• Within Temptation - The Silent Force

    27 nov 2006, 02:06

    It really isn't metal... - 70%
    Written originally for Encyclopedia Metallum on August 2nd, 2005

    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

    Within Temptation
    The Silent Force
    See Who I Am
    Stand My Ground
    It's the Fear
  • Anathema - A Natural Disaster

    22 okt 2006, 02:48

    Great Melancholic Rock - 88%
    Written originally for encyclopaedia metallum on October 30th, 2005

    The Cavanagh brothers’ former doom metal band continues their quest to sound different by the record, that may now be defined as some melancholic atmospheric rock, emulating Pink Floyd in their ambience a few times.

    The songs have few signs of metal, except Pulled Under At 2000 Metres A Second and Violence (this one until 4:30 or so), being generally characterized by the use of lots of atmospheric sounds and a crescendo in their delivery of sound and instrumental usage throughout their lengths. There are also some progressive rock moments here and then.

    The lyrics are melancholic and depressing, and the choruses are repeated a lot. Danny’s vocals usually transmit us pure sadness, making us feel somewhat depressed in most of the tracks, but there’s also some anger, like in Pulled Under.
    Despite they aren’t playing metal anymore; we are facing an actually very good album, like there aren’t many around.

    Harmonium: This markedly atmospheric track is the one that sounds the most like Pink Floyd. The sound grows on all along the track, with the progressive increase on the drums and on Danny’s voice, showing more and more emotion. Rounding 2:50 minutes, the track reaches its climax, with the powerful entry of the rather distorted sounding guitars. 9/10

    Balance: As almost all other tracks, this is another very atmospheric track, with a crescendo of sound. The piano melody in the beginning is somewhat repetitive, being the highlight of the track the guitars reaching the end. 7/10

    Closer: A kind of peaceful, ethereal track, featuring very distorted vocals by Danny. The track seems to be pulled out of a dream, and is also quite hypnotic, due to the use of a repetitive drumbeat, that fastens along the track, and to the distortion of the vocals, that make them sound from afar. Once again, the final segment of the track is the finest, mixing the guitars and the drumming that gain power with time and are met by some background shouting, concluding again with the keyboards and Danny’s strange sounding voice. 8/10

    Are You There?: The first truly melancholic song. Starting with atmospheric sounds, which precede Danny’s vocals. Then he silences himself, allowing the entry of the drumming and the guitars. When he makes himself heard again, he shows more and more emotion, depicting melancholy, which is well showed when he repeats the track title. The ambience in the last minute or so is simply brilliant. 9/10

    Childhood Dream: One short instrumental track, featuring acoustic guitar, keyboards, some child and other atmospheric sounds. It has a very strange ambience, but the track is just too short. 6/10

    Pulled Under At 2000 Meters A Second: This is the most powerful track on this release, where Anathema make a short comeback to their metal roots. It starts out with a bass tune, which is the origin of the crescendo that has its peak when Danny shouts the track title, followed by an explosion of drums and guitars. After the first chorus, we are introduced to the most atmospheric segment of the track, which precedes a new apotheosis of power, before the chorus makes its comeback also. As the track nears its end, a highly distorted guitar cradles us. 10/10

    A Natural Disaster: An exception throughout this album; this track is mainly interpreted by a female singer. The track starts out with a smooth guitar intro, joined shortly after by Lee’s smooth vocals. A peaceful sounding drumming and the keyboards also appear some time after, and accompany the vocals and guitar, as the track is growing. Danny’s vocals are only heard as we approach the end of the track, in an atmospheric choir, that backgrounds the female vocals. 9/10

    Flying: This fairly melancholic track starts with some ambiental sounds, which precede Danny’s vocals and a sad, soft guitar melody. The chorus is simply beautiful and in it’s first apparition it precedes the entry of the drums. As we approach the end, the track really gets superb, with an awesome melody made of guitars, keyboards and drums, ending with some depressing atmospheric sounds. 10/10

    Electricity: Another very melancholic song, that starts with a simple piano tune that Danny joins with his voice shortly after. Then the guitar and some depressing sounds make their appearance, creating a sad ambience. In the final part, the best of the track, the drums precede the last apparition of the chorus, which is again solely accompanied by the piano and the atmospheric sounds, ending out abruptly and leaving us filled with emptiness. 9/10

    Violence: This instrumental track is completely astounding, a masterpiece that really grows on you as you listen to it more and more. The track starts with a beautiful and melancholic piano melody that grows until the music is an explosive mixture of rather distorted guitars, that almost sound like they are screaming, and drums, more and more powerful, until the climax is reached and silence overcomes shortly after. Then starts a long depressive melody of piano of about six minutes, and some sparse guitar sounds. Beyond beautiful. 10/10

    All in all, I recommend this buy to everyone who enjoys really melodic and depressive music, even though it’s not metal. Just remember to keep an open mind.
    And the cover art is also amazing. Travis Smith deserves some praise for it.

    PS: The review remains inaltered since the day it was originally made.

    A Natural Disaster
    Pulled Under at 2000 Metres a Second
    Are You There?
    A Natural Disaster
    Childhood Dream