Within Temptation
The Unforgiving

2011, Sony GmBH
Gothic

I Within Temptation vanno veloci, veloci, veloci, veloci...
Review by Fabio Rigamonti - Publish on: 25/03/11

Translation by Alessandra Leoni and Rachele Leoni

 

Four years have passed since the last album made by the Dutch band Within Temptation “The Heart Of Everything”; it was a record that showed the pleasantness of being a refined version of “The Silent Force” in opposition to the haste of having a sound evolution from the Dutch band – and an extra dose of inspiration as well – to put forward with the next record. Otherwise: the loss of  reliability, boredom, and the disappointment after a long waiting for a band – and we need to repeat that – that has almost reached 15 years of career, and it isn’t an unimportant detail at all if we also consider the success that got bigger and bigger. Well, “The Unforgiving” is here, in our hands, and it’s time to find out if Within Temptation has still something significant to say to all of us. Take my hand, let’s begin!

 

WHY SHOULD IT NOT BE ME?

 

The first change that surrounds this fifth studio album (sixth if you also consider the EP “The Dance”) is the fact that is a concept album. However I don’t want to talk about the story of assassins who look for assassins lead by the charismatic Mother Maiden, basically because the plot in “The Unforgiving” will develop in all its power in a comic book that will be published during this year; what I need to repeat is the incapacity of telling the story starting from this record: Sharon Den Adel, as a matter of fact, shows to be very able in writing the lyrics, yet far from the wish to  tell us something about the characters through their actions or fulsome descriptions (these elements really debase the artistic quality of a concept album), and prefers to outline states of mind, thoughts that take over actions and the feelings that these actions cause. Speaking about the lyrics, the result is that this album shows lyrics that can describe effectively our everyday life; still, we’re talking about characters who are not ordinary, and don’t even have or do anything ordinary. It’s not an original ability for the Dutch sextet: they have shown this feature (in “Hand of Sorrow”, “Jillian”, “The Truth Beneath The Rose”: songs that have a literary or cinematic inspiration where is very hard to get the source of inspiration), but I am glad to see it in this 55 minutes record.

AND I GO FASTER AND FASTER AND FASTER AND FASTER…


Quoting a line that is already a hit for current Within Temptation, it helps me to introduce to you the main feature in the entire work: the speed.
And if you think I’m referring to the speed in terms of power of the sound or number of the beats on the bass drum, you’re wrong: sure, I’m aware that in this record you can find two of the heaviest songs created by the band (the pressing riff and absolutely NWOBHM of “In The Middle Of The Night” and also the  Hollywood power metal sounds of “Iron” – without the showiness  that belongs to those who created this genre), but that’s not the speed I’m talking about. The pop-synth influence typical of the 80’s is heavy in the melodic patterns that compose the songs, and the result of this original influence makes the songs lighter and more direct: in a few words, they can reach our hearts faster and they go down to our kidneys and they push us from there.

So, here we fly high on the majestic and perfect progression of “Sinèad”, on the tough mid-tempo of “Shot In The Dark” (these are two milestones that will stay forever in Within Temptation career), on the lively bridge of  “Demon’s Soul”, or, why not, on the first single “Faster”, whose assonance  with some melodies that belong to the sound pattern that belongs to Ville Valo and Friends made the nastiest people give the nickname of “WithiM Temptation” to slur this sound evolution of the band.

Orchestra and choirs, typical of the female fronted (metal) gothic band, are in this work as well, arrangements mostly, but the general impression is that they could avoid them in all the songs a part from the ballads that are elements that remind us the old “Within Temptation” (among all, I would say that we need to remember the choir of grief that leads Sharon Den Adel to her majestic interpretation – authentically desperate – in “Lost” and the stentorian rhythm that rule the epic conclusion of “Stairway To The Skies”)
.

We verified that there’s a musical change in “The Unforgiving” (it’s functional and not bright: the 80’s have been used too much in these last few years), but what about the inspiration? Let’s talk turkey: the songwriting is full of ups and downs, and it has always been the weak point of the band, and it’s the only feature that carries on keeping them far from creating a new masterpiece.

Unfortunately, even in this case there’s a “Murder” where Sharon does her best to convince us that is a good track for intentions and testing, but still too weak in the end; there’s also “Where Is The Edge”, inevitably spoilt by a refrain that has no power (while the verse is exciting and excellent thanks to the simple and hypnotic guitars of Ruud Jolie), and “Fire And Ice” as well: despite all the upheaval in the development, the ending can’t avoid some sugary elements typical of these kind of songs by Within Temptation.
However, the high melodic level doesn’t make the imperfections weight too much on the final result of this record that has the only fault in the artwork, too far from our imaginary we have for Within Temptation. For this reason it’s quite clashing at a glance.

A lava flow of notes, that’s what will be waiting for you in “The Unforgiving”, and although a bittersweet aftertaste remains for not having developed the interesting electronic influence, you can’t but praise the bravery of a mainstream band (and that’s what Within Temptation is) that decided to put itself on the line after 15 years of career.
The waiting was not that in vain, and there’s nothing better than ending this review by saying:

I'm telling you, You will like it, I know (I Know, I know, I know!)





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