Within Temptation

Picture of Within Temptation

The Dance EP

Within Temptation - The Dance EP ©1997 DSFA Records
1. The Dance
2. Another Day
3. The Other Half (of Me)
4. Restless (remix)
5. Candles & Pearls Of Light (remix)

If there is a “most important” disc in Within Temptation’s history, this may very well be it. The orchestral element of Enter is pushed much further forward. Enter was one of those discs that had the feel of a bunch of young birds sitting in their nest looking out at the world. They say to one another, “We could be out there flying, but this nest is warm and safe.”

The Dance pushed the fledglings out of the nest to see if they could fly. Fly they did. This enhanced CD offers a lot more than pictures and computer goodies. The first three tracks give us a real look at the Within Temptation of today. There are still the growly death vox that were present on Enter, but you can feel the band making ready to let go of this last tether holding them to the typical gothic stereotype as they edge more and more toward an epic, majestic dark metal sound. Even the remix of “Restless" and the remixed medley of “Candles” and “Pearls of Light” show a penchant for the epic sound that we find on Mother Earth.

This little disc was clearly a defining moment for Within Temptation. They took a step away from the comfort zone to see what would happen, and if Mother Earth is any indication, they are not looking back. I really look forward to the next full release from this band. Now that they have their wings and the confidence to fly, it will be really something to see where they go.

Review by Matthew Braymiller

Review date: 07/2001

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Enter

Within Temptation - Enter ©1997 DSFA Records
1. Restless
2. Enter
3. Pearls Of Light
4. Deep Within
5. Gatekeeper
6. Grace
7. Blooded
8. Candles

Let me start out by saying that fans of The Gathering are going to love Within Temptation. Sharon den Adel has a voice that is absolutely stunning. Those who have read my reviews of Lana Lane, Nightwish and a few other bands know that I really enjoy a good female singer and Sharon den Adel is one of the best I have ever heard. Her voice is rich and very passionate.

But, before I turn this review into a drooling fan letter, let me look at the rest of the band. The music on this disc is head and shoulders above much of what I have heard in the doomy gothic influenced progressive metal. The music is majestic and powerful. The guitars actually pack a lot of punch. It is a wonderful thing to have a great singer, but if your band is mediocre, you might as well not sing. I am happy that such is not the case here. The band is really great. The songs are written in such a way as to both showcase the singer and allow the band to strut its stuff. The production very neatly walks the narrow line of maintaining the balance so that the vocals do not hog the whole show, nor does the band drown out the singer.

Enter is a very good debut. It adheres a little too much to the standard formula of growling death vocals and soaring female vox, but I think this is due more to this being a debut and the band feeling its way than to any lack of creativity on their part. The songs have plenty of meat and are long. They are a good example of the potential they will later realize on Mother Earth.

Review by Matthew Braymiller

Review date: 07/2001

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Mother Earth

Within Temptation - Mother Earth ©2000 DSFA Records
1. Mother Earth
2. Ice Queen
3. Our Farewell
4. Caged
5. The Promise
6. Never-ending Story
7. Deceiver Of Fools
8. Intro
9. Dark Wings
10. In Perfect Harmony

Somewhat known as that "other band from the Netherlands with a female singer", Within Temptation has come quite a ways on their second full length release, Mother Earth. Above all, they have completely focused on the high, lilting and beautiful vocals of Sharon van Adel for this album and come up with a very lush, epic quasi-soundtrack musical backdrop to showcase her singing. Their debut, Enter, did feature some male death metal vocals, but fortunately these have been summarily dismissed for Mother Earth.

As the band has gone out of their way to write something challenging, the music on Mother Earth is very adventurous and has the feel of a score to a film set in some enchanted lands. The concurrent usage of heavy guitars with dramatic synthesizer passages, flutes and other orchestration works quite well for Within Temptation and provide van Adel with an appropriate style for her singing ability. The album ranges from stirring and thunderous (the opening title track) to pensive and brooding, with van Adel singing over piano. One gets the feeling the band had a strong understanding of their compositions rather than just stringing some riffs together and slapping a few keyboard effects over top of the affair. Fortunately the band avoids sounding melodramatic, maudlin and overblown. There are no real moments where the listener's attention will fade or suffer.

Mother Earth is quite a solid album that seems to be deserving of more attention and praise than I've observed. It might provide some respite for fans of The Gathering who wish to hear beautiful female vocals in a more metallic setting, although Mother Earth tends to be a little more grandiose than most metal. No matter what, it is a very recommended album.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 07/2001

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Review #2:

With this release, Within Temptation have almost fully shed the chrysalis of their gothic origins. The sound is rich and majestic and very mature. The hints of orchestral grandeur that were present on Enter and The Dance are realized in Mother Earth.

One thing I really like about this disc is that the band manages to rein in short of the realms of epic fantasy metal that are the territory of Rhapsody and Hammerfall. While the sound has elements of epic fantasy metal, it does not wholly embrace that sound but keeps it safely at arm’s length, allowing it to be only an influence, shaping and adding to the sound rather than consuming it. There is a delicate balance maintained all through the album that is worthy of praise. It is one of the marks of the band’s maturity that they know what no to do with their music. The result is that there is not an overblown feel to the sound.

Of the many molds broken is that of the “beauty and the beast” vocal combination of death vox and soaring female vox. The only voice on this album is Sharon den Adel’s. Her voice carries the listener along with ease. Again the band avoids the temptation of throwing together some basic melodies and relying on their vocalist to do the rest. They weave the delicate vocal melodies into some very rich, lush sound thereby weaving a wonderful tapestry of music. There are a lot of light and airy passages in the music but the band comes back to the heavier edge time and again lest we forget that Within Temptation is a metal band.

Mother Earth is a great album from a band that consistently hones their musical edge and works to improve and build on what is already a very good sound. Fans of epic fantasy metal need to give this one a listen. Fans of progressive metal will enjoy it as well. Anyone who enjoys music that has a lot of detail and rich orchestration will appreciate this effort.

Review by Matthew Braymiller

Review date: 08/2001

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Ice Queen [single]

Within Temptation - Ice Queen Single ©2001 DSFA Records
1. Ice Queen (radio Version)
2. Mother Earth (Leidse Kade Live)
3. Caged (Leidse Kage Live)
4. Ice Queen (Leidse Kage Live)
5. Ice Queen (demo Version - August 2000)
6. Caged (demo Version - August 2000)

This little EP is a nice little “extra” for fans of Within Temptation. It affords many the only real taste they will have of a live performance from a very talented band.

The three Leidse Kage live tracks were recorded on February 2, 2001. It is hard to capture the full concert experience on a CD, but the band seems to have a very good stage presence. They are enthusiastically greeted and applauded. Their live sound is very true to the studio sound. Being able to hear the title track in three different versions is a really neat experience. The demo version has a raw edge to it that gives the song a wholly different interpretation. The song goes through some real fleshing out by the time it is recorded for the Mother Earth CD. It loses a lot of the edge, but it gains a lot in fullness. The same can be said for the “Caged” demo track.

People like me who simply must own a complete discography of bands in whom they are interested will want this disc (obviously). But it will also appeal to those who like to listen to songs in different incarnations. It is worth purchasing solely for the live tracks but the added “extras” make it a real gem of a disc.

Review by Matthew Braymiller

Review date: 08/2001

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