Within Temptation – The Unforgiving
A bit of a back story here: I only ever decided to give The Netherlands’ Within Temptation a listen because of vocalist Sharon den Adel’s lone verse in Avantasia’s “Farewell” from The Metal Opera Part I. I found her voice to be irresistible, and got the songs “Ice Queen” and “Mother Earth” from their then-current release Mother Earth. I was rather unimpressed with pretty much their entire catalog, other than a select few songs. So why the hell did I bother to check out The Unforgiving? Who knows, but I’m glad I did!
For starters, the intro piece is as great a narrative as the Olive Garden is a fine Italian restaurant. However, it’s only 30 seconds of something Stephanie Meyer would consider poorly written dialog, then the album kicks into “Shot In The Dark.” It’s a solid mid-tempo opener with a super-catchy chorus (a trend that runs through the entire album…is the the power metal version of Bon Jovi’s Slippery When Wet?).
Next is the best song on the album, “In The Middle Of The Night,” a great crunchy, up-tempo rocker with some greats riffs and more of Sharon’s amazing vocals. “Faster” is actually not even close, but like the majority of the album, it’s mid-paced pop metal with a great sing-along chorus. “Fire And Iced” and “Lost” are solid ballads, and sit nicely in the track listing. “Murder” is the heaviest song on the album, and while not bad, just doesn’t fit with the rest.
As a whole, everything about The Unforgiving is solid, catchy, sing-along, fun symphonic rock/metal (where does one draw the line between rock and metal nowadays?). The main element are Sharon’s vocals (check out “A Demon’s Fate” for the best vocals here). The guitars are purely a rhythm instrument; the keyboards are the main source of the instrumental melodies. Drums are your typical four-on-the-floor beats with occasional double bass thrown in, but nothing noteworthy. This isn’t technical prog, it’s pop-metal, so instrumental prowess isn’t everything!
Every song other than “Where Is The Edge” (the weakest song here) and the ballads have the feel of “single material,” and unlike the rest of Within Temptation’s catalog, is totally catchy and infectious with melodies choruses that make “The Final Countdown” sound like an Arnold Schoenberg composition. The highlights being “In The Middle Of The Night,” “A Demon’s Fate,” “Iron,” and “Sinéad;” the latter being the closest thing to dance metal can be without being either a parody or something akin to Heavydance. So, if you want something to get your girlfriend into metal, but don’t want to scare her to death with Dark Angel or Slayer, start slow and give her this instead! It’s a hell of a fun ride, and if you’re not singing along halfway through the first chorus of a song, you need to put down the ambient black metal and smile a bit more.
Kylie’s rating: 4.5 out of 5