Within Temptation – The Unforgiving

I didn’t review this album the first time I listened to it because I remember years ago, before the internet and how everything is leaked onto download sites, the anticipation of waiting for an album to come out that you knew was completed but the release date was still weeks away. Of course there is the video release over a month before the album comes out which prompts those not savvy to how the record company’s and bands market the new unreleased album, which, in turn, causes some people to head down to the CD store and attempt to purchase said unrealesed album only to be turned away with confusion on their face muttering that they had just heard the song on the radio or YouTube… (this happened in the store after I got out of the listening area. A young girl, maybe 13 years old, came in looking for a band – Egypt something or other – that she had been hearing on the radio. Low and behold the album’s release date is in May. She had “That Look” on her face).
Anticipation is kewl as hell, but whatever happened to announcing that the song was from “The Forthcoming Album” and its release date?

Onward to my review.

First, I have got to say that this is a highly listenable album. There are small snatches of the old Within Temptation sound, but for the most part, the band has taken a new direction musically mixing a little of the old with alot of the new.
Have I liked every song on each release? No. Even on THoE there was that one song that did nothing for me. The Unfogiving does not have that problem for me as each song has a different feel from the one before it. Some are pop-hard rock/metal sounding and some are a little heavier.
Bottom line… The Unforgiving is the band reinventing itself. You may or may not like it (as with any bands release) especially if you are “redneck” in your musical taste.

The Unforgiving has what little orchestration there is done by keyboard. There is no huge symphony backing the sound. No huge choir either. There is the chant-sounding background vocals for ambiance but it is not as huge as those used on previous releases.
The first notable change is the drumming. It is tried and true rock and roll beats. There is some double-bass kicking on faster songs but they are the exception and not the rule.

01: Why Not Me – A snippet of the intro heard on the vid-clip “Mother Maiden“.

02: Shot In The Dark – This song has good groove. It is a keyboard laden tune with a short guitar lead break and there is the underlying ambiance of gloom to the sound. Sharon‘s vocal style for the tune reminded me of Olivia Newton John.

03: In The Middle Of The Night – This is a rocker. There is a driving rhythm and fast tempo to the song. The loud chorus where Sharon is raising her voice (not quite a yell) fits perfectly with the pace of the song.

04: Faster – If you have not seen the video for this song then go to the bands site on YouTube. http://www.youtube.com/user/wtofficial?feature=artistob
The verse vocals are sang low and throaty, almost smokey sounding. It has another loud chorus after the spinning sound of “faster and faster and faster and faster“. Whenever Within Temptation does a lead break in a song, in my opinion, it makes the song that much better. My first impression of this song is that it would have fit nicely in the 1980’s music scene.
As the first heard release from The Unforgiving, it is definately not the best song on the album and that’s a good thing because the song is good.

05: Fire And Ice – Has a piano driven intro that stays with the song even after it switches to a power ballad with drums, strings, yet no lead break. Very reminiscent of their old sound.

06: Iron – The intro to this song just has a cool sounding riff that leads into another driving rhythm. A good rock song that has Mother Maiden speaking in the lead break sans guitar.

07: Where Is The Edge – Again the tempo of the song slows the album down. One thing you can say about Sharon is she is not afriad to use vocal effects to her advantage. The lead break has both keyboard and guitars playing. This song reminds me of Delain‘s Stay Forever.

08: Sinéad – Wow! Right after the keyboard intro comes techno beats like Armin van Buuren and Sharon Den Adel Falling In And Out Of Love. There is a orchestral keyboard break and lots of hi-hat. I am still wondering if the guitars were ran through a synth. Great song that surprised the hell out of me.

09: Lost – A Spanish inspired acoustic intro and outro. This is a rocking power ballad with a great chorus. The lead break begins acoustic and switches to electric guitar.

10: Murder – Begins with a deperate sounding violin intro that goes on throughout the song. Sharon is again utilizing a vocal affect. Very bass driven song with another loud chorus and an unusual scream/growl sound before the second verse.

11: A Demons Fate – Another violin intro with guitar that reminds me of the intro to Edguy‘s Sacrifice from their Rocket Ride album and Sharon singing high-pitched vowel/notes.
The song is another driving rhythm tune with fast singing and lotsa double bass kicking from the drums. It has a very melodic lead break from the guitars.

12: Stairway To The Skies – The guitars and drums stay in an almost trance-like mode and the instruments have excellent sync with one another. This would be a Gothic sounding song if it wasn’t so damn rock n’ roll. The chorus is long and the lead break is Sharon‘s voice as an instrument (I will touch on this phenomenon in a later review). There is, however, a melodic guitar lead outro.

There it is. I hope I don’t give away too much because you should hear the album for yourself and form your own opinion. It is a great album. Buy the damn thing! Don’t pirate it! This is what the people in the band do for a living. They have bills like the rest of us. I already preordered the edition with DVD included.

As far as conceptual albums go… Much like Queensrÿche‘s Operation: Mindcrime, all the songs together on this album are stronger next to one another than they are seprate. That is not to say they are not good alone, quite the opposite really. What I am saying is in union, they make a strong album where no song is better than the other. Yes, this is one of the most listenable albums I have heard in a long time.

Before I go I need to thank Budget CD’s And DVD’s in Missoula, Montana for allowing me to listen to the album for review and for keeping me up in all the metal music I love. Where the in hell else am I going to get Battlelore, Kiske/Somerville, Within Temptation, Epica, out of print CD’s and  concert DVD’s not released in the United States. You guys FUCKIN” ROCK!