Within Temptation - Resist

Within Temptation Resist cover
Within Temptation
Universal Music Germany / Spinefarm Records
Out of all the female fronted bands, Within Temptation has been the more revolutionary and interesting. Unlike other ones (including everyone from Nightwish to Epica and the myriads of other clones and variations on the goth/symphonic template), Within Temptation who began life as a gothic metal band with classical influences, quickly graduated to a more orchestrated and buoyant and plethoric symphonic style that they refined during the 00s and then as the 10s took hold – in the past three releases “Resist” inclusive, they’ve gone for a more modern and all-encompassing style of almost cinematic proportions, that includes symphonic touches, urban soundscapes, rock elements and is always accented by Sharon Den Adel’s passionate vocals, which defy genre categorization. She uses multiple styles, from operatic to gothic, to pop, to whatever each part seems to require, versatile enough to pull it all off.
With the band hardly changing membership over the years (mostly drummers have come and gone) and the main songwriting partnership based on her and Robert Westerholt (her partner and band’s guitarist) endeavors, the band has been blessed with a level of stability that few other bands in the genre have been able to maintain and this is something that allows the band to concentrate on its music. Yet, as she was trying to compose for the album that ended up being “Resist”, the frontlady did seem to suffer from writer’s block, which led to delays. Trying to maintain her creativity, she attempted to write, but the resulting compositions didn’t quite come out as she expected them. She did end up using them to release a “solo” project, entitled “My Indigo”. That seemingly allowed her to express herself in a different more minimalist format and when see resumed her efforts to compose for Within Temptation, it all seemed to go swimmingly. Weirdly for an album of 10 compositions, 6 of them have been released in close succession of “singles”.
First and foremost, the album’s opener “The Reckoning”, a boisterous, anthemic tune with some eerie keyboard fanfares, heralding it’s chorus was released, with the singer from Papa Roach guesting on some mellow rap part. It’s a quite dynamic and contemporary sounding song that captures WT at the pinnacle of their game.
“Endless War” keeps the electronic elements and modern sound, but has a more traditional approach in the vocal department, despite them being often flooded by choirs and electronics or ridden with effects. It’s instantly likable, but so far it hasn’t been released as a “single”.
“Raise Your Banner” however has been released as the second single, accompanied by an impressive video. It also features heavily Anders Friden (the vocalist from In Flames) in harsh vocals. It’s a big, passionate post-symphonic epic, that seems to transcend many genres in its duration in a way that sounds not only effortless but also rather organic.
“Supernova” is blessed with a very nice chorus, but I did find the amount of effects on the vocals a little overwhelming on this simpler – poppier tune. Too compressed.
“Holy Ground” continues the aural trend, but feels a lot more rhythmical, going back and forth with elements the band keeps using for the entirety of the album. By the way, this feels like a lose concept, about how society seems to be changed not only by technology, but mostly by how that is implemented in the hands of those with the power to implement it. It deals with the loss of identity and homogenization and seems to take a critical stance towards those phenomena.
“In Vain” is very poppy, but without breaking away from the albums aural signature and it’s pleasant melodies and chorus, made it one of the singles – the fourth one, in fact, to be released.
“Firelight”, that follows it, preceded it as a single, but while I like it’s stripped down sound and the whole duet that’s going on between SdA and Flemish singer Jasper Steverlinck; I think it veers on for a while without being able to provide some proper closure – thus giving up after a while.
“Mad World” is the latest “single” release by the band and it’s another pretty rhythmical number with a huge focus on vocal melodies that seem to carry it forward.
Listening to “Mercy Mirror”, I was taken aback a bit. Not in a bad way, just surprised. It’s the closest thing to a ballad on the album, the quietest song, if you will, with a louder chorus… and it sounds like your modern pop song… (pick your favorite pop artist here) only with better vocals and far more orchestration, than it…
“Trophy Hunter” closes the album, being consistent with the sound of the album, but with a far more “human” and dramatic singing style, making it even more likable than most of the rest of the material on the album. It again criticizes the whole overtly competitive mentality that’s been encouraged in the past few decades as dehumanizing and thus unacceptable.
I’d call this album a great example of sophisticated female fronted post-symphonic, poppy power metal… but I think the style is such a hybrid that defies categorizations and labels. It’s on the same level as the band’s most recent releases, without aping them, which is a great achievement. I could do with some less processing on the vocals, but when it comes to a singer such as Sharon, who’s still in top vocal form, it’s evident that the heavy processing is done as part of the album’s aural identity and not as a means to try and hide performance imperfections. I guess most Within Temptation fans will enjoy it and since a lot of people seem to have reacted quite positively to the numerous singles that came out by this point – I wouldn’t be surprised if they did.