It seems that here in mid 2011 that the female-fronted gothic band's attempt at entering the zeitgeist may well and truly be over. Whether this is due to the fragmentation of audiences or the placing of groups in sometimes specious generic boxes (Epica are symphonic etc) or possibly because of the lack of media outlets willing to play rock music – certainly here in the UK.
What could help to propel Holland's Within Temptation closer to mainstream success than that redoubtable favourite the concept album? A concept album centring around 'Mother Maiden', a medium who recruits dead souls seeking repentance to help her defeat evil, each song was written alongside a comic book by Steven O'Connell (of BloodRayne fame) and illustrated by X-Men graphic artist Ramano Molenaar, to be accompanied by three short films. Sounds like a commercial suicide letter no? This is definitely not the case, for the band has produced their most cohesive and certainly most populist album yet.
The Unforgiving has its roots firmly in the 1980's with slick, arguably cheesy production values and big choruses which lodge in the brain but refuse to go away. The large scale gothic qualities of their previous works are intact but pushed slightly back in the mix but still underpin everything especially on the closing "Stairway to the Skies". The band even introduces solos which isn't something that one normally associates with Within Temptation.
Long term fans may well be disappointed that the beguiling Sharon den Adel draws even further back from the operatic nature of early work but this is the sound of a band evolving confidently and if there was any justice in the world the singles "Sinead" and "Faster" would be great big hits.
I must also mention the packaging on the special edition which is excellent and comes with a dvd and this is the version you should buy.
- Why Not Me
- Shot in the Dark
- In the Middle of the Night
- Fire and Ice
- Where is the Edge
- A Demon's fate
- Stairway to the Skies