Review Summary: Bland. Monotone. Forgettable.
When Within Temptation set out to create Hydra
, their intent was to showcase the varied and multi-faced character of their music. Try as I might, though, after listening to the album a few times, I just cannot bring myself to label it as "varied". Throughout its 10-song duration, Hydra's music blends into a homogeneous mass with barely any distinguishable elements that make the songs stand out. To me, the band has lost the skill to lay down huge and memorable melodies that they previously wielded so successfully. The musicianship predictably degenerates into boring guitar/synth rhythms, with lacklustre drums backing them up. Singer Sharon den Adel's voice has retained its edge, but does little to save the overall instrumental failure. Meanwhile, the symphonic elements have been watered down and simplified to the point where the band could have just as easily done without them. There is certainly nothing "symphonic" about this release, and even less "metal" or even "rock". The only band member that makes his presence more known is guitarist Ruud Jolie, with the occasional (admittedly very skilled) solo that he puts down.
The addition of guest singers cannot gather much praise either. Dangerous
, featuring the otherwise great Howard Jones of Killswitch Engage, fails to unleash the full potential of the singers, as their vocals seem rather underused. The duet with Tarja on Paradise
is rather unimpressive as well, as the girls' voices are just too similar to create an interesting interplay. And the ballady closer Whole World is Watching
with David Pirner is easily the most watered down and cheesy song on the album.
The positive sides? I have to give special props to Xzibit for saving And We Run
. His rapping delivery adds a whole new level of attitude and character, viciousness even, to this otherwise unnotable song. This is the one time when the addition of a guest musician succeeds, and succeeds well, as the vast difference in styles creates an exciting contrast. Silver Moonlight
has a rather big chorus that makes it stand above the rest of the tracks, while Dangerous
despite the weak vocal duet features a very energetic computerised dance beat that is bound to make the song a hit. Paradise
may not be that
interesting, but it still is a pretty strong track. I mean, come on, it is Tarja and Sharon, after all -- the two most recognised names in the sub-genre. The best number on here, however, is Dog Days
. It is very well developed, progressing through a haunting keyboards intro, to a very accentuated drum pattern during the big verse and chorus, both featuring great lyrics and vocal delivery, goes through an interlude with a cool solo, to arrive at a stunning finish.
witnesses a great watering down in Within Temptation's sound, and is quite a long shot from being the multi-headed beast it was intended to be. The listener is left unfulfilled, especially considering the great previous two efforts the band put out.
-And We Run