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I always knew and felt that Within Temptation were a creative and promising band with some good and innovating ideas. Even though I don't adore any of their albums, I think that every output they have released has a special and unique flow and a couple of addicting, inspiring and catchy songs. Now the band decided to work on a conceptual album based on a comic book. The interesting artwork, the great booklet and several well done short films complete the ambitious musical project and are really promising.
The sad thing is that the most important thing, the music itself, is rather ordinary and sounds like faceless radio rock music that could also come from Lacuna Coil or Evanescence. When the band released the soft and boring "Where Is The Edge" I thought that it was the ballad and commercial single approach of the upcoming record but it eventually represented the band's new style in a quite accurate way. The Dutch focus on keyboards samples, computer drums and some cheesy orchestrations as well as on catchy and easy choruses. The vocals sound though more grounded and confident than before but musically, this album is a downfall. Many potential hit singles can be found in the first half of the album such as "Shot In The Dark" or "Faster" that may easily hit the European discotheques and take them by storm. The band almost completely abandons its majestic and energetic symphonic metal style and is clearly influenced by the pop and rock music of the eighties. But they should not have gone living in the past because Within Temptation will never write hooks like ABBA. This release may easily be a shock and big challenge for any fan of the band.
It's only in the very end of the record that the Dutch go a little bit back to their roots but even then, they sound more like a poppy mixture of After Forever and Unheilig and can't fully convince even in better tracks like "Murder" and "Stairway To The Skies".
This is a commercial concept album without any edges. I miss melodic and emotional guitar solos. I miss smooth and introspective passages. I miss majestic and epic orchestral tracks. I miss in fact everything I liked about this band. Instead of growing on me, the album gets weaker every time I listen to it. In the beginning, the somewhat original lyrical concept and the bonus videos made a great impression and turned my attention away from the weak song writing but as I now only focus on the music; I have to realize that this is by far the band's weakest release. Even the bonus tracks are faceless, commercial and redundant. I really have no problem with bands changing their style and trying out something smoother and more commercial but Within Temptation lose their identity in here and simply don't have the class and image of their successful pop idols. I am still surprised that this album didn't get a lower rating on the archives but it may be only a question of time if there are still some folks out there that care about this band after the release of this assimilated sucker and a four year long wait for nothing. The few points I give are for the catchy choruses, the lyrics, the artwork and the videos but one might consider that some of those things are done by authors and movie makers and not even by the band itself which is the reason why those sidekicks can't rate this record up by much.