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"The Silent Force", this album was the third album released by Dutch symphonic metal band "Within Temptation". And as I've stated in all my WT reviews, this band's sound changes for each album. They started as a symphonic doom metal band with an eerie mysterious sound. This later evolved into a lighter more organic symphonic metal for the release of "Mother Earth", then came this. This particular album seemed to be WT's generic symphonic rock era, before they added more gothic elements and later still, electronic pock rock elements.
The vocals are nothing short of amazing, they're powerful and beautiful. Sharon den Adel never fails to impress. Her vocals are always way up in the mix, but for this album they aren't as so. The singing of course accompanied by epic orchestration and nice heavy guitar riffs. You don't hear them a much as other things, but the guitars are there. The drummer does his job, keeping time and adding energy to the music. And the bass is usually never heard, as goes for most WT albums.
The problem with this album is that the beginning of the album (probably the first five tracks) are amazing songs. They're powerful, catchy, and beautiful. But then the songs start to fall flat. if this album was just a six track EP of the first five songs, i would give it 100% because those recordings are just so amazing. But the other songs just bring the album down. The album as a whole is still great, but the songs themselves are on a total different chart. If you're a fan of "Within Temptation" or te genre I recommend this album. if you're into female fronted metal, this album is also for you. It's a great album.
Highlights: See Who I Am, Jillian (I'd Give My Heart), Stand My Ground, Forsaken, & Angels
I was sceptic about getting this, since I feared it would be in the same veins as "Mother Earth", even though the artwork made it look slightly more promising and less cheesy. I was quite impressed. Although they sound quite similar to Evanescence, it's certainly a huge step forward. "The Silent Force" shows that Within Temptation have potential after all.
The opening songs give you a clear picture of what to expect - plenty of orchestrations and choirs throughout (having said that, I hate it when opening songs are called "Intro"). From there onwards, "The Silent Force" is one of the most enjoyable albums I've ever heard. Sharon has finally gotten down to singing in one tone. No more vocal shifts like on "Mother Earth". There are no forced grounds, like those on "Caged". Sharon's voice is fantastic, and this album does nothing but confirm that.
"The Silent Force" has an undeniable pop feel to it. It's very far from metal, with only a few songs being remotely close ("Stand My Ground", "It's The Fear" to name a few). This is obviously where this loses points. From a pop rock point of view, it would probably get full points for me, but not from a metal perspective. I would not recommend it to fans of gothic metal (Tristania, Sirenia, Epica), since it's anything but close.
Looking at the album track by track, the album is rather varied. There are 3 ballads in the standard edition, and 4 in the digipack. Since I am not a big fan of ballads, I'd skip most of them. "Pale" lives up to its name...being rather bland and boring. "Somewhere" is easily the worst track on the album, and "The Swan Song" is mediocre, at best. "Memories" is the only ballad which is worth listening to here.
It's not all bad news though. In fact, there's more good than bad. The first 3 tracks of the album (not counting the introductory song) are 3 of their best songs to date (the album version of "Stand My Ground" is way better than the single version). The rest of the album is more or less at the same level. My favourite tracks off this album are "Jillian", "Forsaken" and "It's The Fear". I'd also recommend buying the Roadrunner release, since the two bonus tracks are also among the best tracks here.
"The silent force" would have been a better name for the previous and very spiritual folk album "Mother Earth" as this album here presents a completely new face of Within Temptation.
Sure, there are still a few soft ballads like the inspiring "Memories" or the closing "Somewhere", but they have not the same spiritual and natural tranquility that the last album had. While the last album concentrated ony on a few instruments and the voice, thsi new album concentrates even more on the voice but adds more and more classical instruments and orchestrations to the sound. Within Temptation literally become a "symphonic" metal band.
Indeed, we have to talk about metal as most of the songs follow the pattern of the hit singles such as "Ice queen". There are more guitars, more hooklines and more catchy sing alongs. That is not a bad thing, it is just different and more commercial from what the band has done before. Songs like "Stand my ground" or "It's the fear" have some heavy guitars and are focused on a very catchy chorus.
And while the patterns are predictable, the procedure works well and the album is much easier to approach and has at least six or seven potential hit singles from which the band finally chose four. If you add the calmer songs like like "Somewhere" or rather modern songs like "Aquarius" to those catchy songs you have already got a more diversified album as the previous one that is maybe less unique but more compatible fr the masses. Add to this that there are no long or epic songs on this short and sweet album.
Personally, I got an easier and better approach to this album. Once again, the singles like "Stand my ground" or the beautiful "Angels" are really addicting and convinced me once again to give this band another try which I regreted less than the last time. But from an objective point of view the previous one was way more special and that's why I give it the same rating.
I still remember when I first listened to Within Temptation; it was my first year in college and up until that point I had never really been exposed to any kind of gothic metal. A friend who was pretty heavy into gothic metal introduced me to them along with a plethora of other gothic metal and related bands. I can’t quite remember which album the song was from, but I know it wasn’t from The Silent Force. Now that I think of it, the song was probably from Mother Earth. In any case, it immediately caught my attention and I decided to pursue other works of the band.
After getting a hold of their studio album discography, I sat down and gave each album a good listen. While I certainly enjoyed their first two albums, I was taken back when I started listening to The Silent Force; the album just screamed awesome to me, and it remained in my car’s CD player for weeks.
The album catches quite a lot of flak due to its similar sound to Evanescence and the band “selling out”. While I cannot deny there is a similarity to Evanescence’s sound, I believe it’s different enough to avoid any major bashing, and I personally don’t know how people can confuse the two (I’ve seen it done). The issue of whether they sold out or not is another topic entirely.
What sets this album apart for me is the vocals. It’s what propels the album forward and over its shortcomings. In every song, Sharon does a remarkable job of convincing the listener that the song is real. She inserts so much passion and emotion, the songs all sound authentic, while stepping up the energy on the faster songs. To me this is rarely achieved in music. That’s not to say there isn’t plenty of emotion in songs, because many people use music as a way of expression, but I haven’t seen it achieved to this level very often. To me, that means a lot, and what really attracts me to this album, and after listening to The Silent Force, Sharon is easily one of my favourite female vocalists in metal.
The vocals are so good they overshadow the mediocrity of the instruments. There’s nothing exceptional whatsoever on this album in terms of guitar, bass or drums, but that doesn’t take away much; as mentioned before, the vocals manage to outweigh any downsides of the instruments. You’re not going to listen to this album (or Within Temptation at all, for that matter) for the instruments; you’re going to listen for the vocals of Sharon. At least I do, anyway. A lot of the album is just the vocals and drums anyway, which is certainly a good thing. Many people will argue that vocalists are another instrument in the band, and the vocals are “music” as well. For the most part, I disagree, but there always exists some exceptions. Within Temptation is one of those exceptions; the vocals actually contribute to the music of the album. When I hear Sharon sing on this album, I feel like I’m listening to music.
Like the vocals, the lyrics are also quite enjoyable. I’m not quite sure why they’re labelled as emo; since when is singing about love and loss considered to be emo? The amusing part of all this is the ones who are labelling it as emo and “gay”, don’t even know what emo is. Furthermore, they immediately come off as the stereotypical metalhead who thinks all metal is about death and Satan, which is of course wrong. This assumption may very well be wrong, but the assumption is not without merit. There is no reason why metal cannot be used to sing about love. As was just stated, the lyrical themes of the album primarily surround love and loss. Based on the fantastic vocal delivery of Sharon, I’m going to presume she was the primary writer behind the lyrics.
The lack of guitar and/or bass isn’t really a problem. The elaborate melodies and compositions of the orchestrations make up for any missing guitars. Now that I’ve listened to The Silent Force as many times as I have, I find it difficult to go back to their previous releases and enjoy them on the same level I originally had.
The album is not perfect. There are a few downsides. As already mentioned, the mediocre instruments are there, but this minor flaw can be dismissed without any further thought. There is one other accompanying disadvantage of this album: the excess amount of ballads and their placement. The slow songs on the album aren’t bad per se. It’s how they’re placed on the track listing that bothers me. The first three tracks (minus the little intro) are high energy and fast paced.
As the album progresses, the energy that was once being enjoyed is now lost among the slower songs. The energy attempts to recuperate with Forsaken and Angels, and again towards the end with It’s the Fear, but to no avail, and the speed of the first half of the album is lost. Perhaps the placement of the songs was done like this on purpose, but I feel it takes away from the album; however, it is only a minor annoyance and can be disregarded when the album is viewed as a whole.
Overall the album is a very enjoyable listen. I believe the impressive vocal performance of Sharon is what makes this album so great, and is why I continuously listen to it and do not become bored. The shortcomings of the album are forgettable and can be tolerated when you hear Sharon sing.
Based on the (rather negative) reviews of the new single, the new album is going to sound similar to this one, which makes me happy. To many it won’t, but to each his own. Based on The Silent Force, I look forward to the release of the new album.
People who live in Brazil, enjoy listening to heavy metal and have sensible hearing do admit: Sharon den Adel voice's is very, VERY similar to one of the aforementioned country's most popular singers, known by the name of Sandy. Very high, "soft" and with an undeniable "poppy" quality attached to it.
den Adel's main feature is just one of the elements that could qualify Within Temptation not just as a metal band, but also as a pop rock one. And in this CD, "The Silent Force", this quality is even more noticeable. It seems the band has been tuned to what's new in metal and it's almost impossible not to make a comparison with "american popgoths" Evanescence.
The track that really starts this CD, "See Who I Am" (just after the intro) shows that Within Temptation have a clear intention to conquer the world. Although it's strong and heavy, it's also very catchy (familiar, heh?). "Julian (I'd Give my Heart)" follows that same theme, just like "Stand my Ground".
When "Pale" begins, things get a little different. This time, there's a celtic melody, an electronic beat and Sharon singing. I guess it would be right to label "Pale" as this CD's first ballad. But then, "Forsaken" starts off, a song which is similar to "See Who I Am" and "Julian". Still the mixture of heaviness and popiness which lead bands such as Lacuna Coil to a stardom they had never known before. The next track, "Angels", is not different either.
"Memories", another ballad, is a little more dynamic than "Pale", but features the same elements: Sharon's voice, electronicness and medieval melodies. "Aquarius" is a more "heavy-gothic" song, probably one of the best off this CD. "It's the Fear" is also very alike, while "Somewhere" is the third ballad off "The Silent Force".
The bonus tracks: "A Dangerous Mind", is ghost-like and nice, very WithinTemptation-ish. "The Swan Song" (not the most original name to a closure song, but anyway...) is another beautiful ballad.
Although "The Silent Force" is kind of poppish, it looks like the band has finally found a suitable identity, which can be listened throughout the entire record. It's also lovely how Sharon den Adel manages to sing really high without going operatical, which definitely sets her apart from most women who sing in the gothic metal genre. I could say this release is better than "Mother Earth", because it's much more coherent amongst itself. It's good fun and you can bang your head while listening to it, but if you're a die-hard metal fan who won't admit pop being mixed into metal, then DON'T buy nor download this CD, because you'll want to smash it onto your walls (either the CD or your hard drive).
Best songs: "See Who I Am", "Julian", "Stand my Ground" and "Aquarius".
Within Temptation have been compared many times to Nightwish, there is a similarity in that they are a female fronted rock/metal band, but don’t expect too much similarity. If you go in expecting the same heaviness as Within Temptation then you will be surprised. There are the same atmospheric keyboards but the rest of the instruments take a back seat completely and remain firmly in the background as the beautiful vocals of Sharon Den Adel take over. For once, the short Kerrang review snippet got it right ‘Extravagant, Hopelessly romantic Pop Metal at it’s Best’. This is romantic gothic pop metal. Now that’s out of the way, onto the album itself…
Right from the start, The Silent Force undoubtedly a hugely enjoyable listening experience. After hearing a couple of songs from the album I decided to splash out on the whole album and I don’t regret it. Beginning at the intro with its keyboards and vocal demonstrations, you know what you’re in for.
Then blasts out what is a riff as heavy as this album gets for “See Who I Am” and the whole song follows suite, a great opener where Den Adel’s voice is impressive in a heavier track. Then onto the real vocal demonstration of “Jillian (I’d Give My Heart) where Adel really shines. This song is an indication of what Within Temptation are all about! Vocally stunning songs with catchy keyboard riffs.
However the single “Stand My Ground” follows next, the album’s first single and this is to be honest a showstopper of a song! Again the subtle keyboards open this but soon step back as Adel comes in. The chorus is catchy and the commercial side really shows, but so does Adel’s ability, she can really belt it out and has a heck of a lot of power behind that voice of hers.
“Pale” and “Forsaken” follow, both strong tracks that continue the trend of the album. Then follows the second single “Angels” a more ballad type of song, where the vocals are once again great. Proving she can do both the more showstopper like tracks and the ballads. She proves that again on what is the softest track on the whole album “Memories” which is again a beautiful song.
“Aquarias” is breaks this trend and is slightly heavier and more atmospheric. “It’s the Fear” does the same and these are two of the strongest tracks on the album. “Somewhere” follows, it’s ok but I smell filler. The UK edition however features two bonus demo tracks, which I was glad to pick up for the same price as the edition without this. “Destroyed” sounds good, and you can really tell it’s not finished yet as the producing on it could be better, but despite that manages to be great. “Jane Doe” again a demo leaves you feeling the same, despite not quite matching up to it’s predecessor!
All in all this is an over the top, romantic gothic and atmospheric album. If you like that style you’ll like it, if you like it heavy it’s unlikely. Within Temptation are a softer and more commercial than Nightwish, but less so than Evanesance say. They lie somewhere in between. But one things for sure, this album does pack the punch and it is worth the money, buy it!
Above all, we aren’t facing a metal album, but instead a pop/rock one, with lots of elements of goth atmospheric music and classical music. The songs sustain themselves on the amazing soaring vocals by Sharon den Adel, which we already knew from previous releases, and in the beautiful, yet repetitive, melodies.
We can view this album as another step on the downward spiral the dutch band has been doing with it’s sound: “doomier” at first (Enter, The Dance), now very commercial indeed. Behind this may be the change of record company, sustained on the grounds they already stood with the successful Mother Earth and the adequateness of this kind of sound in the present.
Though all the criticism I already made, I have to honestly say I actually enjoyed listening to this album, because above all I keep an open mind and because it really is hard to define what is “Gothic” Metal, when we have something like Lacuna Coil, in one of the sides, and really good Norse bands like Theatre of Tragedy (the doom albums) or Tristania on the other hand. But the fact that most tracks sound similar (and those who don’t are really the worst, like “It’s the fear” and “Stand my ground” itself) and that the commercial aspects were put above sheer quality and sound diversity, and after having heard the guitars and drums being engulfed in the amount of orchestral and programming sounds, I have to somehow penalize the band.
Highlights: See who I am, Jillian, Pale, Aquarius
I remember the first time I heard Within Temptation; it was a small clip from "Mother Earth", which I was drawn to download after learning that the vocalist was the same Sharon den Adel who appeared on Avantasia. I walked into a CD store yesterday and over a year after I heard the that and a few other clips, saw 'The Silent Force' sitting on the shelves (unsurprisingly, the only copy). I don't think it hurts to mention - again - that to find good metal CDs for the type of music I like is a VERY big thing. They're so rare here in Nepal.
Right, let's move on to the CD itself, which is beautifully designed. The cover looks like something out of some dark fantasy movie, revealing very little about the band. That's actually an element we see throughout this record. No, not the dark fantasy part, the part about things being beautifully designed. This is an 'enhanced CD', with more than just the 13 tracks, but we'll get to that later.
When I popped in the CD, what I expected was metal with orchestral elements and meaty riffs (yes, and soft vocals), and a few songs to headbang to. What I got was something a bit - different. My Macintosh opened up a folder from inside the CD that included a visual interface with different options, one of which was to view the video for "Stand My Ground". My feelings were mixed. On the one hand, the song was very well mixed and produced, and every detail of the presentation has clearly been attended. On the other, when the vocals start, you might say, "Wait, isn't Within Temptation a metal band?" There's some digital (electronic) music backing effects to support the very plain vocals that, quite frankly, sound weak in this track. The song picks up to a catchy chorus, and you instantly realize this is one of those 'easy' songs with a pop-ish tune. Okay, so I was expecting something different. Am I dissapointed? Somewhat, but it was more of a surprise. Do I like this release? Read on...
Within Temptation are, apparently, different from what I normally listen to, which which happens to be songs with fast, meaty guitar riffs, even faster double-bass drumming, melodic solos and, well... powermetal in the veins of Gamma Ray, Iron Savior and Edguy. This is different. You won't find ripping solos here and the orchestration and effects add more feeling to the songs than the riffs do, for the most part. A word about the orchestration - it's not programmed, and it isn't keybaords - it's the real thing. A full-fledged orchestral setting with a million (or so it seems) instruments. Expect in the weaker songs, Sharon's vocals is really nice.
I've learnt in time that comparing bands just doesn't work, so you obviously don't listen to WT because it has a female vocalist and you like how Nightwish is with a female vocalist. Nightwish is not 'goth', it's power and melodic (with meaty riffs and sometimes the double-bass drumming that I love so). 'The Silent Force', at times, sounds synthetic... over-produced. I don't exactly like this, but it's something different, and I'm always open to change.
After listening to this CD for some time, you understand that you enjoy it best when you don't have any expectations for it. After all, there are some excellent songs like "See Who I Am", "Forsaken" (which has that 'Mother Earth' feel to it), "Angels" and "The Swan Song". i feel these songs capture the spirit of WT best.
So, what do I think of "The Silent Force", overall? It's good; I'd recommend buying it. But before you do, just forget anything you thought you knew about this band. Yes, they do seem to be wanting to reach out to more people (beyond the realms of metal, for example) - but for a change of , for light listening only (aka, light metal), it's a great release. I'm no fan of this band, and considering the type of music they've adopted, I doubt I'll ever be, but the thing about this release is - it's fun to listen to. Except for a few songs like "Pale" and "Aquarius", which I wished they didn't cram in.
There's more to this buy, though. This edition, as I mentioned earlier, is an 'enhanced CD', which allows it to pack in more than just audio. This the first CD I've come across where the band has really worked to make the 'enhanced' part as great as the production of their songs, videos and artwork. Put it in your computer's CD drive and you'll get access to the beautifully designed graphical interface, making way for the excellently crafted video for "Stand My Ground", behind the scenes footage, an interactive gallery of professionally-shot photographs of the band and a screensaver for Mac and Windows - things you'd normally expect in a DVD release.
I'll rate this release in two parts. As a metal release for the ears of a metalhead, it's a 2/5 release. As a CD for light listening, though - with its great production, experiments and just some other fun elements - it's a 4/5.