|Review: Within Temptation - Mother Earth|
Label: DSFA Records
Year released: 2001
Genre: Symphonic Metal
Review online: April 13, 2003
Reviewed by: Sargon the Terrible
Rated 4.55/5 (91%) (20 Votes)
This is the third release for this fine Dutch band, their second full-length. And itís an excellent disc in every way. I was not much into WTs previous releases ("Enter" and "The Dance") but this one just shines.
For the uninitiated, Within Temptation play a brand of female-fronted, keyboard-heavy power metal not a million miles removed from Nightwish, but much mellower and more atmospheric. They started out much more in the goth realm, with mixed harsh male vocals with Sharon Den Adelís fine contralto. But on "Mother Earth" all the vocals are Sharon, and the band sounds much better for having decided what they want to be.
This is really a class CD, with excellent songwriting and spot-on performances by the band. This is not really a guitar-driven album, but there is enough heaviness here to satisfy. The real meat of the compositions is carried by the keyboards, which are used symphonically to create a lot of mood and flow to the songs. The best tracks: "Mother Earth", "Ice Queen", "Deceiver of Fools" and "Dark Wings" combine atmosphere with heaviness and melody perfectly. Even when the band strays farther into sappy-melodic territory, as on "Never-Ending Story" (which is thankfully unrelated to the movie) or "In Perfect Harmony" the tunes they weave are good enough to keep me interested. Hardcore thrashers will want to stay away, but those fond of Nightwish or Edenbridgeís more pensive moments wonít mind at all. I must call attention to album closer "In Perfect Harmony", itís a fine tune, but stolen almost entirely from Loreena McKennitís "Lady Of Shallot" (Címon guys, did you think nobody would notice?)
The real star of the show here is singer Sharon Den Adel. She has firmed up her vocal approach and takes the center stage here with real confidence and verve. She is not in the least operatic, so those weaned on Tarja or Sabine Edelsbacher may be in for a surprise. She sounds much more akin to Tori Amos crossed with After Foreverís Flor Johanssen. She has a great voice and solid technique, and she puts a lot of soul into her vocals.
I was initially very pleased to get this CD package, as I saw it was done the way I have always said these should be done. It has one CD for the actual album, and a second CD for all the Ďbonusí material. There is a lot of bonus here, too. They crammed a bonus cut, lyrics, band info, behind the scenes footage, several live cuts and a video for their song "The Dance" on the bonus disc. The live cuts are OK, but it must be said Sharon looks ridiculous headbanging in a flowing yellow dress. She looks like Belle from ĎBeauty and the Beastí onstage with a bunch of metalheads. The behind the scenes footage is funny, with a glimpse of Sharonís famous cat. (Cute bugger). And the real prize is the video for "The Dance", which is easily the funniest thing I have ever seen. Itís an animated video, with art and animation so wretched you will be laughing and groaning aloud. It looks like "Vampire Hunter D-Minus" or something. The laugh I got out of it was worth the whole CD right there.
(Pet Peeve flogging begins here) The bad thing about the package is they went to the effort and expense of adding a second CD, presumably so we would not be saddled with the bonus stuff when we just wanted to listen to the damn music, but they put the stupid menu screen on the music CD too! AAAAAAAARRRRGH! So you put in the music disc and you still have to wait for the stupid menu to load and if you click on anything it says ĎInsert other discí How fucking stupid is that? (Here ends pet peeve flogging.)
But all that aside, the actual meat of the CD is the album itself, which is a first-rate example of atmospheric metal. Fans of Nightwish, Edenbridge, After Forever and even Rain Fell Within will find much to enjoy here. Donít let my ribbing the bonus material fool you, I love this CD, and look forward to their next release quite eagerly.
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