Within Temptation is one of the most prominent bands on the symphonic metal scene. Ever since their beginnings in the mid-1990s, they managed to take the music world by storm with an uncompromising blend of cinematic vibes, furious metal tones, and striking gothic symphonies. I don’t think I would be going too far by saying that Within Temptation could be single-handedly responsible for bringing symphonic metal to a much wider audience.
Having said that, it’s easy to see that the excitement surrounding every new release from this band is absolutely palpable. The same goes for their brand new album, “Resist.”
The project had been teased quite some time ago, but a few ups and downs might have slowed down the band’s creative process. Vocalist Sharon Den Adel took some time off to focus on a solo project, as a way to blow some steam of and overcome writer’s block, and it is safe to say that the band didn’t rush the process. They took their time to make sure that the band would be able to release the best possible record, and “Resist” is a prime example of their creative synergy as a unit.
The first thing fans might notice is that “Resist” is a departure from the band’s earlier formula. They didn’t completely shed their skin, but the Dutch group certainly allowed for many more influences to creep in. In addition to their well-documented Gothic-Metal footprint, Within Temptation experimented with pop influences, toying with catchy hooks and polished production aesthetics. Within Temptation has proven that you can write great metal that’s also pop, much like Metallica and even uncompromising legends like Motorhead have accomplished in their respective styles.
The album features inspirational themes and in-depth sonic soundscapes, which really take advantage of the wealth of musicianship within the group. In particular, Sharon Den Adel’s vocals are truly outstanding. The singer sounds as confident as ever and definitely comfortable with the new creative direction the band set out to explore. There is also a broader tonal scope on this release, with orchestral instrumentation, guitars, bass, multiple synth patches, as well as great vocal arrangements that breathe life into the songs.
“Resist” features a total of 10 tracks. I thought the opening song, “The Reckoning,” featuring Jacoby Shaddix is a really cool statement. In one way, I can see how this song is saying “Hey guys, we’re back doing what we do best.” On the other hand, it is also an opportunity to walk the listener through the changes in the band’s sound and creative approach, especially with its incredibly catchy hooks.
There are many fantastic highlights on this release, including the emotionally charged “Holy Ground” and the stunning curtain closer, “Trophy Hunter.” Each track explores a slightly different direction while maintaining a cohesive sound. The production aesthetics of this release are absolutely impeccable. The band sounds like a unity, yet every single instrument and vocal part in the mix is clearly identifiable.
In a band with so many elements and sounds, it’s easy to get lost in the layers, resulting in a blurry mess of tones. This is not the case, thankfully, as Within Temptation are very well-versed in the art of merging various layers, while still retaining clarity and focus at every step of the way.
Sharon’s voice is evocative and emotional, yet impactful and energetic. Unsurprisingly, she is often hailed as one of the most gifted vocalists in metal, and this album adds yet another incredible achievement to the list of great recordings and performances.
This isn’t just another album for the band, but a very important milestone. As the title aptly states, the group set out to resist – Resist pressures and creative indecision, as well as fighting against the many forks in the road that artists have to be faced with from time to time. They could have easily called it quits and focus on other projects, but instead, they actually decided to channel that momentum into something positive and bold. As a result, they came up with a daring album that’s ushering in a new era for the sound of the band – not by forsaking their past, but by building upon it.