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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.