It has arrived! Sorry folks, for this late, late review but it still I am writing it … The long awaited, much anticipated new album from Dutch Symphonic Rock Legends Within Temptation called “The Unforgiving”. This album explores new ground, as it is their first full-blown concept album, based around the comic book by Steve O’Connell (BloodRayne & Dark 48). 12-songs and 55-minutes worth of mind blasting music is supplied on “The Unforgiving”.
“The Unforgiving” is the fifth studio album by Dutch symphonic metal/rock and gothic metal/rock band Within Temptation, released by Roadrunner Records from March 25, 2011. The album is released alongside a comic book series and a series of short films, to encompass a concept story. The first single, Faster, was released on January 21, the first short film, Mother Maiden, was released on January 31, the second short film, Sinéad was released on March 21 and the second single with the same name was released on July 15. The first issue of the comic books, Penance, Part One, was released on March 18 and will be digitally released by Diamond Digital at the New York Comic Con on October 22. The second issue, Penance, Part Two was released on May 13 and Penance, Part Three for pre-order on August 31.
The standard edition tracklist:
- “Why Not Me”
- “Shot in the Dark”
- “In the Middle of the Night”
- “Fire and Ice”
- “Where Is the Edge”
- “A Demon’s Fate”
- “Stairway to the Skies”
And there is also the German bonus track, the Polish bonus track, Japanese bonus track and the U.S iTunes Deluxe Edition. The songs are written by Robert Westerholt, Sharon den Adel, Daniel Gibson, Westerholt and Martijn Spierenburg.
“The Unforgiving” welcomes you with Why Not Me, a 34 second intro into which we can listen a fragment of “Mother Maiden” speech with a violin and an orchestra. Which lets you know that the violins shall play a big role and have lots of presence throughout this whole album.
“Shot In The Dark”, the album’s third single, starts off with some choirs, providing a dark atmosphere and giving way to Sharon’s beautiful voice. A big change can be heard in Sharon’s voice in this album, because now it’s stronger unlike that high pitched voice we heard in the previous records. The rhythm of the music is set by the drums from the beginning to the chorus, which is very catchy. A change that anyone can tell about the music is it is more rock’n’roll and innovative, but without giving away the original and peculiar sound.
“In The Middle Of The NIght” is the one of those songs that shows that Within Temptation is moving away from the commercial sound. The song starts with the guitars, a sound that is not typical for the band, giving way to powerful drums and Sharon singing the first notes. There’s no doubt that this song is and will delight the “head-bangers” to bang their heads, as their usual addiction, because it is aheavy and fast song. The chorus is catchy and it will be very hard to sing live, “In the middle of the night, I don’t understand, what’s going on…” Then there is a small instrumental bridge, then the chorus sees a repeat with the same verse. After that one can apprieciate perfectly the strength and power of the guitars, with the touch of something cinematographic, finally we listen to the choir singing softly at first and slightly and gradually going into a more bombastic sound when the guitars, drums and Sharon’s majestic voice fuse. I think that this song will become the favorite of many, and to me; is a classic already.
“Faster”, is the first single, already known by everyone, is a song that shows the change in Within Temptation’s sound. The fusion of rock’n’roll of the 80’s with a powerful guitar throughout.
“Fire and Ice” is one of the first pseudoballads in this album. A very much orchrestral and cinematographic intro starred by the violins giving away sound and solitude to the piano. Sharon sings the first verses with a very sweet and gentle voice that will remind us of the Mother Earth album. Sharon shows her singing skills in this song, and, yes, did I mention that the the chorus is lovely? The song gets heavier as it proceeds after the chorus, more symphony from the violins, drums and orchestra melting into a vibrant atmosphere around your ears, and then ending it with Sharon’s voice singing; “Every word you said, is a lie”
“Iron” will awake you after the soft soothes of the previous tracks; the intro is really fast, it’s the best intro in the entire album, and the guitar is heard with the drums and orchestra. The drums are heard like they have never been heard before in Within Temptation’s songs; the orchestra can be tagged as very “grandiloquent” and “epic”, very few times we have heard it this way. Sharon’s voice sounds great, singing from the high and low pitches very impressive with a lot of strength. The chorus is one of the best in this entire record and you’ll keep humming and signing it, “You can’t live without the fire, is the heat that makes you strong”.
“Where is The Edge” is just like Faster, “i heard it somewhere before” kind of track, a typical song to say in brief.
“Sinead” is one of the most atypical songs by Within Temptation. A second single that will keep everyone talking, because it has a dance side, a dance beat that’s present throughout and perfectly reminds us any song by Roxette or Madonna, gah… The chorus is catchy with some sound effects that show that the band took the risk with this atypical song. After repeats of the chorus the songs a complete turn, giving away one of the most darkest and more gothic instrumental bridges in this album. “Oooh Sinead, for the first time, life is gonna turn around…” The chorus is followed by echo in Sharon’s voice and the songs ends.
“Lost” again returns the calmness and gothic atmosphere to the album, because of the acoustic sound of the guitar. Sharon’s voice in this song is again lovely, and even more when she sings along with the guitar. The chorus should be praised as the bestest one in this album and most sensible fan shall cry when they hear, “She’s lost in the darkness, fading away, I’m still around here, screaming her name … my heart is frozen, losing my mind” After that, the orchestra proceeds with the chorus with an unknown male voice in the background with addition to Sharon’s voice.
The most notable thing about this song is the acoustic guitar solo mixed with an electric guitar, giving away to the chorus. A pseudo-balled Frozen style that will take a teardrop out of you eyes….
“Murder” is absolutely one of the most symphonic songs on this record. An intro with the violins give away to Sharon’s voice, singing more like The Heart Of Everything and Final Destination style; which sounds very much theatrical and intriguing.
“A Demon’s Fate” will make you feel to dance at the very beginning, but as the song proceeds you’ll realize that you’ve been fooled.. Enormous importance shown on the guitars, where the violins also play an important role. The drum sounds prominent throughout the song, a song that catches you from the very beginning and contains one of the highest notes by Sharon in the whole album. A catchy chorus with lots of strength, will make you dance on your feet. And yes you’ll head-bang too throughout the chorus.
The final track of the record, “Stairway To The Skies” , in the intro we hear a piano and the symphonic orchestra, then we hear to a guitar that totally reminds of the one used by Marilyn Manson at the intro of Sweet Dreams. Sharon’s voice will lure you from the beginning, the chorus can be said to be the best vocally speaking, because Sharon sings with that high-pitched voice that is really very peculiar. The orchestra’s presence can be heard more ever than before and will surprise with the Sharon’s voice at the end of the beautiful chorus. At the end, the music slowly fades; silencing every symphony and telling us the end of the album.
“The Unforgiving” is a very diverse album and is a great rock record and perhaps the best fusion of the symphonic and metal that any group has managed so far. As a Rock fan whose first journey into the dark side of the pentatonic was Maiden’s Seventh Son of a Seventh Son this seems the perfect commercial metal release. The Unforgiving is a beautiful, fast, powerful, rocking slab of guitar-driven pomposity and a strong contender for the best rock album of 2011 already. Nightwish, your move. The different styles will be loved by everyone and the fast melodies and rhythm played around. The new drummer with his new drumming has provided this record the strength that was need…
I would rate it a 8.75 or 9.25 out of a possible 10. The record makes you think you are listening to other bands too – a really majestic diversification. As 2011 is coming to an end, I would say The Unforgiven is one of the best records that has been released this year and I hope you’ll hear it (if you haven’t already) and like it.
Happy Listening everyone! \m/