Review: Within Temptation’s THE UNFORGIVING Plays It Safe

I love Within Temptation‘s music. They write grand songs, and Sharon den Adel is one of the most powerful female Gothic/symphonic metal vocalists out there. When I heard about the comic book concept behind their newest album, The Unforgiving, I was excited about the possibilities for new musical ideas.

The story centers around a powerful medium, Mother Maiden, who recruits lost souls to be part of her task force to fight evil in all its forms. She offers them the opportunity to “make right what is wrong” by giving them missions to hunt down evil as penance for their previous sins. The comic book series was written by Steven O’Connell (BloodRayne and Dark 48) and drawn by Romano Molenaar (Witchblade, Darkness, and X-Men).

Sounds like inspiration for adventurous music, right? Well, not so much. Don’t get me wrong; The Unforgiving features great orchestration, soaring choruses, and stellar vocals from den Adel. There’s a nice balance of up-tempo, heavy, and mellow songs. But it sounds exactly like all of their other albums. It’s disappointing that they weren’t as adventurous with their song-writing as they were with their storyline.

Despite the lack of originality, there were a few songs that I enjoyed. “In the Middle of the Night” showcases den Adel’s rich lower register and a cool classical-style midsection. “Fire and Ice” follows a gorgeous musical arc. A mysterious string intro leads into an acoustic piano melody which sounds like a dark music box. Den Adel sings a tremulous melody over a piano and string accompaniment. The intensity builds with the entrance of drums and synthesized choir vocals. The piece travels back to its mysterious mood, ending with sparse vocals over the piano melody.

“Iron” joyfully chews the scenery with an introduction reminiscent of the title song from The Phantom of the Opera. The heroic chorus indulges in rich vocal harmonies. A shameless modulation to a higher key kicks the end of the song into high gear.

“Lost” is a mournful ballad. The slow, triple meter track features a comic book character battling the sensation of feeling buried alive. The middle of the song revels in passionate acoustic and electric guitar solos.

The most disappointing moment of The Unforgiving for me was the fadeout at the end of the final track, “Stairway to the Skies”, which provided insubstantial closure to the storyline of the album.

Track listing is as follows:

1. Why Not Me
2. Shot in the Dark
3. In the Middle of the Night
4. Faster
5. Fire and Ice
6. Iron
7. Where Is the Edge
8. Sinead
9. Lost
10. Murder
11. A Demon’s Fate
12. Stairway to the Skies

 

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2 comments on “Review: Within Temptation’s THE UNFORGIVING Plays It Safe
  1. This is not a safe album – it changes the game. Sinead is among the most joyfully provocative videos – and pushes barriers for glamviolence. The story videos are brightly disconcerting – and the sequel comic book is a whole world of stylish animosity.

    • Hi David, thanks for your comment. I would agree with you that the concept, videos, and artwork behind this album do not play it safe. However, the actual musical content of the album is not nearly as innovative. I enjoyed the music, but I didn’t feel that it matched the unique ideas behind the concept of the album.

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