Within Temptation - Enter


Year of Release: 1997
Label: DSFA Records
Catalog Number: DSFA 1007
Format: CD
Total Time: 45:30:00

Suffice it to say that I am not a big fan of what has been deemed "Beauty & the Beast" metal; technically described as symphonic, gothic, atmospheric, mostly gloomy and doomy metal fronted by females vocals and accompanied by a heavy, growling male vocal. The contrast in singing styles seems to have paid off a bit, as there are now tons of bands dabbling in this area, and they are starting to pop up everywhere; some good, some bad and some excellent. What constitutes the levels of performance from the other is really a matter of taste, and lately, who is doing something different with this type of music as opposed to the other bands. The style has really caught on, and now bands are scrambling to find a way to differentiate themselves from the other bands by trying to add certain elements, instruments, singing styles to their music to establish their own identity.

I've dabbled in the genre somewhat and not being a fan of the deathy, growling vocals in the least has pretty much kept me clear of the style, but for awhile I was sampling lots of the style compliments of Chris Mitchell, who has been on a mission to uncover every band in the world that plays this style. After hearing about all I could take in the genre, I settled for what I felt were the best bands in the genre that suited my particular taste. In this case, I?ve settled on Within Temptation as one of my favorites in the genre for many reasons.

THE STYLE:

This is gloomy, doomy, slow moving, atmospheric, symphonic gothic metal. The music is driven by heavy, thundering guitars totally complemented with tons of atmospheric and thick keyboards. It?s this combination that makes the music as beautiful sounding as it is. The style thrives on beauty - so what the bands do is crank up the guitar sound so that it's chunky and heavy, and then pile on the layers of keyboards to give it that added melodic warmth and beauty. The soft, tantalizing voice of the female singer finishes out the beauty part of the style. From what I've heard, most bands in this style like to play the music in a very slow, dragging manner giving it the gloomy feeling that often is associated with this music. Some of the bands even inject progressive elements into their music. Within Temptation stays within the confines of that slow, dragging, gloomy approach to their music, adding in some exquisite vocals from Sharon den Adel, who I consider to be one of the best in the genre. Lush synths abound on this disc, along with the crunching guitars and growling vocals, and along with the soft, velvet-like vocals of Sharon, allow the listener to imagine a woman dressed in a bright, white flowing dress, engaged in some sort of contact with a black, shadowy figure. It makes for quite the contrast in music and in the imagery.

THE BAND:

Sharon den Adel / vocals
Robert Westerholt / vocals, guitar
Martijn Westerholt / synthesizers
Ivar de Graaf / drums
Jeroen Van Deen / bass
Michael Papenhove / guitars

THE VOCALS:

As far as I'm concerned, Sharon den Adel has one of the most beautiful voices in this genre. I don't have any particular reason for saying this, it's the fact that her voice seems the most velvet-like of most of the singers in this genre, and she doesn't "chant" as much like some of the females tend to do instead of sing. I?m sure they are singing, but the vocal melodies are written in a way that it sounds like they are chanting the words, and the words become meaningless at that point. Sharon does chant at times, but she sounds like she is committed to singing the lyrics as much as possible and she does a fantastic job of it. Her angelic voice pitted against the evil growling voice really creates a fine contrast between the two vocal styles. Admittedly, the growling is kept to a minimum, popping in here and there to make a point and then letting Sharon take over again, and there is one song designated to him as well, but for the most part, Sharon is given most of the reign and rightly so. Both her voice and music are very emotional and beautiful; they go hand in with each other incredibly well.

THE PRODUCTION:

Seeing as how Oscar (Ayreon) Holleman mixed this disc, it only stands to reason that it's a top- notch production, and it is. Most bands in this genre do focus on great sound in their music, and rightfully so considering how much is going on within the music.

Starting out with the guitars, they have a cutting, heavy, crunching edge to them, providing more than enough punch and thrust for the avid metal fan. The heavy sound of this band definitely emanates from the guitar firepower, rich with thunder and sustain.

It's a clean, crisp, sound with maximum sustain engaged. The bass pounds out thunderous bottom end worthy of any subwoofer and mine rattles the walls easily with this music being fed into it. Heavy, menacing and powerful, the bass complements the guitar sound perfectly to give this that metal and thunder feeling we all crave. The keys are one of the two standouts of sound on the disc. Precisely placed in the mix, whether it be to accent or to lead into a song, the keys are lush, up in the mix, and they are one of the two driving forces behind the beauty of this music. The other force behind the beauty is the beautiful recording of the vocals. When Sharon sings alone, or behind a thunderous wall of epic sound, she is always heard. Of course, when she sings solo, it's a sound to behold as her voice is filled with cavernous reverb at times, and other times it's left alone in a natural environment. I believe that the key to successful recordings in bands with this style, is to make sure that the soft, velveteen-like vocals of the female must be captured properly. Oscar Holleman does a fantastic job of keeping the delicate balance between voice and heavy music, making this disc one of the better sounding discs I've heard in this genre. The drums are heavy, boomy and also produce much thunder. My only minor complaint with this sound is the noise gate placed on the snare drum. It's not the tinny, cardboard sound that plagues many discs these days, however, the snare drum sound has been altered a bit, almost as if he is hitting the side of the drum every single beat. I'm not sure of the affect used to achieve this sound, but I would have preferred a thundering, full snare drum to complement the rest of this majestic sound, but it's a slight complaint because at high volumes, this artifact goes unnoticed.

THE VERDICT:

Anyone who is looking to venture into this style to see what all the ravings are about, needs to start here with this band. This is about as melodic, symphonic and beautiful as it gets for me being able to withstand the growling male singer that complements the female singer. This disc defines the word epic in most cases, and words like "majestic," "regal" come to mind instantly. I admit that I am not a fan of these growling vocals, but I have not been able to put this disc down since I got it, and that says a lot for this type of music. Whether or not you?re looking for beauty, heaviness, gloomy, dark, atmospheric, symphonic music, it?s all here wrapped up into one incredible disc called Enter. The title says it all about this disc, it cries out to at least be heard and tested. My senses have not been the same since.


Tracklisting:
Restless (6:06) / Enter (7:11) / Pearls Of Light (5:14) / Deep Within (4:29) / Gatekeeper (6:41) / Grace (5:08) / Blooded (3:36) / Candles (7:05)

Musicians:
Sharon den Adel - vocals
Robert Westerholt - vocals, guitar
Martijn Westerholt - synthesizers
Ivar de Graaf - drums
Jeroen Van Deen - bass
Michael Papenhove - guitars
George Oosthoek (Orphanage) - additional vocals (4)
Lex Vogelarr (Orphanage) - guitars (3)
Guus Ikens (Orphanage) - synthesizer/sound advice

Discography:
Enter (1997)
The Dance (EP) (1997)
Mother Earth (2001)
Live On Air (2002)
The Silent Force (2005)
The Heart Of Everything (2007)
See Who I Am (EP) (2007)
The Howling (EP) (2007)
All I Need (EP) (2007)
Black Symphony (2008)
An Acoustic Night At The Theatre (2009)

Mother Earth Single (DVD) (2000)
Mother Earth Tour (DVD) (2002)
Stand My Ground (DVD) (2004)
The Silent Force Tour (DVD) (2005)
Black Symphony (DVD) (2008)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin NL

Added: July 2nd 2000
Reviewer: Larry "LarryD" Daglieri

Artist website: www.within-temptation.com
Hits: 706
Language: english

  

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