Ah, Holland. The country where it’s legal for an adult to sleep with a 12 to 16-year old provided the kiddo “consents”. Not quite as “liberal” with giving the world quality music though, is it? I mean – Golden Earring and Shocking Blue? Last time I checked, they hardly constituted a page in the almanac of earth-shattering musical makers of the 20th Century (even if the latter’s Love Buzz – as covered by Nirvana – was a bit funky).
Which leads us to Within Temptation. They’re Dutch, they’re not earth-shaking either, but then again they may just be the best band that Tulip-Land has ever produced.
Should you care? Well, yes, at least yes if you ever had a penchant for the louder side of British ethereal-ists All About Eve, or you’ve been inadvertently swept up by the zeitgeist (or should that be tijdgeest?) and secretly love goth-tinged, female-fronted heavy rock groups such as Evanescence and Nightwish.
Like Nightwish, plenty of people in Continental Europe do care about Within Temptation, with a continual stream of Number One singles, gold and platinum albums. There the similarity ends, however, for Within Temptation’s sound is neither as emphatically cinematic or as old skool metal as that of their Finnish counterparts.
In contrast, with its guitars highly compressed in the mix and more conventional song structures than on previous efforts, The Silent Force does sound like a band making a blatant stab for the territory currently occupied by Amy Lee and her revolving cast of extras.
For four songs it works too, with the Intro, See Who I Am, Jillian and big Euro-single Stand My Ground having their already well-formed pop-metal vibes superbly enhanced by an 80-piece orchestra and the simply epic strains of a Muscovite choir. Melodramatic? You betcha, but even The Sisters Of Mercy never sounded this gothic.
And then… Well, it’s as if Within Temptation lost their courage. Pale may demonstrate yet again what a great voice Sharon den Adel has but it’s no My Immortal, while its cheesy intro makes it sound like it’s going to turn into that execrable Titanic song by Celine Dion. Unfortunately it doesn’t stray half as far away from the French-Canadian songstress as it should either…
Forsaken, Angels and Memories float past fairly anonymously, before the punchier, beefier and downright cooler Aquarius reminds us of the glories of the first 20 minutes. Alas, It’s The Fear and Somewhere are pedestrian ways to finish, although us Brits who are receiving this album nine months after it was first released have the luck of two altogether more rocking bonus tracks. Why didn’t these conclude the original album? I think we should be told…
All in all then, The Silent Force is a mixed affair – at turns merely competent, yet at others strikingly, gothically grand. I’d suggest finding a friend to buy it with and then, yes, going Dutch with the bill.