Music Review: Hydra, Within Temptation

Within TemptationThe greatly-anticipated Hydra finally arrived in February, and it does not disappoint. Splendidly packaged within a booklet of stunning photography, including some candid behind-the-scenes shots of the band, and a second disc of no less than eight bonus tracks, those of us lucky enough to lay our hands on the Deluxe Edition were certainly in for a treat. From the passionate opening track Let Us Burn to the departing notes of Whole World Is Watching, Within Temptation has once again gripped us in a haunting world of stunning melodic beauty. After their last album, The Unforgiving, proved to be such a breakaway success, it was uncertain which direction the next album would take. While Hydra quite definitely has a quality all of its own, there is perhaps a hint of the older style we became so accustomed to from The Silent Force and The Heart of Everything. This should by no means be seen as moving backwards however, as each track delivers its own unique blend of heavy drama and operatic elegance. With guest performances from Tarja Turunen, Xzibit, Dave Pirner, and Howard Jones, we are treated to several tracks with harmonizing vocals that join Sharon den Adel, for the first time since Keith Caputo took up a mik beside her for What Have You Done.

HydraWhile there are, as with any album, some tracks that are weaker than others, they are all strong, and opinions on which are the front runners are likely to vary depending upon the individuals’ preference for heavier tracks versus lighter. As with most of Within Temptation’s albums, Hydra contains a healthy mix, meaning both camps will be more than satisfied, but everyone is likely to find one or two that disappoint. Given the difficulty of finding a half-way decent album in today’s crowded market, to say that there are only one or two tracks that may disappoint is high praise indeed. The standout track for this reviewer is quite definitely And We Run, featuring Xzibit, which has a lingering serenity that refuses to let go long after you’ve stopped listening. This is swiftly followed by Silver Moonlight, with its contagious, aggressive energy, and the dark and ominous tones of Dog Days. Finally, Whole World Is Watching, featuring Dave Pirner, offers lyrics which resonated deeply, with a simultaneously uplifting and somber quality that is not to be overlooked.

Within Temptation’s uniquely symphonic brand of metal is still going from strength to strength, and it is without doubt that their upcoming tour will be as successful as previous years’—especially with Delain supporting. What more could we metal-heads possibly need?

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