The Silent Force – Within Temptation (2004)

I enter the void of the complete unknown as I try to review this album that was put to me as a request when I asked the question “what should I review next”.

I know little about opera or metal music so when these two merge together it just confused my tiny little mind but alas I have listened and will give a review a go.

‘Within Temptation” are Dutch symphonic metal band and “The Silent Force” is the bands third studio album with the lead vocals coming from singer Sharon Den Adel. It is her vocals that carry an album which for me at times can be difficult to distinguish between tracks.

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After a dramatic symphonic opening which feels like the start of the X Factor we go into a the first full track “See Who I Am”. The drama of the instrumentation is as big as you can possibly imagine for the opening 25 seconds as the song settles down for the clear and crisp vocal of Den Adel.

Lyrically the song is a little confusing as the verses talk about not losing what we have in life but the pre chorus tells us an admission that we have been dreaming though this is the best way of living.

Whilst I am confused at what the song is about my confusion is met further with the final lyric “This is not the end” as the song ends immediately after.

“Jillian (I’d Give My Heart)” takes a long time to get going but then bursts into a symphonic hurricane. The guitars are more prominent than we had heard on the previous track and this takes a form more so of just a heavier rock song.

But like the previous track it is asking the listening a lot of questions and making a lot of statements. Delving into the background of the track it is based on a novel series by an author by the name of Katherine Nerr. Sadly this just alienates me more as I haven’t got a clue about the perspective I am meant to understand from a character I have no idea about.

It ain’t no Wuthering Heights!

“Stand My Ground” again starts off in gentle fashion and then bursts into life. Lyrically it doesn’t really come away from what we have heard thus far with lots of questions about life and relationships being asked and defiant statements about standing your ground and being true to yourself.

Vocally the range Den Adel reaches is wonderful but the instrumentation is dull. There is a bass player but I can barely hear him with the production being all a bit too slick which I realise is a factor in creating this epic gothic like structure the band are trying to create but it takes away any edge from the music.

“Pale” begins with a Celtic vibe with Den Adel again putting in a stellar vocal display. This song is atmospheric and and mesmerizing. Melodically I am still not convinced but this is the first moment of listening to Within Temptation that I can connect slightly with the track.

But it does fall down lyrically once again as the chorus just goes over the same subject that we have heard before. This time we are saying that we have to stand up and be strong and that we have to fight. So far we have had four full tracks but essentially we are talking about the same subject.

Messy lyrics do not really get any better on track 6 “Forsaken” with the chorus telling us that we are forsaken and that our time as come. The song is clearly apocalyptic but I never get the sense of desolation which surely the song is mean to transfer to the listener when talking about such a desperate subject. If Sharon Den Adel was singing to me as the world was ending I don’t think I’d mind too much.

Den Adel shows off her vocal range on “Angels” with use of her upper register. The song like all of the tracks takes a while to get going. The verses are little mundane but the chorus is lively and catchy. I would think it it was the most pop orientated song on the album and one of the better tracks.

I like it’s haunting nature and the lyrics are little more direct with it simply being about someone who has broken her heart. The production lends itself to the lyrical content creating this ethereal cocktail of pain and torment.

“Memories” is pretty but so similar to what we have heard before I am struggling to get to grips with a song that really just fades into the background.

“Aquarius” follows suit as it drifts away with the same formula now becoming tired. The chunky guitars seem to lose their connection from the actual melody of the track as Den Adel wails about needing Aquarius. I restarted this song twice as I was intent on finding some merit to this track but the whole this is just too much for me to handle.

It’s void of any soul and seems like a cold song to me.

“It’s The Fear” is the penultimate track. It is at this point where I has a suspicion that the band decided to say titles of songs and just write songs based around that title because I feel that even without listening to the song I could have well wrote very similar lyrics.

Fear, dark, horror doom. That is what this song is about. And whilst Den Adel possesses a great voice I hear no fear or doom within in it. The production is so crisp that this song is anything but fearful. Some of the musicianship on this track is great I think the drums sound excellent but again I can’t hear the bass despite it being there.

The first lyrics of the last song “Somewhere” are ‘lost in the darkness’. So I know I am in for a dramatic and perhaps a melancholy end. Den Adel sings again with a pained inflection about someone who has left her but is unaware now. She needs to find them so that the truth of what has happened can free her soul.

 

My review of this album is ultimately pointless as I have no connection to any of the music on offer. I have found that the album sounds pretty much like the same song or perhaps a soundtrack to a movie that is changing it’s scenes but not it’s themes.

The vocal from Sharon Den Adel is undeniably big and bold but there is a coldness that I cannot seem to shake. The lyrics are so similar that when you listen to the album in one sitting then the songs do not have much individual meaning. Perhaps taken out as separate tracks there is a better enjoyment that can be had.

 

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