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Album Review: Within Temptation – Hydra

2 min read

Coming from what some might call a niche genre, Within Temptation has definitely held its ground as one of the most relevant symphonic metal bands in the world. Forming all the way back in 1996, with Enter as their debut album in ’97 through the label DFSA, 17 years has passed and the Dutch band is still going strong, putting as much gusto in their music as they always have.

Within Temptation - HydraHydra is the band’s sixth studio album, already represented by it’s first single Paradise (What About Us?) featuring ex Nightwish singer Tarja. It’s addictive vocals and killer guitar lick is only a taster for what’s really in store.

Compared to their earlier works, it does feel like Hydra has taken things down a notch, but nevertheless guitarist and songwriter Robert Westerholt says, ‘Hydra is a perfect title for our new album, because like the monster itself, the record represents the many different sides of our music…it’s the most powerful album we’ve ever made, and it has some amazing and totally unexpected collaborations.’

Whether it’s the diversity of the album, or just the natural progression of metal acts going as hard as they can until there’s no other choice but take a step down, it doesn’t make the music less magical than what it is. Sharon den Adel’s bewitching vocals can definitely vouch for that, taking centre stage in the track Edge Of The World. The subtle instrumentation is barely noticeable in the introduction as Adel’s vocals soar through intricate melodies. By the time the clashing of the drums and hammering guitars catch up, the vocals feel embedded in your mind.

Tell Me Why on the other hand seems to give the violinists a rest as the guitars lead the string section with its roaring, fast-paced riffs. Being one of the heavier tracks of the album, it’s exactly what Westerholt said with the album representing all sides of Within Temptation. The band wouldn’t be the same without it’s metal influences, and this song feels like an homage to them.

And those mentioned ‘unexpected’ collaborations can be pinpointed to American hip-hop artist Xzibit who raps a few verses in the song And We Run. If you’ve ever wondered how good high-pitched violins, heaving guitar riffs, piano solos and a duet between a delicate vocalist and hard-core rapper would sound like, this would probably the best it could be. As unconventional as it sounds, Within Temptation is a symphonic metal band. They’re as unconventional as unconventional gets. And it totally pays off. Other collaborators include former Killswitch Engage vocalist Howard Jones in Dangerous and Dave Pirner of Soul Asylum accompanying Adel in the last track Whole World Is Watching.

The 10-track album has been in the making since 2012, and is now ready to take over the world. Showing no signs of stopping Within Temptation’s Hydra is a great addition to their legacy.