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Album Review: WITHIN TEMPTATION Hydra

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Ever since the post on the albums that can celebrate their 10th anniversary in the year 2014, I’ve been thinking on a lot of bands that have been household names for me in the world of metal. You tend to forget that as you get older, your favorite bands get older as well. And in regards to Within Temptation, a quick search revealed to me that Within Temptation is only two years short from 20 active years in the metal world now with 6 LPs released. The album in question, Hydra, is said to be a fitting title as it represents their many different sides of music just like the very monster with many different heads. And with their experience, it just might make for an exciting experience.

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Hydra begins with “Let Us Burn”, which truly blew me away. Symphonic metal albums always have some sort of “epic” quota to fill, and Hydra began working on that right away. Sharon den Adel’s angelic voice is obviously the featured player accompanied with orchestra and choir and an achingly catchy chorus. It’s just an extremely powerful opener and gives you a promising future for the rest of Hydra.

The rest of the album presents a well laid-out variety of tracks with a great range. Tracks like “Edge of the World” and “Dog Days” have a slower and more emotional approach whereas “Dangerous” and “Tell Me Why” are on the driving and heavier side.

Even though elements roughly stay the same throughout Hydra, the progression of the album and lack of overall monotony keeps you going. The song structures are all pretty basic, the choruses have catchy hooks, and there’s obviously some sort of orchestral element to counterpoint the vocal melodies, but for some reason I can never get sick of it. And to be fair, I’m not sure if this album really represents more sides to them other than symphonic metal, unless it refers to the varying feels throughout the album. It’s not unlike other Within Temptation records, but it still displays intelligent songwriting.

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There are some notable guest appearances as well. Ex-Nightwish vocalist Tarja Turunen appears on the lead single “Paradise (What About Us?)”, Dave Pirner (Soul Asylum) appears on “The Whole World is Watching”, and Howard Jones appears on “Dangerous”. And those appearances fit really well. They add to the songs without becoming too much of a distraction. Plus, it’s been quite a while since I’ve heard something new with Jones’ voice in it.

But there’s one other guest appearance on the album by rapper Xzibit on “And We Run.” And…well, we know that rap and metal can work surprisingly well with each other, and we also know that sometimes…it can’t. And it’s certainly not THAT bad, but I’d be lying if I said my eyebrows didn’t crinkle even a little bit every time I heard “And We Run.” But other than that, the guest appearances sure are a hoot.

Simply put, Hydra by Within Temptation is good. It’s really really good, for both Within Temptation and symphonic metal. It’s obviously a must-have for fans and a great introduction for anyone unfamiliar with them up until now. If you end up getting it, trust me, “Let Us Burn” is going to get stuck in your head for days.

 

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