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A Great Introduction to Gothic Metal - 88%

Earthbound93, July 31st, 2011

‘Enter’ is the debut album of the successful Dutch band Within Temptation. This is a Gothic metal album and it is a lot different from the modern Gothic metal/rock bands such us Lacuna Coil or even anything else that the band ever released (apart from the Dance EP). Here, we have a real Gothic metal with doom metal and symphonic metal elements following the ‘Beauty and the Beast’ technique.

The songs are relatively long and the compositions are quite inspired, all of them with great atmosphere. The song structures are not very complex, but still quite unpredictable and based on the alternation of female/male vocals and long instrumental parts. Giving quite a bit of space to the instrumental parts (for example, in the ’Gatekeeper’) turns out to be an advantage as it adds mystery and atmosphere. The guitar work is pretty decent with some nice riffs, granting the songs equal amounts of heaviness and dark atmosphere. The keyboards are also important here and are widely used, providing symphonic elements to the songs for a more complete sound.

As far as the vocals are concerned, Sharon den Adel really shines on the album, delivering well-executed non-operatic vocals in a mezzo-soprano range. She has an angelic voice, but is more down-to-earth compared to Liv Kristine. Here, her voice sounds pleasantly unripe, still pure and crystalline as always. Her job is great in both the Beauty and the Beast parts (‘Enter’, ‘Gatekeeper’, ‘Grace’, ‘Candles’) and the songs that only contain female vocals (‘Restless’, ‘Pearls of Light’). The harsh vocals are raw, but they lack technique and as a result they just sound average. ‘Deep Within’ may impress the listener because he will hear only harsh vocals in this song. Harsh and female vocals are combined well, especially when the two singers sing along the same lyrics.

The lyrics are very good in most of the songs, sincere and emotional, and they really fit the music. Although they are about the usual Gothic metal themes, the cliches (which you can find in the later WT songs) have been avoided. The song ‘Pearls of Light’ stands out for its lyrics as it contains some beautiful pictures from nature and bears a strong melancholic felling.

Unfortunately, this is not a flawless album. For instance, I personally find the ending of the song ‘Enter’ very unpleasant. Additionally, the song ‘Grace’ is quite weak, while the instrumental ‘Blooded’ is unnecessary.

The listener will not be bored during the 45 minutes of the album. Additionally, this album combines high quality with accessibility and as a result is highly recommended for those who are new to the genre. Highlights would be the songs ‘Restless’, ‘Candles’, ‘Gatekeeper’, and ‘Pearls of Light’.

‘Enter’ captures all the magic of the 90’s Gothic metal scene with strong, haunting melodies and dark atmosphere. Within Temptation didn’t intend to make a unique masterpiece with their debut, yet they managed to record an album that stands out for its purity, simplicity, and sincerity.

Without doubt, Within Temptation's best - 94%

TommyA, March 15th, 2011

Most of us heard of Within Temptation when "Ice Queen" was released off "Mother Earth". This album is clearly much different than their later albums. The reason why I think this is more or less the best Within Temptation offering? Because it's rather unique when compared to "The Silent Force" or "The Heart of Everything", where they could easily be mistaken for Evanescence or Nightwish. "Enter" is a darker offering than the rest; inclining more towards gothic/doom metal.

"Enter" focuses more around the music rather than the vocals. The instrumental sections are way longer than the lyrical ones. Nonetheless, fans of Sharon's vocals will not be disappointed. With the exception of "Deep Within" (which features solely male growls) and "Blooded" (an instrumental track), Sharon's vocals stand out beautifully. The growling is not unpleasant, thankfully. "Deep Within" and "Gatekeeper" are the two tracks in which they feature the most, and they're not half bad.

The music here is more doom than anything the band has every produced. The growls add to this. It's the complete opposite than, say, "Mother Earth", where the atmosphere is more or less a content one. "Enter" is much darker, both musically and lyrically. Whereas in their later offerings, the lyrics were based around love and nature, on "Enter", they revolve around darkness.

All in all, "Enter" is what I wish Within Temptation built their foundations upon. It is a solid release, and doesn't fall in the commercial trap which, unfortunately, is what Within Temptation are now known for. Two thumbs up for this one though.

Within temptation’s masterpiece.....by far! - 95%

Paganbasque, January 19th, 2010

Within temptation’s development has been a matter of discussion since its early days. When the band released “Mother Earth” some fans criticized the new sound, although still was an amazing work of gothic metal, quite soft, but maintaining a great quality. Even though suddenly this band lost all of their credibility and released and infamous album called "The Silent force", an embarrassing exercise of emulating bands like Evanescence and Nightwish.

Fortunately before they fell into disfavour with the metal scene Sharon and company released two great albums, specially the one I review, a masterpiece of gothic/doom metal called "Enter", sadly the only one which remains true to the genre. If we compare this album with other gothic/doom gems we can appreciate that the growls are not so prominent, mainly because in this debut Sharon commands most of the voices, but believe me, her performance here is absolutely awesome, her sweet, beautiful and fragile voice fits perfectly well with the music, shining specially in Restless and perhaps my favourite one, Candles, an amazing composition where you can dream helped by this angel’s voice. As I have mentioned the growls are few but well done, nothing spectacular but it gives the music the necessary strength and obscurity, Roberts reinforce the doomish atmosphere in songs like Enter. In Deep within, perhaps the most heaviest one, George Oosthoek of Orphanage adds some brutal vocals making this song a highlight.

But Enter is not great only because Sharon’s work. Far from the new metallic pop-rock guitars of later albums, which simplicity and lack of any harmony is embarrassing, in this album we can find the only guitar work in WT’s career which deserver some respect. Ok, this is not technical or complex metal, but at least we find some heavy riffs and melodies adding some density to the songs. A quite remarkable moment is the initial riff of Deep Within, a perfect example of what I have commented, it’s simple but quite addictive and more important, metallic. Don’t try to find anything comparable on the next albums because you will irremediably lose your time.

Overall, this album is fantastic from the very beginning to the end, with no clear flaws (perhaps too few growls?), an excellent and clear production and one of the best and most sensual covers I have ever seen in the gothic scene. It’s really a shame to see how WT lost its way only to obtain fame and money.

Within Temptation's Crowning Achievement - 18%

Jiri777, July 29th, 2009

Within Temptation has been a pathetic excuse for a “metal” band for a number of years now. For the most part, their music can be described as gothic pop soft rock with a hint of metal. On “Enter”, the music is definitely the most metallic and is definitely the best.

The musical set up on this album is classic “beauty and the beast”. However, the beauty here is far from beautiful. Sharon Den Adel may be a beautiful woman, but her vocals here and every other Within Temptation album is horrific (IMO). She sounds like a cat being squeezed in a vice; its eyes popping out of its head; its brains oozing out of its mouth; screeching for its life. Seriously, imagine Avril Lavigne in a metal band. The combination does not mix well. Sharon sings in a high-pitched wail, missing note after note. She is so off key and sings like a pop star. Her voice is very hard to take seriously in a metal band.

The male vocalist is an average death growler. He supplies his beast vocals with little passion here. However, his presence helps this album from being a complete vocal failure. His vocals actually fit the doomy feel of the music. He definitely should have been the lone vocalist on “Enter” but the band decided they would make more money by adding the pop soprano.

Guitars are standard of the death doom genre. They are no My Dying Bride, but they write solid riffs and execute them nicely. They have a gothic feel and have great atmosphere.

Speaking of gothic, there are violins present on “Enter”. On the title track, they are utilized very well with the music creating a great atmospheric sound. The main melody on this track is very beautiful, but Sharon’s voice fails to be in tune with the violins.

The drums here are weak. They are just a background noise that does not stand out at all. I am not a drummer, but the simple drumming on “Enter” is probably doable for me. Un-complex drumming with no variance or time signature changes.

The tracks on “Enter” are varied. Some songs like “Restless” are just pop rock songs with absolutely no metal whatsoever. Other songs like the title track are very well written songs that contain a nice mixture of metal and gothic atmosphere. “Deep Within” is a classic death doom metal song with no input from Sharon or atmosphere. The last two mentioned songs are the best here. The other songs are boring or not written well. They are a blend of unmemorable riffing and vocal parts. And again, some songs are really lame like “Restless”.

In conclusion, “Enter” is the best release from this band by far and it’s far from perfect. The metal world really did not need this band to rape it of its pride or any of its ilk to follow its path. Within Temptation is very unwelcome here in my opinion. Any “metal” band that puts a pop soprano in their band to make money is shit and should be slaughtered brutally. I only reviewed this album because it still has a trace of metal and some of it is worth listening to. Boycott this band’s other releases and you probably shouldn’t waste money on this one either. Stay true to metal!

Am I the only person who hates this? - 34%

Nightsward, November 14th, 2008

I listened to this album a year ago, when I was still new to metal, gothic and symphonic in particular, lured by the pretty interesting looking cover. And to be honest, it really captured my senses back then. Heck, I probably listened to the thing once per day.

Fast forward to a year later.

By then, I had dug deeper. I discovered other treasures like Tristania, After Forever, Theatre of Tragedy, and many others. They all set the scene nicely, letting me marvel at their angelic female vocals, powerful growling, and most of all, the dark, depressive atmosphere created by the instruments. But at some point, I rediscovered this album after sifting through my music collection. I didn’t remember a whole lot, really, and that made me want to listen to this again. I geared up all my courage, and started listening attentively, although I was supposed to be working on an extremely important project.

What a waste of forty-five minutes.

To be honest with you, I would have been far better off doing my work than deciding to even listen to this pile of general crap. The general musicianship is rather mediocre. Yes, you occasionally get a decent riff or two, but then it gets played over and over and over again (as in throughout the entire song), and it immediately loses its impact (to put it mildly). At its worst points, one or two riffs are played throughout the ENTIRE song. The keyboards, however, help manage to keep the entire thing floating, but nothing is particularly outstanding in that field, and it falls into the same generic, boring patterns. Bass is occasionally audible, but barely. Only a rabbit fitted with hearing aids could hear it even partially clearly. The drums? Don’t ask. My opinion is that something went wrong with the mixing (listen to the album to see what I mean), and nothing stands out there.

The vocalists’ performance doesn’t stand out either. Sharon den Adel’s vocal performance is decent and rather beautiful at times, but once again, her voice has nothing that makes it stand out from many other female vocalists, from Floor Jansen to Liv Kristine to Tarja Turunen, and yes, even Amy Lee in some way, for god’s sake. And don’t even get me started on the growling. Whoever performed those atrocious “growls” did not deserve to be given a recording contract. Variety? Alternation between growling and harsher screaming? Forget it. And, to add something else, this guy has an accent. Yes, I know that some other decent growlers have accents, but they are well concealed, or so insignificant that they are easily overlooked. Not here. The accents are so pronounced that someone with half an ear could hear it. And somehow, the growling makes him sound like an illiterate.

Next thing in the recipe of disaster: some of the cheesiest lyrics in lyrical history. I’ll paste some lyrics from “Grace” for your viewing pleasure:

“Cold are the bones of thy soldiers
Longing for home, their little paradise
I don't feel redemption on their side”

Fortunately, at times the lyrics are not as bad, such as the ones in “Restless” or “Candles.”

So what do you get for a general performance? Boring, repetitive songs with so little appeal that it’s almost sad. I would even be shedding tears, if it weren’t for the fact that they suddenly decided to make money off their career that the masses would suck up.

I will be generous, though, and point out a few good things. In my opinion, Within Temptation did a decent job with the atmosphere. The keyboards and vocals keep the entire thing afloat with the dark atmosphere they’re supposed to convey, and if it weren’t for those things, I would have immediately erased all traces of their existence by now. Also, I find the almost-but-not-quite epicness of “Candles” appealing. The guitars and keyboards work very well together here, the growls don’t kill the song, and if not for that boring repetitivety AGAIN, I would mark this song somewhere in the middle nineties. If the rest of the songs in this heap of trash were this good, I’d take some time to actually BUY this album, instead of downloading it. (Yes, I downloaded it.) The “good” songs had a few good points (they kept the melancholy atmosphere, all right), but all of them were ruined by overrepetitivety and awful vocalization, along with other factors.

So overall, this album is simply FAR too overrated. If you’re looking for decent gothic metal, I beg of you, don’t start with this: this is the epitome of bad music in general. If you will allow me, I would like to direct you towards Tristania’s first album for melancholy and general beauty. Also, have a look at After Forever, its cousin Epica, beauty and beast (singing and growling) pioneers Theatre of Tragedy, and many others. Anyone in the zone of this album, steer clear. It’s not worth it.

Not mother earth, but... - 90%

ruigeroeland, October 8th, 2004

The debut album of WITHIN TEMPTATION, released in 1997 and containing all the songs of their demo recordings, is nothing like MOTHER EARTH. Although it’s almost as brilliant, this album is far more metal in comparison to their well-known second offering. First off all: the riffing is more heavy, but the most striking difference between ENTER and MOTHER EARTH is the use of male death growls (performed by George Oosthoek from ORPHANAGE).

So, grunting and angelic female vocals? Is this another mediocre beauty-and-the-beast Gothic-Metal record? Definitely not, because the band’s strong song-writing lifts the album far above the average Gothic-Metal offering. And off-course there is also Sharon den Adel’s stunning voice, which alone would make for a more than pleasant listen.

Although the “heavy” and faster tracks like (for example) “Deep Within” and the instrumental track “Blooded” are quality tracks that absolutely rock, the band reaches it’s peaks on the calmer tracks. Take for example the brilliant opening track Restless, which starts out with Sharon singing over a piano (with the band kicking in after the two-minute mark) or the beautiful closing-track Candles.

Highlight of the album is in my opinion the doomy second track, Enter, which starts out with a cool sample “welcoming us in someone’s home”. And welcome us they do, with Sharon enchanting us with her voice.

In conslusion: this album may not be as good as MOTHER EARTH, but the ability to create great composition is already apparent on this release, making it a must-have for all fans of female-fronted metal, fans of WITHIN TEMPTATION (like me) and music lovers in general.

Originally written for: http://www.metal-observer.com/