Dutch symphonic metal maestros Within Temptation caused a bit of a bustle in Euro hedgerows when they declared, in advance of the release of this, their seventh full-length album, that Resist was an album heavily influenced by pop music.
Nothing ruffles the feathers of your common or garden metal fan more than the dread word ‘pop’, especially when it’s placed in close proximity to one of our dearest metal heroes. It took Judas Priest the best part of three decades to live down Turbo, so Sharon den Adel and company would really appear to be taking their careers in their hands with such a drastic left turn.
Except they’ve really done nothing of the sort. Metal flirtation with pop – at least the sort of auto-tuned horror show that masquerades as modern pop – can work, and work well, as fans of Amaranthe and Sonic Syndicate will never tire of telling you. But, and it’s a pretty big but, Within Temptation are too long in the tooth, and too comfortable in their own skins, to throw the baby out with the hardstep bathwater. In fact, on reflection, there’s nothing here even remotely as overtly poppy as the superb Sinead from their 2011 album The Unforgiving, with the band rather seeming more content just to adopt some modern recording and arrangement techniques in tandem with producer and co-writer Daniel Gibson. More importantly, perhaps, there are no David Guetta covers.
Gibson does give the material a modern sheen; Firelight, which features a duet vocal from Jesper Steverlinck of Belgian popstrels Arid, is a brooding, cinematic epic given wings by the Swede’s superb knob twiddling; however this is the exception rather than the rule, with only the balladic Mercy Mirror standing any chance of becoming a staple on commercial radio, and thankfully the band stay firmly in their comfort zone on tracks like the excellent Mad World (which bears a faint resemblance to the afore-mentioned Sinead, actually), meaning that there’s more than enough on offer here to keep longstanding fans happy.
As ever, Den Adel is the star of the show, presiding over the album with another in her long line of consummate performances. Few vocalists possess her flair for conveying battered, fragile and raw emotion, and here once again she gives a bravura performance on every track. It’s a masterclass of power and control, a delight to hear. And if individual members of the band never threaten to outshine her, they do at least work perfectly together as a unit to back her up – it’s very much business as usual in Camp Within Temptation, in fact.
Well worth a listen, then, and trust me – there’s no need to worry that you might be infected by the pop virus if you choose to give Resist a spin…
Resist will be released on February 1, 2019