“The Heart Of Everything” by Within Temptation

Artist: Within Temptation
Title: “The Heart Of Everything”
Label: Roadrunner Records
Release Date: 7/24/2007
Genre: Gothic Metal
Rating: 4/5

For the American fans of the Gothic Metal genre the wait is finally over as Within Temptation arrives with “The Heart Of Everything” – their debut release on Roadrunner Records. The bands presence in this part of the world is long overdue to many, and also might seem a bit too late to capture audiences who have been buried by similar groups over the past few years. Since 1996, the band led by Sharon den Adel has delivered Gothic tasting Metal that blended in well with a Symphonic edge and gave an instant classic status to albums such as “Mother Earth”. Forming in the same year as the Finnish juggernaut Nightwish, these Metal superpowers would lead the pack for Symphonic Operatic Metal and go on to inspire more bands than you could possibly imagine or hope to name in one sitting. One such stateside inspiration is clearly found in Evanescence and this fact makes parts of “THOE” very interesting to listen to as there are some songs on this release with an uncanny similarity in the song composition and groove. The lead single comes in “What Have You Done Now”, a duet of sorts with Keith Caputo, the lead singer of another Roadrunner staple Life Of Agony. It’s a powerful track but has a lot of the same feel that Evanescence had with “Bring Me To Life” – their own blockbuster hit that found the male and female voices performing against one another. There are many who feel the inclusion of Caputo on the debut single for Within Temptation has taken a little of the bands thunder away, and I tend to agree for with an all male band standing with her – Caputo’s presence was not needed at all. If a re-launch of his own career is pending, then it should not come at the cost of the kudos and accolades for this wonderful Melodic Gothic troupe. The US version also gives you an extended version of this same track.

Those who have heard them in the past should be aware that the album is much more contemporary with today’s sound and has very little in the way of songs like “Ice Queen”, or “Mother Earth”. Yet despite this fact there are a number of winning tunes present here and many of them offer homage to their own introduced style. It opens with “The Howling” and this is quite the dramatic track with a werewolf twist. “Frozen” is the first ballad we find on the album and even though it’s a slower track it has a resounding chorus, great piano and string implements and is sure to become one of the favored tracks on the disc. They offer up some of their past with “Our Solemn Hour”, my own favorite track on the album based on the way the heavy Gothic and haunting groove plays out. There is some Latin thrown in for good measure and a superb choir chorus used as well. The albums title track offers up a little bit of the dark vocals in the background and through it all Sharon seems to be in top form vocally. She keeps her notes in the higher register but does not go overboard on it and instead plays a little more with the melodies of the band. Guitarist Robert Westerholt has penned all of the lyrics with Sharon but the music was done for the most part with Daniel Gibson. The US release comes with an additional track that is not on the European version with “Stand My Ground” – this track appeared originally on the album “The Silent Force”. The CD is also made with Opendisc technology that allows for additional content to be accessed when played in a computer with an Internet connection. Lyrics are included in the enclosed booklet which is rather ornate and has a few band photos. While this might not be as grandiose as the Within Temptation of the early years I think its great to have them releasing material for a major label as overall this is a very strong release that offers a lot of poignant musical moments. The sense of drama comes to life across most of the tunes and they are very easy to remember which will find the listener spinning this several times before they decide to move on to other music. Roadrunner Records signing of Within Temptation at least allows them to reach more people than they were doing in the past and now with label mates Nightwish will show many of the upstart Gothic Symphonic groups how it was always meant to be done. Welcome my friends, we have been waiting for you for some time.

Track Listing:
1. The Howling
2. What Have You Done Now
3. Frozen
4. Our Solemn Hour
5. Heart Of Everything
6. Hand Of Sorrow
7. Cross
8. Final Destination
9. All I Need
10. Truth Beneath The Rose
11. Forgiven

Official Website: www.within-temptation.com

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