Suffering from writers’ block after an exhausting touring cycle, Within Temptation singer Sharon den Adel found herself devoid of inspiration and worrying that she might not be able to write again. Eventually, she did begin composing once more, but on a smaller scale and for a more personal solo project released earlier this year.
Writer’s block dealt with, Within Temptation returned to the studio, but found writing the new record a challenge due to an initial lack of direction brought on by the earlier burnout. Thankfully, the five-year gap – the longest between records since the band started out – doesn’t seem to done them any lasting damage. A string of sold-out shows across Europe and upcoming festival appearances prove the band have lost none of their popularity, their fans sticking by them loyally during the long gap between releases.
However, while new album Resist (Spinefarm) is far from disappointing, it does show the band may not have possessed that same belief in themselves this time.
Although Resist is undoubtedly a fine comeback, the band’s progression does appear to have become somewhat stunted through the extended period of inactivity. Each successive album from their 1997 debut onwards had shown the band to have faith in their convictions, with each subsequent release adding different and diverse elements to their sound. In many ways, Resist serves as a reaffirmation of intent rather than another challenging, or even controversial, progression.
Anthemic album opener ‘The Reckoning’ (chosen as the first single) is a strident call to arms; a superb track which features Jacoby Shaddix from nu-Metal act Papa Roach, and a beast of a chorus. Beginning with gentle keyboards and operatic backing, Sharon marks her entrance on ‘Endless War’ with a restrained melody you just know will return with fully supported vengeance in a minute or two, which it does. And then some.
‘Raise Your Banner’, featuring Anders Fridén of In Flames, is pure metal melodrama with echoes of ‘What Have You Done’, and features one of the best guitar solos on the album. ‘Supernova’, with its passionate delivery and Eurovision keyboards is another surefire winner, but also signals the end of the record’s excellent start.
The beginning of a three-song mid-album mini-slump, ‘Holy Ground’ features an almost rapped, Pop verse that doesn’t really work, ‘In Vain’ is a harmless enough track raised by a strong chorus, and ‘Firelight’ featuring Jasper Steverlinck from Belgian rock band Arid and some admittedly strong backing orchestration, is just sort of there. And while none of these songs could be described as outright poor, none of them live too long in the memory either. Things get straight back on track, though, with the upbeat Eurodance of ‘Mad World’, the eighties style pop Rock of ‘Mercy Mirror’ and the rousing finale of ‘Trophy Hunter’.
Including a few welcome nods to previous albums, Resist is a solid release that reintroduces the band to their fans without ever asking too much. The Pop influences still abound, the songs knit together well (even if some might not be quite so memorable as others) and the musicianship, as ever, is excellent, but once again – and thoroughly unsurprisingly – it’s Sharon who is the real star of the show.
7 / 10