Within Temptation’s journey has taken them from cult symphonic metal band to festival headliners. Their last album., Resist, found the Dutch outfit pushing their sound into bold new areas. We look back on the songs that have made them the band they are.
Mother Earth (Mother Earth, 2000)
This classic paean to the Big Green Lady is the track that introduced much of the world to Within Temptation, and it remains one of their hallmark anthems almost two decades later. Swaying synths swirl dramatically around stirring string sections, as Sharon Den Adel croons her way through a song so bombastic it could have been plucked straight out of something from the Lord Of The Rings soundtrack. Probably during a song about Ents.
Ice Queen (Mother Earth, 2000)
That the title track wasn’t Mother Earth’s most overblown number speaks volumes of how big Within Temptation’s ambitions were from very early on, and this frost-tinted monster might just be symphonic metal’s finest moment. Big riffs, synths, strings, horn sections and what still may just stand as Sharon’s most powerful vocal performance. Metal rarely gets more ludicrous – or brilliant – than this.
Stand My Ground (The Silent Force, 2004)
A hint of the more rock-oriented waters that Within Temptation would dip into later in their career, while Stand My Ground might be far from the band’s heaviest track, it showed that they were finding their feet with penning big, catchy choruses. Catchy choruses still drowned in dramatic synth and big-ass riffs, mind. The lyrics, based around confronting your past and tackling your inner demons head-on, are a defiant call-to-arms.
Angels (The Silent Force, 2004)
A melancholic wave of synth introduces this, one of the Dutch band’s most well-known singles. And it’s well-known for good reason: Angels was the surest sign yet that Within Temptation were beginning to hone their songwriting without sacrificing any of the grandeur and glory that had made their early tracks such epics. One of the biggest choruses contemporary metal has produced, it’s a song that still sounds absolutely humongous live.
The Howling (The Heart Of Everything, 2007)
A spooky, supernatural humdinger of a song, The Howling not only boasts one of Within Temptation’s most memorable intros (come on, don’t pretend you don’t find yourself singing along with those Whoooooooo whooooo whooooos), but takes on a much more sinister edge lyrically, taking the listener through a nightmarish showdown with otherworldly beasties. Most likely including werewolves. How this song never got picked up for an Underworld movie we’ll never know.
Faster (The Unforgiving, 2011)
2011’s The Unforgiving saw Within Temptation make their biggest stride yet away from their symphonic-heavy roots, and it paid dividends – it’s a near-flawless record, stacked with killer, rock-heavy songs full of enough hooks to give the whole of Neverland the shits. This stomping single showed that the band had finally made the full transition from symphonic metal heavyweights to a rock ‘n’ roll powerhouse.
Iron (The Unforgiving, 2011)
Evidence that Within Temptation hadn’t yet left their penchant for bombast behind them, Iron is a full-blown, galloping heavy metal anthem, packed with strings, horns and a bassline ripped straight from Steve Harris’ notebook. A sinister, spoken-word segment designed to tie into the conceptually loaded theme at the heart of the record only adds more tension to what is one of the band’s most dramatic and urgent songs.
Sinéad (The Unforgiving, 2011)
Perhaps the best song on The Unforgiving is, in many ways, its least metal. Don’t let that put you off, though: Sinéad is essentially a kickass pop tune drenched in guitar, with a hook so catchy it’ll cause an outbreak and a chorus so infectious it’ll have you nodding your head for hours after the song’s finished. If Kelly Clarkson wrote this song it’d have been filling the guilty pleasure spot at rock nights for years after.
Paradise (What About Us?) (Hydra, 2014)
While Hydra felt like it wasn’t quite the leap forward that Within Temptation needed, it still gave us this killer cut. The symphonic metal dream team of Sharon den Adel and ex-Nightwish singer Tarja Turunen gave us an absolute beast of a lead single, the two singers’ voices complimenting each other perfectly and providing Within Temptation with one of their biggest singles ever. 53 million views and counting on YouTube doesn’t lie.
The Reckoning (Resist, 2018)
If the lead single from new album Resist is anything to go by, we are about to be in for something very, very special indeed. The Reckoning opens with one of the heaviest riffs Within Temptation have ever produced, sounding like something from a recent Korn album more than anything in their catalogue, and the abundance of electronic flourishes add a welcome new dimension to their sound. A well-worked cameo from Papa Roach’s Jacoby Shaddix seals the deal nicely. Is this a sign of things to come? Well, you’ll have to pick up the new issue of Metal Hammer to find out...
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