Definitely NOT style over substance.
Within Temptation – Paradise (What About Us?)
It doesn’t take much to excite some femme-metal fans. The mere hint that there might be some tits on any member of a band is enough to make them drag their long suffering girlfriend to stand at the back of a gig while they stand at the front and perv on someone half their age. I’ve genuinely seen people do this with bands that are completely shit, we’re talking “daddy-bought me a band because I cried” shit, we’re talking “Commander in Chief” shit (if you need a laugh, check them out). I think that this really affects the femme-metal scene by raising the bands opinion of their musical ability, when really the only actual thing getting them noticed is some cleavage. Thus, there are 100 shit bands that think they are great, for every one that actually is.
So, if the hint of another Within Temptation album isn’t enough to get them excited, the idea of “Sharon den Adel” (vocals) and “Tarja Turunen” (ex nightwish) doing a duet is probably too much for some to take. It’s excellent marketing and pants are damp across the pervy old man world.
Ok, let’s get serious. In mainland Europe, musical talent is considerably more important than tits and all my above comments are based on the UK scene. From Holland Within Temptation can boast over 15 years of writing, touring and playing together, they’ve released some fantastic albums and done some amazing live shows. They are by no means a shit band as I described above (although they are probably the inspiration for some) and they really are symphonic metal at its finest.
One of the things that Within Temptation seem to do well, is doing things for their fans. They might be marketing tricks, but either way, people love it. So releasing Paradise (What about us?) as an EP featuring one track plus 3 demo’s is a sure-fire way to get people hyped up for the album coming out in early 2014. Having Tarja sing on it too is another great marketing point and Sharon has made a point of posting about how well they get on and how much they enjoy working together etc… Which I don’t doubt is contesting for space in some guy’s imaginations right next to Britney and Madonna. Sorry I’m digressing again.
In terms of sound, this EP has everything that I’d expect from Within Temptation right down to the synth strings, drum sounds and guitar tone. The vocals are spot on as usual and the whole thing is mega tight, demonstrating their skill at using a fairly simple format and relatively similar progressions, but still keep it interesting. The speed of each track is pretty standard, just quick enough to create energy and head banging.
The single track Paradise (What about us?) is the best produced of the 4 tracks, but that much is fore-warned by the band as the other 3 are demo’s. Paradise has everything that a top-notch Within Temptation track needs: The synth intro, the awesome yet simple guitar riff for the verse and chorus and the shit load of synth in the background throughout which makes the sound huge. Both vocalists are tight, right in tune and the vocals are blended together really well and there is no battling for supremacy between them, every part is there with perfection. The lyrics are pretty good too, I recently learned that Within Temptation have someone on board to check all the English in their lyrics and it makes a hell of a difference to some of the other bands I’ve been sent to review from Europe. There’s a great break down of the chorus in the middle too.
Onto the demo’s, Let Us Burn has a strange intro, but great chorus and the nice use of a piano in the verses. Silver Moonlight is a lot ballsier in terms of speed and power with some chorus double kick in the chorus. Unfortunately the male vocal sounds crap on the demo version. You can liken it to me after 7 pints trying to hail a taxi. It’s got potential for the album, but needs some work. Finally Dog Days has an epic intro, it’s almost a shame that it doesn’t progress intro a full on ballad. This is the least polished of all the tracks and I’m not a huge fan of the chorus, but once it’s polished it might be a lot better.
Overall, it really does sound like the next album is going to be very similar in style to their last one “The Unforgiven”, but that’s not really a bad thing. I think there’s huge potential for the demo tracks and once again the band show just how damn good they are and how they’ve earned their place in metal history.