Well, this Dutch band, famous for creating songs with a peculiar style known as atmospheric rock will now be my subject in this review. Now I know you may be thinking what atmospheric rock is, basically it’s the harmony between synth pads and orchestra, that when combined creates an amazing instrumental piece which is perfect for people that like rock music but still at the same time, like classical music.
This album is a little different from the previous ones from Within Temptation, starting from the fact that this was the first album after the departure of their previous drummer, which a fan of this band can immediately identify the changes: their style changed a little from atmospheric rock to alternative rock with hints of their base genre, which in my perspective as a fan was a little surprising. I was expecting this album to follow the same genre as the previous ones but at the same time they brought something out of the blue, which made a lot of their fans angry with the change to a more mainstream genre to reach a wider audience. Putting that aside the album’s still a good one. One last thing I want to add is that the deluxe edition brings a comic book which shows us more or like the story behind this album, while listening the songs you notice that each one has a story behind it, something that’s out of the ordinary because normally an album is created getting together a couple of songs that might even not have a thing in common, a genre a story to tell but this one is innovative in a sense that the comic book serves as a backdrop to the album, it’s the main source of the stories featured on those 12 songs.
1- Why not me
This song is the perfect one for introducing an album, starting from the fact that the woman that is narrating gives it a mysterious ring to it and at the same time you can hear the slow violins, not forgetting the orchestra which causes impact. I give it 5 out of 5.
2- Shot in the dark
At start off this track with a soft pad that is perfect to ready the listener for Sharon’s voice together with a background choir that really befits the song. The drums aren’t too loud and the fact that there are very few traces of guitar at the beginning, plus the bass, enhances the classical aspects of the song, which is amazing. In my opinion this song is almost similar to the song which gives the name of their previous album “The Heart Of Everything”. Amazing voice, good instrumental, meaningful lyrics all combined create this perfect melody. Not forgetting the guitar solo, which is so like Ruud, perfect execution making you crave for those guitar solos from the 80’s, early 90’s. I give it 5 out of 5.
3- In the Middle of the Night
The guitar introduces us to Sharon’s voice, excellent use of the orchestra enriching the bands’ sound. In this music we can find some similarities with “The Silent Force”, when we listen to the speedy drums and then, when entering the outro the choir and the guitar are simply marvelous, adding that heavy metal feel to it. I give 5 out of 5.
Guitar, drums and synths rule this song. Better way to start off a song would be hard to get on a Within Temptation album. The piano gives off that hint of H.I.M’s “Join me in Death”, the orchestral work is once again working so well as a background. One of the best in this album. I give 5 out of 5.
5- Fire and Ice
The strings guide you throughout this song giving it a hint of suspense which is perfect for the piano that enters afterwards. Vocally speaking Sharon’s voice never fails to impress but her tone is a bit too high which can be a little difficult to like. When the drums, guitar and bass join the song it turns out pretty great. I give it 4 out of 5.
Yet another heavy rock song where we can see influences of “The Silent Force”, great instrumental with the choir and drums almost giving us an almost encouraging feeling. Once again the guitar solo brings back memories of the 80’s. I give it 5 out of 5.
7-Where is the Edge?
What you might thought would be a sad song isn’t. This is one of the best songs of the album. The vocal work is once again top-notch, giving the heartbeat to the song come the drums followed by the amazing guitar work deliver one hell of a great song. I give it 5 out of 5.
The synth pads and the violins once again create the perfect start of the song and the way that the guitar and bass join the melody is simply great, great riffs, perfect mix between rock and the classical edge brought by the strings. Sharon’s angel-like voice gives the song the perfect touch. I give it 5 out 5.
In my opinion the weakest song of the album, starting from fact that is a ballad and, being very similar to the previous song, almost looks like they took the same instrumental, tweaked a little and then used different lyrics. Putting that aside the guitar solo is great, but it’s the only great thing in this song. I give it 3 out of 5.
Befitting the title: the macabre is set with the starting strings. The vocal enters distorted and the instrumental, especially the choir that has two completely different tones gathered, adds a little more to that feel. Great lyrics and guitar work once again. Give it 5 out of 5.
11- A demon’s fate
The beginning of the song strongly resembles dance music from the 90’s, specially the synth. Then the pad that comes afterwards is just perfect and very innovative of them, you cannot hear it in any previous album of them. This song makes you remember “The Heart Of Everything”. Great instrumental that once again makes you remember the 90’s. I give it 5 out of 5.
12- Stairway To The Skies
The violins in this song will surely make you remember their song “Memories” and the guitar will make you remember the 90’s. This is the song that ends the album and I think it was a great choice, although this song is not their best. I give it 4 out of 5.
Overall we have a good album, although I don’t think that this was their best album to date, instead it was a rather innovative one to add to the band’s catalogue in terms of getting a bit way from their main genre and trying to gather more audience, a more diverse audience is kind of daring and a big gamble for the band since they would risk losing some of the most faithful fans along the way with all those changes. The fact that a comic book influenced this album and that each song has a story picturing the main story featured on the comic is a rather innovative thing by the band. My final rating is 4.5.