Posted on February 7, 2010 -
Within Temptation is a band from the Netherlands that has been releasing symphonic metal/rock for over 10 years. Their debut album “Enter” contains the humble beginnings of a band that is now considered a fore-runner in the genre. After listening to “Enter”, it’s easy to see why.
The album successfully combines many different types of musical sounds: male growls, piano solos, guitars, keyboards, and even odd sounds that one wouldn’t expect to be included in such a genre. As such, their songs aren’t predictable in the slightest. There’s always something interesting to be heard on the album, which is not only enjoyable to listen to; but it’s a refreshing break from the generic songs and chords played by other bands, namely mainstream ones. It’s extremely rare, in my opinion; to find an artist that manages to compose songs that are so different from each other in style and tempo, yet still make them sound amazing. Not only that; but each song tells its own story as it unfolds. Most of the songs you can relate to in some way or another.
Both the first and closing tracks, “Restless” and “Candles” combine the melodic vocals of Sharon den Adel with background keyboard/piano melodies, yet making them sound completely the opposite of each other. The combination works perfectly, making both the songs a highlight of the entire album. Of course, male growls are included on “Candles”, contrasting Sharon’s soft voice with a harsher male counterpart (fellow guitarist Robert Westerholt). Yet, somehow it works perfectly with the pace of the song.
The title track “Enter” is also a beautiful song. The keyboard is used a lot during the piece, making it mostly instrumental. The beginning even has a major goth sound with what sounds like a slow violin (they probably used something else, but that’s what it sounds like to me) The beginning of the piece creeps along slowly until the keyboards enter the song creating an exquisite and unconventional catchy tune. The male growling is present once again, but fits with the dark tone of the song leading into the vocals, contrasting the harshness of the song again with a female voice. At over 7 minutes long, the song never gets tiring. That is a feat unto itself.
“Pearls of Light” is an ode to the past, with fantasy elements mixed in wonderfully with the background music. It’s nostalgic in a way, about one’s decisions in life and straying from one’s own identity. The song isn’t as heavy as the others; but the message is strong. It’s a song everyone can relate to. And of course, it’s sung beautifully.
The fourth track “Deep Within” is the only track I couldn’t relate to. It’s the only downer on an already perfect album. All male growls made it hard to understand the song. Secondly, the growling didn’t always work for me.
“Gatekeeper” is another mostly instrumental piece that builds as it goes along. The music is pulsing even though it starts out slow. But WT’s strength lies in the fact that they can lure you into a sense of calm, while building the song up. Soon without realizing it the feelings of anxiety and excitement build-up for the listener. And this is before Robert and Sharon begin to sing in the song.
The following song, “Grace” is a truly haunting piece. It seems to be focused around war and soldiers. A choir is present in the background, adding to the dark feel of the song. Sharon’s voice changes from harsh to light in this song. She manages the transition well adding to it a feel of regret and sadness. “Fallen from grace/help me rise again/Fallen from grace/Help me through.” It’s a song that stuck in my head for a while after listening to it. Another wonderful song.
The final song is instrumental. It’s called “Blooded”. Centered around a specific melody, the song takes off drawing the listener in. Just when you feel you’ve got a handle on the chorus, WT changes things up. While still playing a similar tune, other sounds and melodies are added on top of it. The instrumental song draws everything from fear to suspense forming a picture of the battle taking place.
Overall, “Enter” is a wonderful debut album. I highly recommend it.