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Within Temptation - The Heart of Everything

Label: Roadrunner Records
Format: CD
Released: 2007
Reviewed By: The Goat

Every so often a band comes along and destroys or defies expectations. In this case, Within Temptation has left me shuddering and in awe. Besides enjoying the most extreme metal, I truly dig metal bands with female vocalists. I think the contrast is, when done well, a unique feature of these bands. Okay, okay, I am also a sucker for a good female voice. Yet, this contrast is also female fronted bands downfall at times. I mean, take Lacuna Coil. While not one of the longest running bands of this style, they are notably one of the best and have managed to make themselves into an almost household name (a metal household mind you).


Now, behold Within Temptation. According to their website, WT was formed in 1996. Sharon den Adel (vocals) and Robert Westerholt (guitars) are the founders of the band. They have maintained this 'gothic' doomish sound since WT's inception and sadly it is only now that they get a formal release on our shores. I mention all this because the comparisons will be inevitable with younger bands, namely Evanescence, and WT may not receive the full attention they most assuredly deserve. Admittedly, I am guilty of this as well. This release is making me regret taking only a passing interest in the phenomenal Dutch band.

From start to finish, "The Heart of Everything" strikes where Nightwish left off but with less drama and less operatic vocals. Ms. den Adel's vocals do not really sound like anyone else's out there. No, this is not entirely true. If you are familiar with the pop opera star Sarah Brightman, you'll hear some similarities but only ever so slightly. Ms. den Adel's voice is closer to some of the women songwriter's voices than her metal contemporaries' voices. This quality makes WT stand above the other bands out there. It is a subtle maturity that is only hinted at, not overstated.

The production on this album is flawless. The musicianship is top notch. It is bombastic and catchy. The single that was released is so evidently the strongest "worthy-to-be-a-single" song imaginable, 'What have You Done'. It is also an incredible duet featuring Life of Agony's Keith Caputo. This pairing destroys the Evanescence duet song. Caputo's voice is gritty and lush which contrasts wonderfully with den Adel's angelic vocals. This is just one example of how good this album is and how deceptive this debut release is for those unfamiliar with WT.

I don't want to ruin the surprise by deconstructing the album too much. As if my mere words could ever be a substitute for the real thing - I am not so arrogant to believe this is even possible. Needless to say, this is the album to hear. This will demonstrate something those "in the know" know about the younger, seeming "to catch all the attention before their elders do" bands - they have a long way to go to fully master the delicate skill of the craft that a band like Within Temptation seems to do so easily on their 'first' try.

Trust me when I say, "The Heart of Everything" delivers on its promise. Don't pass this one up.

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