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Within Temptation: Mother Earth (remaster)

My introduction to Within Temptation does not come without some back story to it for I remember that I had only been turned on to Nightwish a couple of years earlier and while sitting in the cubicle at one of the gulag's I worked in, I was listening to the freedom that music offered a person from that realm via Yahoo's Music player. When I set the player up to bands I enjoyed, it said "listeners who like Nightwish also like Within Temptation" or something to that effect, and with this being before the days of mass Ipod use or millions of web-based music sites, this was pretty cool. The songs that the Yahoo player started delivering were from Within Temptation's Mother Earth album and I was immediately hooked on the powerful symphonic drive of the group as well as some of the haunting melodies that they blended so well together. Of course, being 2002-2003, finding this album stateside was impossible and now thanks to Roadrunner Records releasing a remastered and expanded edition a larger fan base can finally catch on to them in 2008. Mother Earth is the bands second studio album and probably the best place that a listener can come on board and begin their own appreciation of them based on the overall strength of the material and the fact that the band had moved on from a far darker sound with this album and maintained course since. Opening with its title track "Mother Earth", the release sets the mood in dramatic fashion and while the band crunches and grooves behind her, singer Sharon den Adel simply mesmerizes you. Her voice is fantastic and while she can attain some of the soaring operatic heights she also sings at a normal register and that fact makes the album a little easier to appreciate. The song has remained one of my own favorites since this was the first track that I ever heard from them. Other tracks of note include "Ice Queen", which was apparently the band's first single from the release and "Our Farewell", a ballad that I felt was so good that it should have sent the band to skyrocketing success much faster than history allowed them to achieve. It's a very sad number that finds Sharon being the voice of comfort at someone's apparent time of urgent need and depending on your constitution this one could find you growing a little teary eyed. "Caged" is an epic track that gives us Sharon as the epitome of "hell hath no fury like a woman scorned" and with this one she delivers such anger and passion that one would fear getting in her way. I also found tremendous appeal in "The Promise" and "The Never Ending Story" purely based on the way they were written lyrically and then from the music that was behind the themes. There was a lot of consistency across the album and that made this a pleasure to listen to.

The band features Robert Westerholt (guitars/vocals), Jeroen van Veen (bass), Stephen van Haestregt (drums), Ruud Jolie (guitars), and Martjin Spierenburg (keyboards) along with Sharon and there is a heavy use of symphonic orchestration on top of them which makes a lot of the tracks come off much more powerful and intense. Of course there are many subtleties and slower parts that bring additional mood to the melodies and one can see just how well they use these elements to make their band standout all the more. This is a fast recommendation for any fans of the operatic side of Metal, and for those who lean toward the female fronted groups which are now in a seemingly endless supply, were not much the case when this album originally appeared on the shelves.

There is a booklet included that gives the listener lyrics to the albums compositions and in reading them you will find that their content is very well structured in terms of song-writing. Many of the tunes are mini stories that sing of the good fortune in love as well as the bad. There are also tracks that play off of the theme of the elemental nature of the albums title. As a bonus we are treated to four live tracks and of their number, three of them come from this album. They capture the band in fine fashion and show that what they do on the recording is the same as what they do on the concert stage. There is also a slight extra heaviness to them. While the original album was released in 2000, the live bonus tracks were recorded in Amsterdam at a performance they held in July 2005. Given they had been at this for a few years by the time of their capture it is probably the reason that they sounded so good. Make sure you add this one to your collection now that it is readily available for you to do so.

Track Listing:

  1. Mother Earth
  2. Ice Queen
  3. Our Farewell
  4. Caged
  5. The Promise
  6. Never-Ending Story
  7. Deceiver Of Fools
  8. Intro
  9. Dark Wings
  10. In Perfect Harmony
  11. Deceiver Of Fools (Live)
  12. Caged (Live)
  13. Candles (Live)
  14. Ice Queen (Live)

Added: January 3rd 2009
Reviewer: Ken Pierce
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 3684
Language: english

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