Rating:
6.2
Within Temptation - Hydra
31 January 2014


01. Let Us Burn
02. Dangerous [featuring Howard Jones]
03. And We Run [feat. Xzibit]
04. Paradise (What About Us?) [feat. Tarja Turunen]
05. Edge Of The World
06. Silver Moonlight
07. Covered By Roses
08. Dog Days
09. Tell Me Why
10. Whole World Is Watching [feat. Dave Pirner]
11. Radioactive [Imagine Dragons cover] [iTunes bonus]
12. Summertime Sadness [Lana del Ray cover] [iTunes bonus]
13. Let Her Go [Passenger cover] [iTunes bonus]
14. Dirty Dancer [Enrique Iglesias cover] [iTunes bonus]
15. And We Run [evolution track / audio commentary] [iTunes bonus]
16. Silver Moonlight [evolution track / audio commentary] [iTunes bonus]
17. Covered By Roses [evolution track / audio commentary] [iTunes bonus]
18. Tell Me Why [evolution track / audio commentary] [iTunes bonus]
+ Paradise (What About Us?) [feat. Tarja Turunen] [video] [iTunes premium bonus]


Most people have heard of the saying "If it ain't broke, don't fix it". Seems like Within Temptation are familiar with it too, as they've mostly stuck to their guns with the winning formula of 80's pop-influenced symphonic rock over soaring female vocals as per their previous album The Unforgiving, while trying to push the envelope a bit by featuring high profile performers in their latest album Hydra.

Though looking good on paper, every lover of music knows that this art form can't be judged solely on these tangibles. Yes, the type of music is more or less the same, the studio recordings of Sharon's vocals haven't dropped half a notch in quality, and the whole experience is as bombastic as ever, if not more. However, it feels as if the whole experience is completely bogged down by insipid song writing. Most melodic metal enthusiasts would have a hard time calling recent Within Temptation "metal enough", and let me make it clear that I am absolutely fine with it as long as the whole package is an enjoyable disc, as evidenced by my review of their previous attempt. In fact, those even taking a remote interest in the band would hardly expect these guys to churn out an album that's not radio-friendly. Still, the appearance of guest rapper Xzibit definitely caught me off-guard, and it's a nice little change that I would welcome more had the lyrics been more insightful than "yeah, we outta here".

That controversial track aside, the songs on Hydra are catchy as usual, but there's a distinction between good catchiness and bad. While it's not to the abysmal level of Rebecca Black's Friday in terms of annoyance, Robert Westerholt seemed to had been less inspired and most of the catchiness just feels more cheesy and awash with mediocrity, with the tracks feeling old already upon the first listen, and even cringe inducing at times as it really exposes the fact that there are hardly any memorable riffs present. Despite the typical siren wails of Tarja Turunen, the track "Paradise (What About Us?)" where she did the guest vocals is definitely a case of wasted talent and not playing to the operatic strengths of her singing, leaving those familiar with her performances in Nightwish wishing the collaboration had never happened. The only track that I feel the need to go back to is "Covered By Roses", but who'd buy an album for one 5-minute track?

As another popular saying goes, "With great power, there must also come great responsibility". The higher one climbs, the greater the need to live up to the expectations of fans. While my self-induced hype may have played a part in my judgement of Hydra, the vapid song writing, instead of the two minute rap or the band's target audience, is its major pitfall and can't be ignored, especially when we know what they are capable of.

Performance: 8
Songwriting: 5
Originality: 6
Production: 7


Band profile: Within Temptation
Album: Hydra


 



Written on 12.04.2014 by
Ag Fox
Ag Fox loves listening to music but is far from being a prolific writer. This corner just shows how territorial he is.
More reviews by Ag Fox ››

Staff review by
R Lewis

Rating:
8.4
Welcome the New Year with class - welcome the New Year with Within Temptation.

They tested a path of 80's rock and pop influences in 2011, but The Unforgiving brought them conflicting responses. 2014 signals a return to the heavier and more symphonic style we had the pleasure to listen to some years ago, but the soul of the last record hasn't been totally trashed, since the new album Hydra blends tradition and experimentation.

Read more ››
published 09.01.2014 | Comments (42)



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The Evergreen - 12.04.2014 at 19:57  
I think I may have just given up on Within Temptation. For me, every single album since Silent Force has a let down in some way, and even that was not as great as Mother Earth, which shall always occupy a hallowed spot in my CD library.
So there's a few songs I like here, but Xzibit was definitely the last straw. I hate rap with a passion born of the black heart of Satan, and while it can work with some stuff, flower metal is not such an example. I'd rather listen to Stones Grown Her Name for two weeks straight!
I hope their next is better.
K†ulu - 12.04.2014 at 21:52  
That's kind of how I feel about this album too. It seems that they were trying to compensate crappy songs with "grandiose" production, which, to me, is just a cheap trick. And, of course, the vocals are too high in the mix (again, because there is nothing going on in the background). Listened to this one because it was featured in Prog Rock Magazine, but I am utterly disappointed...
The Evergreen - 13.04.2014 at 07:51  
Written by K†ulu on 12.04.2014 at 21:52

Listened to this one because it was featured in Prog Rock Magazine...

Okay, not familiar at with Prog Rock magazine, but, um... Hmmm... I wonder why Within Temptation was in something called that...
K†ulu - 13.04.2014 at 10:23  
Written by The Evergreen on 13.04.2014 at 07:51

Written by K†ulu on 12.04.2014 at 21:52

Listened to this one because it was featured in Prog Rock Magazine...

Okay, not familiar at with Prog Rock magazine, but, um... Hmmm... I wonder why Within Temptation was in something called that...

Well, apparently "It's this blend of their familiar symphonic theatre with striking genre-spanning additions that, arguably, makes Within Temptation progressive in the truest, most modern sense." (you know, the Akerfeld-Portnoy definition of prog).
The Evergreen - 14.04.2014 at 07:08  
It's their magazine...
I'm still scratching my head.
Ag Fox - 14.04.2014 at 09:07  
Written by K†ulu on 13.04.2014 at 10:23

Well, apparently "It's this blend of their familiar symphonic theatre with striking genre-spanning additions that, arguably, makes Within Temptation progressive in the truest, most modern sense." (you know, the Akerfeld-Portnoy definition of prog).
Whether it's prog or not, it's still not a good album =P
mariano - 14.04.2014 at 23:25  
Written by Ag Fox on 14.04.2014 at 07:08

Most melodic metal enthusiasts would have a hard time calling recent Within Temptation "metal enough"

You've got that right. The band is still aiming for a broader audience. Although, I think it really doesn't work thus far, since they might win new fans but at the expense of loosing the old ones.

By the way, everyone complains about the collaboration with Xzibit (which is terrible, I know)... but did anyone notice they included an Enrique Iglesias cover as bonus track!?
quirin - 14.04.2014 at 23:56  
I liked this review. Well written, accurate and fair.
Ag Fox - 15.04.2014 at 00:05  
Written by mariano on 14.04.2014 at 23:25

Written by Ag Fox on 14.04.2014 at 07:08

Most melodic metal enthusiasts would have a hard time calling recent Within Temptation "metal enough"

You've got that right. The band is still aiming for a broader audience. Although, I think it really doesn't work thus far, since they might win new fans but at the expense of loosing the old ones.

By the way, everyone complains about the collaboration with Xzibit (which is terrible, I know)... but did anyone notice they included an Enrique Iglesias cover as bonus track!?
well... covers are meant to be fun and aren't usually taken seriously, and they are bonus tracks anyway, so I didn't really take them into account when reviewing. Besides, the rest of the cover tracks were all great chart successes, despite the names being relatively less well-known, so the Enriqye Iglesias cover isn't that out of place with the other covers. And as you said, the band is aiming for a broader audience, so these probably will help.

Either way, I don't mind their new direction, as long as the songs are well written, but it's not, unlike their previous album. Hydra as a whole, for me at least, has little replay value.

Written by quirin on 14.04.2014 at 23:56

I liked this review. Well written, accurate and fair.

Thanks
Surion - 16.05.2014 at 08:06  
I disagree with your review, maybe it's not their best but you didn't even mention the best tracks of the album: Silver Moonlight and Tell Me Why. Both are great tunes and brings back a part of the classic sound with gutural singing. As for the rap part, it´s the style of most rappers you can't blame Xzibit for doing what the majority of his peers do, plus I really enjoyed that song, felt like some fresh air. Of course not all songs are great, I didn't like that much The Whole World is Watching and Edge of the World...but overall I feel this album is a big step forward for the band.

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