Review by David Araneda
Artist: WITHIN TEMPTATION
Label: Spinefarm Records
Release Date: 1st February 2019
1. The Reckoning
2. Endless War
3. Raise Your Banner
5. Holy Ground
6. In Vain
8. Mad World
9. Mercy Mirror
10. Trophy Hunter
After a five-year hiatus, the Dutch masters of symphonic rock WITHIN TEMPTATION have released a new studio album entitled “Resist” via Spinefarm Records. During this long recess, the leader and vocalist Sharon den Adel had to struggle with a series of personal problems, in addition to a musical identity crisis that affected the whole band. Some fans even feared the worst with rumors of disbanding surrounding the birth of den Adel’s side project My Indigo and the release of their debut album last year. In her solo effort Sharon got a lot closer to electronic/alternative pop, very far from the symphonic influences of her main band, sowing doubt on the future of WITHIN TEMPTATION.
But luckily for their fans, the band announced last year that they were working on the long-awaited follow-up to “Hydra” (2014), starting also a European tour and confirming their presence in big summer festivals during 2019. Den Adel commented that for this new release the band would take influences from modern music but also incorporate darker elements to it. After the release of no less than four singles we would soon realize that this darkness would be reflected mainly in the themes and overall atmosphere of the music. Considering the commercial musical direction of their last couple of records, we were certainly not expecting them to make a U-turn and go back to their metal roots.
The album starts with ‘The Reckoning’, first single released last September with a futuristic videoclip. As it’s been the tendency of their last record, “Resist” also features some famous guest singers, and this time it was the turn of Jacoby Shaddix (PAPA ROACH). The sound of the song is dominated by heavy keyboard arrangements, giving it a modern touch. Sharon and Jacoby’s vocals merge nicely in a catchy, epic and melodic chorus. ‘Endless War’ is a bit of an odd-ball experiment, combining pop elements with operatic vocals, symphonic orchestrations and hip-hop vibes. It’s like NIGHTWISH and Rihanna had a kid.
‘Raise Your Banner’ comes back to the more traditional style of the band. The guest of honor is Anders Fridén, best known for his work as the frontman of Swedish band IN FLAMES. Anders’ mix of clean and harsh vocals adds more colors to the song and the chorus has a battle hymn feeling that sticks with you from the first listen. With ‘Supernova’ they get closer to a more electronic pop sound influenced by bands like MUSE. The keyboard work by Martijn Spierenburg keeps dominating the general atmosphere of the record, with playful rhythms and contagious melodies that contrast with gloomy lyrics.
In ‘Holy Ground’ they experiment again with electronic sounds and Sharon’s phrasing has a rap feeling to it at times. In this case the lyrics are a bit infantile, reminding a bit me the likes of Avril Lavigne. ‘In Vain’, another song released as a single, brings back the promised darkness into the album and is executed with mastery. The structure and melody of this song helps to make it stand out and become of the more addictive tunes in the record. In ‘Fireflight’ they make a turn towards R&B, with the contribution of Jasper Steverlinck’s guest vocals. This is one of the record’s finest duets, since their voices blend in perfectly.
‘Mad World’ is my personal favorite of the album, with an irresistible sound for someone nostalgic with 80’s pop. It is a song full of energy and even the toughest metalhead wouldn’t resist its groovy dance feeling. With ‘Mercy Mirror’ they go back to a modern radio-friendly pop sound, but which becomes a bit too predictable and repetitive. The album finishes in great style with ‘Trophy Hunter’, a heavier and more guitar-oriented song, putting the omnipresent keyboards aside for a while. Sharon’s work is impeccable here, with a catchy and effective vocal line, showing all her potential as one of the greatest female voices in rock nowadays.
To sum up, “Resist” is an entertaining and dynamic album, mixing in a superb way elements that range from symphonic rock to electronic pop. With this release, WITHIN TEMPTATION marks a complete transition from their early metal sound into one that is more accessible for a mainstream audience. Before the release of this album the band had performed half of the songs live, showing how confident they were on the quality of the material. Sharon’s voice and Spierenburg’s keyboard work remain as the most distinctive components of this unstoppable sound machine, which has managed to erase any possible questions regarding their continuity and relevance.
WITHIN TEMPTATION – “Resist” videos