Within Temptation
Mother Earth


2.0
poor

Review

by Cain USER (26 Reviews)
February 11th, 2006 | 22 replies | 4,538 views


Release Date: 2000 | Tracklist


3 of 5 thought this review was well written

It's funny how, in the wonderful world of rock music, there can exist bands, groups, or musicians who can prove to be eternally frustrating, due to their position on the exact line between what you love and what you don't. Often, we're lucky enough as listeners to hear a group and immediately tell whether the music is brilliant, good, bad, or terrible. Our individual aesthetic dictates the ways our tastes run and we're all the better for it. However, sometimes there can be a group that can have literally every single element of other groups you love and adore, and yet for incomprehensible reasons, the band fails to move you the way the others do.

Within Temptation's album "Mother Earth" is like that for me. It is such a bother. In theory, I should love it, if only because it doesn't do anything radically different from any of the groups I enjoy. I'm a huge fan of Lacuna Coil, and Nightwish especially. And here is a group that has a foot in the goth-metal camp, and another foot in--the Celtic folk camp!! Good Lord, I thought to myself, now HERE is the group of groups! Celtic music is some of the calmest, most beautiful music I've heard, and here is a group that combines it all, and yet produces something easily less than the sum of the parts put into it. The disappointment and frustration I feel goes beyond the desire to like it--it's the knowledge that, by God, I should. And yet it doesn't move me.

After my initial perplexion at the fact that I had gotten this album and was skipping through songs faster and faster with each minute, after having been so excited about it, I think I've narrowed down a few of the issues that I have with it. First, the singer, Sharon den Adel, is obviously a singer of Celtic folk--she possesses the same airy, fluttering quality the best singers of the New Age/Celtc genre are possessed with, such as Mary McLaughlin and Loreena McKennit. And yet, over the music her bandmates make, her voice more often than not sounds shrill, untrained, stretched, not soaring with the trademark beauty of others working in the genre. Her note choices strike me as questionable, as well, and her voice, when set on "power," merely just sounds loud and striking in its thinness. More than anything, her voice is mostly devoid of the organic warmth of her contemporaries.

This may have more to do with the production of the album, however, and the choices made by the producers and the band to play up certain elements of the music. I come to this conclusion based on another factor that irks me here: the orchestral arrangements are just overflowing with unedited bombast. Even the cheesiest of the cheese bands like Rhapsody temper their orchestra arrangements, doing their best (and doing it well) to preserve the organic, driving nature of their music. Here, by contrast, keyboardist RenÚ Merkelbach went incredibly note-happy and produced one of the thickest, most elaborate orchestral arrangements I've heard from any band of this type. There are so many instruments playing such dense harmony at all times, moving with the drama and crashing loudness of an epic Broadway musical, that the overall effect, when set against the simple 4/4 structures of the overwhelmingly average rock songs buried underneath all throughout this album, is to muddy the sound, destroying any semblance of tightness, coherent rhythm, and power. The drums and electric guitars, ordinarily at the forefront of any metal outfit incorporating orchestras, are mixed way, way down and are heavy on the treble and mids even with my stereo's bass boost on. The technical precision of the band members are totally overshadowed by the constant clashing and crashing of about 100 violins, 60 cellos, 30 tubas, 40 French horns, and battalions of trumpets, harps, pianos, chimes, xylophones, flutes, English horns, ulliean pipes and God knows what else.

With all that going on at once, the whole thing sounds unfocused and leaves me flat. It's disappointing because Within Temptation seem to be considered a cream-of-the-crop group within their genre, and as I said, I really do want to like them.

Within Temptation is:
Sharon den Adel- vocals
Robert Westerholt - guitars
Ruud Jolle - guitars
RenÚ Merkelbach - keyboards
Jeroen Van Veen - bass
Stephen Van Haegstradt - drums

1.) Mother Earth
A perfect example. In the intro I can detect two cellos, a viola, a traditional flute, a piano, a violin, and a full choir, and that's before it's SUPPOSED to sound loud. Then comes really loud chimes and a blaring horn over frenetic strings, and almost inaudible drums where the bass drum is apparently not played. Sharon's vocals here aren't terrible, but over the chorus you can tell that over the really imbalanced and loud violins, not to mention the rest of the orchestra with the horns and the strings and the sinks and the kazoos and whatnot, she's having a hard time. This music would be so much better if all that crap was just toned down a bit. The melodies sound so insipid over all that business. This opener already left me flat, which boded ill for the rest. 2.5/5

2.) Ice Queen
I love the moodiness of this intro, which adds neat synth flourishes to the orchestra. The choir parts, unfortunately, just scream "Omen!" And then when the band comes in with a trademark Big Dumb Chord Progression over a bouncy rhythm, for some reason the "oh-oh!" part DOESN'T go away, making the whole thing sound unintentionally funny. And those horns again. Ugh. I like the vocal melody, it's nice and poppy, but especially in the chorus, it gets lost amidst the reverbations of all the other instruments. Jesus, get rid of all that echo. Every instrument sounds like it was recorded in a cavern. A calm interlude is very beautiful. Just imagine how great that would be if the rest of the song had any sense of what "oomph" is. 3/5

3.) Our Farewell
The band should really stick to making songs like this. Or the producer could form a sort of intervention group, like for alcoholics, except this one would be to be sure the band weaned themselves off their addiction to reverb except for songs like this. Anyhow, this song is a much calmer, very ambient and lilting ballad that would not be out of place on a Celtic music album. Sharon shines on this one. 4/5

4.) Caged
As far as the others go this is a little more tolerable, since the slow place makes the ambient activity from the orchestra more tolerable. But there are still a few parts where the band is obviously intending for heavy headbangingness and they're stopped by all the reverb. Everything just goes awash in those sections. Also, Sharon attempts to make her vocals a little more edgy, with mixed results: it's very shrill and I find it mildly annoying. The choir singing is insipid. 2.5/5

5.) The Promise
Here we get another awesome intro that hints at all sorts of epic awesomeness. Oh, wait, but then there's a funny horn melody over it. More and more and more instruments come in. Fortunately, this is saved by a very cool band interplay section when the guitars come in. The drumbeat, which exits typical realms for the first time here, helps. But then the next thing we hear are silly and disproportionately loud plinks from muted violins over more orchestra business gone awry. The chorus here is really good, though, another shining moment from Sharon. The guitars and drums should be mixed this high all the time. The outro is really cool, with great chugging from the guitarists. 3.5/5

6.) Never Ending Story
Now here's some great stuff. A beautiful harp and piano part gives away to a great Celtic-style melody from Sharon. I'm serious, this band would be much better off lightening up and playing Renaissance-style New Age with a slight rock feel. Excellent song. 5/5

7.) Deceiver of Fools
Additional completely overwrought orchestra ambiences invade the intro here. The hummed vocals are mixed disproportionately loud...once again, the band misplaces the proper instruments and parts to elevate for certain sections. The group requires a much keener sense of dynamics than what it has now. When the band comes in, though, the music is pretty quality. 4/5

8.) Intro
A pretty throwaway piece, this is actually very interesting and eerie. It's short, but if the band were this moderately inventive all the time, they'd at least be moderately interesting all the time.

9.) Dark Wings
A slight Nightwish vibe becomes apparant here. But God, why are those muted violins mixed so high all the time? Ugh. Anyway, the song isn't very different in tone from anything that came before, but there is a very nice vocal melody in the chorus. There's a really nice harmonized solo towards the end also. 3/5

10.) In Perfect Harmony
Yet again, here is a very nice, ballad-y New Age-style tune with wonderful nylon-string acoustic guitar and another subdued solo, with great ambience and depth. Within Temptation should seriously get rid of their electric instruments altogether. This is fantastic and beautiful. 5/5

11.) Restless
This is a nice, moody track that keeps the orchestra stuff more or less under control. The guitar parts here are fuzzed-out and fantastic. Tone-wise the song ends up being mostly similar to what came before, but that's all right, because this is pretty good. 3/5

12.) Bittersweet
Another great ballad closes this out. Wonderful. I'm serious. No more electrics for this band. Ever. 5/5

Jeez, it's such a bummer that this album was fraught with so many utterly misguided mistakes of production, because there's the potential for so much lovable stuff there. Plus the singer's really hot too. ;) In any case, I'm giving this a 2 owing to the incredible level of flatness this leaves me with. If you like, you don't really need to view that rating as definitive, as it's more or less biased towards my own personal taste. Even so, giving it a higher rating on the off chance that people will disagree with me is dishonest: I can't really recommend this.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Cravinov13
February 11th 2006



3854 Comments


I was thinking of checking these guys out. I was hoping they'd be another good Lacuna Coil like band.

Shattered_Future
February 11th 2006



1540 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

This is their best album, which isn't saying much.

Within Temptation is rather crappy. They are somewhat of a bad sign for gothic metal, as they are one of the most popular (and worst) bands in the genre. People associate them with the music style, which they shouldn't.

Horribly simplistic music left me spacing out throughout this album. Dark Wings was a decent song, partly because of that one moment with the male choir and Shannon.

Otherwise, though, this album is a spiraling pit of suck, out of which the band cannot escape. And it's their best album. Very sad...

Cravinov13
February 11th 2006



3854 Comments


The singer's pretty attractive though

Cain
February 12th 2006



155 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Yeah, I'm actually considering lowering the rating a little. I got the sense that they
are well-loved, so I was originally suspecting that I was just missing something. But
seriously, it's just so crappy. Never have I heard a band expend so much effort to
make their music complex and orchestrated to get so little return.This Message Edited On 02.12.06

fatkid
February 12th 2006



2 Comments


i disagree with the review. Cain says he really wants to like this album/artist . i disagree with that, i believe that he wants this album to be like the music he likes. the difference? This artist can do whatever they want. When you listen to an album with preconceded notions about what it should and will sound like, you automatically set the album up for failure. Within Temptation is different than Nightwish or Lacuna Coil. like Cain said, they are more of a celtic sound. How someone can dislike this band is beyond me, but i dont personally care. What i do care is that this is an innapropriate review. You cant review something by what you wish it sounded like. you have to approach each new artist as if you know nothing about it, and take it for what it is. This is not another nightwish, and they dont try to be. they are an excellent band, i like their newer album better, but this is still an incredible album. I like it because i didnt go into the experience muttering "nighwish, nightwish, nightwish, nightwish..." i'm not a fanboy either, and perhaps my point of view comes from the fact that i listened to within temptation before i listened to lacuna coil or nightwish, but i disagree with your review. However, you do say that it is your opinion so its not a total loss eh?

Cain
February 12th 2006



155 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

What I don't understand is why you would say my review is poorly written when really the only problem you seem to have with it is that you disagree with me. I can easily review something based on what I would like to hear, because the band markets itself as being a representative and important group within their genre, and in reality the quality of their music is subpar, in my opinion, compared to the rest of the music within the genre. How else does one critique that which they don't appreciate? I came at this looking forward to a band that combined the goth-rock thing and the Celtic folk influence, which I typically love.

You seem to be misunderstanding the purpose of reviews in general, and, most importantly, the job of a critic. I don't write reviews to concede to the wishes or opinions of everyone who disagrees with my own. The purpose of the reviewer is to recommend works he/she feels is worthy of note, and to dissuade people from spending their valuable dollars on works that I feel they would be unlikely to like. It's not "inappropriate" or a "bad review" just because I make it very clear that I don't like it. If you can't understand why I don't like it, then you've got problems of your own, and in any case it's no cause for saying my review is poorly written. I specify within the review that this is not a definitive rating, it is biased towards my own personal taste, feel free to disagree with me or to check it out contrary to my recommendation, and that I cannot in good conscience or honesty recommend it, because I think it stinks. Feel free to write your own review if you think I have misrepresented this group and this sound. In the meantime, don't downrate reviews that people work very hard on to produce just because you disagree with their opinion.

nightwishmaster
May 1st 2006



65 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

im with shattered_future on this one--within temptation are rip offs of nightwish and lacuna coil...truly cheesy

Dethtrasher
July 14th 2006



2211 Comments


This band is not so good as Nightwish, but I agree with Crav, very attractive singer and she sings like an angel in my opinion.

wikuk
August 16th 2006



1110 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

This review is very good, but sometimes I get the impression that you're copmaring their work to bands like Nightwish. That's not wrong, it's a good use of comparing bands, but you slightly crossed the line. This band is indeed a gothic band, but more a commercial one. Sharon has a very good voice but just like most mainstream bands, the vox gets all the attention in the songs.

radianteclipse
August 16th 2006



397 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Ok, I actually kind of like this band. Not so much this album, I liked the Silent Force a little bit better. Definately not outstanding stuff, but it's not the most horrible music I have ever heard.

Altmer
August 22nd 2006



5652 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

mother earth isn't that bad, some songs like neverending story really keep this record up, you should bitch about the silent force, that's their abomination.

wikuk
September 21st 2006



1110 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Their ballads are superior.

BlackOpera
January 14th 2007



12 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

well i have some other background than all of you, because this cd brought me into metal, and they are from Holland (so am I :D). Yes that 5 is shining above this short message, and i'm proud of WT. I think you all will understand the fact that this cd is my first metal-like cd i own, so i have to give it a special place in my heart, just like CoF's MIDIAN.This Message Edited On 01.14.07

jrowa001
January 20th 2007



8750 Comments


boring album, great vocals, and hot singer (saw a pic with very nice cleavage)

Altmer
January 22nd 2007



5652 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

It's Sharon guys!

(seen these guys and girl live)

TheHamburgerman
February 13th 2007



1286 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Decent band, but they are from holland (yeah, me 2) so I have to bend a li'l bit...

It was a nice review, although some sentences sounded rather immature.

Altmer
March 8th 2007



5652 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This album and band are so much better than I remember them. Maybe it's because Enter kicks so much ass. :x

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
November 30th 2008



16310 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

I listened to this again today and it helped me reinforce my opinion that this album is absolute shit.

XfingTheSullen
April 27th 2010



2497 Comments


BlackOpera, if you want a Dutch band to be proud of, check Epica. They are better. Or better yet, check The Monolith Deathcult. They are fucking kickass.

Digging: Kalisia - Cybion

AnotherBrick
April 27th 2010



9770 Comments


i've only heard the silent force by these guys and i thought it was pretty damn good



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