic aspirations and their desire to rise above the confines of the labels of gothic metal, symphonic metal, or female fronted metal.
For Within Temptation, their sound is primarily focused on being a musical escape from the doldrums of genre music.   Effectively, this album maintains their high mark of quality while completely recreating the atmosphere of this sound.
Fantastically, the guitar sounds are far more pronounced. This helps in showcasing the talent of the formerly silent, retreating guitar sounds of “Silent Force.” Additionally, Sharon proves that she had a wide vocal range by powerfully singing in a lower range.
Often throughout the music, the band does pay homage to the fan’s strict expectations. There are subliminal traces of both Sharon’s soprano vocals and the Gregorian choir. For the most part, the band instead focuses on evolving and differentiating their sound.
In the end, they succeed by releasing one of their best albums thus far in their career. Every song is both distinct and important to the theme of this album. Moreover, this album definitely piques the interest of new fans since the album offer a new musical experience.
Above all, I cannot wait to attend their concert to hear these finely crafted songs being performed live. Both “Iron,” and “In the Middle of the Night,” will be great songs to stir excitement among crowds at rock festivals.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s