An EP by Within Temptation carries more substance within it than most bands’s full-length albums; “The Dance” is a deep and lush mini-album that fuses the epic feel and invigorating nature of power metal, the massive grandeur of symphonic doom metal a la Morgion or Orphanage, and the rich beauty of atmospheric metal like Nightsky Bequest and The Gathering. Some have complained that some of the elements used – the choir effects, the alternating female and male vocals, etc. have been used a lot in recent years. I’d respectfully counter that elements like guitar solos and drums have been used a lot for decades and decades; the fact remains that having them doesn’t automatically make a band unoriginal. Within Temptation is one of the freshest and most original bands to emerge in the last decade; there are no sound-alikes to the group that I know of. The closest comparison to the material on “The Dance” might be The Gathering with their awesome “Mandylion” and “Nighttime Birds” albums, but the two sounds are only about as close a reference point as, say, Judas Priest to Iron Maiden to Accept – similar in ways but certainly not clones.
The soft-to-crushingly heavy guitars, the innovative keyboard effects, the powerful bass and the varied drumming are all outstanding, as are the ‘growled/savage’ male vocals of Robert Westerholt (which in Within Temptation actually fit in exceptionally well with the music they’re playing, which isn’t always the case with female-fronted symphonic/atmospheric metal of this kind). The star performer though has to be lead singer Sharon den Adel, whose emotive vocals soar with the power of a majestic falcon and the graceful beauty of an angel. Exceptionally well put-together songs – a tribute to the art of musical and lyrical composition – with melodies and words that make lasting impacts. Everything I’ve heard from Within Temptation is excellent and “The Dance” is no exception; may the mammoth success they’re enjoying in Europe soon be replicated in North America and the rest of the world.