The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world




JANUARY 31 2014



January 31 sees the release of the sixth studio album from Dutch symphonic metal legends Within Temptation, and as you can probably imagine Hydra is a complex and many headed beast. Produced by Daniel Gibson, Hydra sees Within Temptation running the gamut of musical styles.


Guitarist and songwriter Robert Westerholt has said in the lead up that “‘Hydra’ is a perfect title for our new album, because like the monster itself, the record represents the many different sides of our music…it’s the most powerful album we’ve ever made, and it has some amazing and totally unexpected collaborations. We can’t wait for you to hear it!” And he’s right – this just could be the culmination of everything that has come before.


Overall ‘Hydra’ is a great album and starts off with a great track in ‘Let Us Burn’ Musically of course we are in strong Melodic Metal territory. With a strong guest list on the album - experimentation starts early with second track which feature’s ex-Killswitch Engage’s Howard Jones – it’s a great Metal-edged track that is perfectly in-keeping with the rest of the album. Similarly the quite wonderfully symphonic ‘Paradise’ (the first single) with Tarja sharing vocals with Sharon is stunningly good.


Elsewhere such experimentation is more, how can we say, hit and miss. ‘And We Run’ which features rapper Xzibit is rather like finding a steaming turd in the middle of a beautiful birthday cake. Just because rappers, bereft of ideas, have been plundering the rock catalogue for years does not mean that you invite them in to ruin one of your strongest songs. Some will enjoy it I’m sure, but it’s neither original nor well-executed. The rap adds nothing to the song and even though I’ve long thought rap to be the lowest common denominator in music I fail to appreciate the reasoning behind such a badly-judged move, I mean it’s been done to death already and the spoken word on ‘Covered by Roses’ is far more in-keeping and atmospheric. Let’s just move on…    

Elsewhere the album is perfectly enjoyable and most surprising of all is closing track ‘Whole World is Watching’ which features Soul Asylum’s Dave Pirner delivering a remarkably soulful vocal that just meshes so well with Sharon’s. It’s almost like a soaring James Bond theme song, very cinematic.


Hydra is a great album and it sees Within Temptation opening up and accepting more mainstream influences into their sound. Now as I said that works to a point, It’s certainly not a Symphonic Gothic Masterpiece like ‘Enter’ (but I guess few now would expect that anyway), it’s far more accessible but there are times like on ‘Silver Moonlight’ where you are solidly reminded of the back catalogue. Strangely that tune is also my favourite track – not necessarily for that reason, more for the fact its del Adel’s best vocal, and just that it’s a great song.  


It will be more interesting perhaps to see how ‘Hydra’ is accepted by long-time fans than any other group. I can respect a band for trying to push the boundaries, and I can even accept experimentation for experimentations sake, just never expect everything to work.  At least Within Temptation is taking their chances. Long may they continue to do so.


by Mark Diggins