Within Temptation
The Unforgiving


4.0
excellent

Review

by Trey Spencer STAFF
March 25th, 2011 | 100 replies


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: What would happen if Within Temptation ever stopped focusing on overblown pomp and started creating songs that showcased the entire band? The answer is the best album of their career, The Unforgiving.

When "Shot in the Dark" opened The Unforgiving with a computerized dance beat and it didn't sound campy or overdone, it was obvious that this was going to be a departure for the band. You see, Within Temptation are known for being a bit over-the-top with their music and for not always knowing when enough is enough. When they decided to add a folk element to Mother Earth back in 2000, they went with the most cheese-tastic fairy/fantasy style of folk that they possibly could. Moving forward a few years, the band decided to drop the folk and pick up a symphonic Evanescence approach – a decision that saw them drowning everything in this new influence to the point that the orchestral elements dominated everything. Going with the old saying, "If the horse is already dead, why not kick it again," the band released a second album that basically mimicked its predecessor but with even more tunnel vision and less entertainment value. Basically, The Unforgiving had the potential to be another exercise in campy, yet enjoyable, excess. Instead, it turned out to be the most musically adventurous album in their discography; an album that finally proves that the band never needed to hide behind a wall of keyboards.

That last statement actually reveals the biggest reason that this album is so enjoyable – the symphonic elements have been reduced dramatically and are finally done with a bit of class and style. Actually, there's a little more to it than that. The band have also expanded on every other aspect of their formula and have injected a huge arena rock influence, as well. Throughout The Unforgiving's runtime you'll find the aforementioned occasional dance element, a more diverse collection of keyboard/synth sounds, and most importantly, a decent leap in guitar playing. For the first time in memory, there are actual memorable riffs to be found, as well as melodic leads and a handful of proficient guitar solos. Also, before anyone starts grumbling about the mention of 'arena rock' it should be made clear that the influence is mainly found in the huge choruses and an enhanced energy level that the band have never had before. "In the Middle of the Night" is probably the most rockin' song the band have written since "The Other Half (of Me)" back in 1998. It's heavy (for Within Temptation), fast paced, and features some excellent interplay between the riffs and keyboards – and the chorus simply kicks ass. Of course, no die-hard fan would be happy if the band discarded the mandatory ballads and they're still here.

Anyone familiar with Within Temptation knows that the ballads have always been very syrupy sweet and just a bit cheesy, but they've cut back on both this time. "Fire and Ice" is probably the closest thing to a stereotypical Within Temptation song on the album. It is a bit heavy on the symphonic elements and is the kind of emotionally charged bombast that fans expect from a Within Temptation ballad, but the other one, "Lost", more than makes up for it. "Lost" could definitely be considered a power ballad as it transitions from acoustic to distorted guitars throughout the song. It is a very haunting track that allows the riffs and Sharon to carry the weight with only minimal keyboard support – and it contains an excellent acoustic/electric guitar solo that is surprisingly well done, albeit brief. Other than those two songs, the band keeps the energy levels high. They also keep the quality levels high, as there isn't a single filler track on the album. That being said there are a few tracks that may initially throw people off such as the 80s-rock influenced "Sinead." That song makes more use of programmed beats, but doesn’t waste any time jumping straight into one of the catchiest, most upbeat choruses in the band's career (complete with a bit of 80s-style synth).

When Within Temptation decided to move in a much more accessible direction on The Silent Force they released a very good album that suffered from a few excesses and some growing pains, but the potential was definitely there. The Heart of Everything didn't capitalize on that potential in the slightest and it probably caused a few fans to worry about the band becoming complacent. The Unforgiving is anything other than Within Temptation becoming complacent. It is an album that finally allows the guitar players to escape from the oppressive layer of synth and orchestral elements and they perform admirably. They belt out some respectable riffs, some surprising melodic harmonies, and even a handful of guitar solos. That's not to imply that the orchestral elements are gone, but they benefit from restraint and a touch of class that allows the other facets of the songs to breathe. The end result is that The Unforgiving is easily Within Temptation's most ambitious record, an album that benefits from an increased energy level and strong songwriting in order to deliver a collection of the band's strongest songs to date.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
March 25th 2011


7097 Comments


This is a great album, definite improvement from Mother Earth

Willie
Moderator
March 25th 2011


16049 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

It's pretty much an improvement over all of their other albums. Only The Silent Force comes close, IMO.

Digging: Skrew - Universal Immolation

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
March 25th 2011


16434 Comments


If I've always hated this band will this album change my mind?

Digging: Swallowed - Lunarterial

Willie
Moderator
March 25th 2011


16049 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

If you hate it because of the keyboard/symphony overkill then there's a chance to like this. If you hate it because of the female vocals, syrupy choruses, and a bit of pomp and cheese, then no ;)

NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
March 25th 2011


7097 Comments


probably not you sound pretty set in your ways.

Willie
Moderator
March 25th 2011


16049 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

That was my first thought, but I figured I'd elaborate a little just in case.

You could always try "In The Middle Of The Night." If you can't handle that song then you won't like the rest. The single (Faster) is probably further into the arena rock area than a lot of the other songs on here.

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
March 25th 2011


16434 Comments


I'll give a couple songs a shot and see what I think.

pizzamachine
March 25th 2011


12571 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

A few great songs but not 4 worthy imo.

SuicideVeil90
March 25th 2011


42 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Mother Earth is their best IMO, but this is still pretty good.

Highlights: Shot in the Dark, Fire and Ice, Lost, Murder

Best track: Fire and Ice
Weakest track: Faster

Dreamflight
March 25th 2011


1760 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Pre-ordered this last wednesday, having said that, the only songs I know are Where is the Edge and Faster (like them very much).

Your review give me great hopes man, even if I don't agree with your opinion towards Mother Earth and THoE, cmon there's nothing wrong with some cheese every now and then. :D

Willie
Moderator
March 25th 2011


16049 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

@Pizza: that's the difference. You think there's a few great songs and I think they all turned out great.

@SuicideVeil: Mother Earth isn't bad but it's so damn cheesy and some of those lyrics -- terrible.

@Dreamflight: If you like 'Faster' you'll like the whole album.

WhiteNoise
March 25th 2011


3210 Comments


My old band's singer is OBSESSED with this band. I never liked them but we always opened our shows with Jane Doe. haha

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
March 25th 2011


20857 Comments


I was reading an interview with them last week & a few things they said convinced me to give this a listen when it was released. Trey, your review just backs that assertion up.

And I'm definitely not grumbling about arena rock. LOL.

FatChickIrl
March 25th 2011


4096 Comments


Oh god. Honestly I probably wont check this out even though you gave it a 4.

bloc
March 26th 2011


34919 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Whoa, best album of their career eh? And this showcases the whole bad as well? Might have to give this a go...

AdenZerda
March 26th 2011


118 Comments


I remember hearing "Where Is the Edge" as a single and really disliking it. Maybe I'll give the rest a chance after this review.

xcharlesx
March 26th 2011


192 Comments


dub thee unforgivuuu huuunnn YEAAAHH EEEE YEEAAAAAHH

Acanthus
March 26th 2011


9543 Comments


Hmm I'll have to go look up a few tracks from this.

Digging: The Knife - Deep Cuts

Tyrael
March 26th 2011


20899 Comments


Whenever I hear this band I'm glad that I'm Belgian and not Dutch.

JWT155
March 26th 2011


9297 Comments


Almost took the physical copy of this home with me when I left the studio Tuesday but the album artwork looked atrocious and juvenile so I passed.



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