Within Temptation are a band I see as a bit of a guilty pleasure. I admit that albums like “Mother Earth” and “The Silent Force” are pretty much modern metal classics, but their more recent albums did have me wondering about the direction these guys are going in. The bands last album “The Unforgiven” was a mad concept album full of pretty interesting compositions, but at times songs that wouldn't go amiss on Eurovision. So on this album, the band have decided to kind of do something a little different.
Sound wise, the band have named their album “Hydra” in order to describe the multiple styles and genres that the band have covered over their long spanning career. So expect flourishes of older stuff emerging, including gruntal vocals and newer influences. The best way I can describe this album is that it is rather cheesy. But a good type of cheese. It belongs to a genre of music that I like to call fist (a genre made for putting your fist in the air and shaking it...like a polaroid picture).
For the past few years the band seemed to have gained a weird fetish for covering up to date pop songs. Now don't get me wrong, I do like a good metal cover of a pop song now and then, but there is a certain moment whenever hobby becomes obsession. So, surprise surprise there is a bonus disc on the special edition of this album containing a few covers. Now it is obvious that this new found hobby has influenced their sound. At the moment I'm saying it's a positive thing, but familiarity can breed contempt...
The opening track “Let It Burn” has to be one of their best songs in a long time. Powerful and anthemic, it is a perfect opening to the album with some pretty impressive vocals from Sharon.
The album's first single “Dangerous” is definitely a highlight on the album. Featuring vocals from Howard Jones (ex Killswitch Engage), the song is heightened by the combination of powerful male and female vocals. A killer riff throughout and pretty damn catchy too.
One of the album's most controversial moments on the album has to be found on the track “And I Run.” Mixing metal and rap with the help of Xzibit, the song is actually very enjoyable and flows very well with the mixture of 2 styles. To all the 'haters' of this song, don't fret, this has been done before.
The album's second single “Paradise (What About Us)” is another mammoth pop tune, showing off the bands original symphonic style with the help from Tarja (ex Nightwish) on guest vocals. Pretty catchy chorus and some pretty powerful vocals, the song is another powerful pop tune.
One of my persona favourite tracks on the album has to be “Silver Moonlight.” Taking a rather Celtic sounding musical approach and mixing grunts which haven't been heard since their first album, it really is something different for these guys, and a good little departure from the tone of the rest of the album.
One song that I really disliked on this album was “Dog Days.” Very repetitive, very annoying and pretty much a filler generic moment. Luckily this is the only real weak moment on the album.
The album's closing track “Whole World Is Watching” is cheesy as hell...but pretty damn great. Featuring guest vocals from Dave Pirner from from Soul Asylum, this song could easily be a Bon Jovi ballad.. But...Within Temptation bring this song to brilliant cheesy justice.
In conclusion, I have to say that I surprisingly really enjoyed this album. I do admit that the band's change to a more poppier sound does have their songs sounding rather cheesy, but I am a fan of the cheese now and then. For metal purists, this may be a bit too poppy for your liking, but for people like me who dreamed to have been born in the 80's, this is pretty much greatness for me.