There was a point where another Within Temptation album may never have happened. After 2014’s Hydra, the band found themselves gaining more attention and popularity than they had ever had before, raising their status to new heights. It seemed like they were at the top of their game, but this wasn’t entirely the case. At the end of the album cycle, they felt burnt-out, unsure what creative direction to take next, alongside tackling personal issues. The future of the band was cast in doubt. This lead to a lot of soul searching, and frontwoman Sharon den Adel poured this energy into her solo career, My Indigo. Luckily, this combination is exactly what they needed, because Within Temptation became revitalised, and they were ready to take things from a fresh perspective.
And here we are, the end result of all this being their seventh LP, Resist. It’s a record that takes the band in a bold new direction, and they’ve completely owned it. It still has that familiar Within Temptation feel, but alongside the symphonic metal elements are the additions of electronic soundscapes and synths. It’s also the heaviest they’ve ever sounded. That’s not to say it’s always brutal in tone, there’s plenty of lighter moments, but when it’s loud, it’s very loud (which is only a good thing!)
The combination of organic and synthetic instruments compliments [the album] further, bringing the war of mankind vs machine to life
Resist is grounded heavily within a concept; a tale of a war against technology that’s being used by governments and corporations to manipulate and control society. This theme is more blatant in some places than others, but it never feels taked on or preachy. It adds a new dimension to the listening experience, and overall has been handled quite elegantly. The combination of organic and synthetic instruments compliments this further, bringing the war of mankind vs machine to life. I admit, the whole ‘technology is evil’ angle has been done to death, but it feels fresh in it’s presentation here.
The opening is signalled by a distorted electronic melody, that sounds like the call of a war trumpet in “The Reckoning”, as an explosion of metal guitars and beats kick in. The album doesn’t hesitate, instantly immersing the listener into the experience with addictive hooks. The guest appearance of Papa Roach’s Jacoby Shaddix is an excellent choice, his vocal style resonating perfectly. “Endless War” has a style and progression that feels like the biggest callback to Within Temptation’s earlier material, only presented in this new rebooted format. There’s hints of symphonic elements, Sharon den Adel’s vocals soar to ethereal heights, and the usage of a choir makes it sound apocalyptic. There’s predominant synths here, making moments sound almost industrial. “Raise Your Banner” (featuring Anders Friden) is the record’s biggest call to arms. The riffs and drumbeats are tribal, as if marching into a huge battle, all coming to a crux with a massive chorus. It’s an extremely dramatic track. “Supernova” starts prominently with a hypnotic synth melody, blending seamlessly with a heavy riff. There’s a space-like feel to it, having some absolutely mesmerising moments. A beautiful string arrangement is complimented with electro backing in “Holy Ground”, and bulky guitars only add more dimension to the track. It constantly switches between these different sounds, each new layer keeping it dynamic. The opening of “In Vain” could easily be mistaken for Linkin Park, but it quickly becomes something that’s their own. The chorus is energetic, but it’s the lyrics themselves that truly hit home in this track. “Firelight” is a slower song, but is no less filled with energy. It stands out the most, although it was orginally intended for My Indigo, but it has been repurposed here, and still fits in with the themes of the record. It’s extremely atmospheric in its combo of synths and strings, the slow beat and pulsing bass feeling catchy. It makes the huge chorus section very impactful. “Mad World” has an 80’s style synth, which is soon backed by a bulky riff. It sounds as if the band are channelling The Birthday Massacre (and being a massive fan, I love this!) Ultimately it becomes pretty straightforward, but the momentum makes this extremely pleasing, and quite danceable. “Mercy Mirror” is purely a ballad, and is the most mainstream sounding of all the tracks on Resist, but it somehow works amongst all the other songs. The piano melody is beautiful, and the layers make this pack more of a punch than it probably should. “Trophy Hunter” closes the record, as a gritty chugging riff dominates. It feels unexpected in how heavy and dark it is, but it’s a welcome addition, and a memorable note to end on.
Within Temptation have not only revitalised themselves as a band, but they’ve breathed new life into their music. The electro elements blend together with their traditional sound perfectly, and the heaviness makes it feel epic. The lighter moments add contrast, and even though the second half feels more ballad-packed, it doesn’t get tiresome or any less engrossing. It’s an album filled with empowering lyrics, huge anthemic moments and stunning symphonic touches, complimented with catchy electronic hooks and intense metal riffs. I honestly find it difficult to pick a favourite track or a highlight, because each one is fantastic in it’s own way.
It’s the first time in a very long time that I feel a band has changed so sonically, yet managed to pull it off with such finesse.
It will perhaps displease the hardcore fans who love the classic material, and it could be argued that it’s a bit poppy at times, but this is a band that’s evolving, who are not afraid to tread new ground. Whatever your perspective is, it’s the record that saved Within Temptation. It’s the first time in a very long time that I feel a band has changed so sonically, yet managed to pull it off with such finesse.
FINAL VERDICT: Within Temptation return with a brave new sound, and it’s a glorious transformation! Backed by an elegantly presented concept, it combines their epic symphonic sound with electronic elements and ups the heaviness. What ensues is 47 minutes of some of the band’s finest crafted material yet.