Within Temptation are a band that can do no wrong, it seems. Not afraid of experimenting with different sounds and ideas, each album they release brings something new to the table and their sixth studio album Hydra is no exception to this, with it seeing a return to some of the earlier elements of their sound with growls in two of the tracks, whilst breaking boundaries yet again by incorporating rapping vocals into another.
Let Us Burn
Hydra gets off to a great start with opener Let Us Burn, which builds up atmosphere with the introduction slowly getting louder until the full band joins in with a wonderfully warm and thick sounding section. It’s an introduction befitting for such a beautiful album and continues strongly with a great sing-along chorus; a triumphant beginning to Hydra that shows the band coming out fighting!
The second single released from the album, this features guest vocals from Howard Jones (ex-Killswitch Engage) and his powerful and distinctive vocals complement Sharon’s perfectly, both when they sing together and in their respective solo sections. Easily one of the best tracks of the album, if not the best, and it’s just one of those infectious songs that can be stuck in your head for days. The recurring guitar line, which takes both lead and accompanying roles throughout the song, is a fantastic bit of songwriting on its own and adds that extra spark to the track. Utterly fantastic from start to finish – my personal highlight of the album.
And We Run
When it was announced that Hydra would be featuring guest vocals from rapper Xzibit, it was met with a mixed reaction but quite honestly, this track would have felt incomplete without his vocals on it. It sounds a lot different to how you may expect it to as it’s got more of an acoustic and stripped-down feel to it and the rapped vocals are utterly fantastic; the emotion behind them is extremely raw and honest, and the track is an extremely rewarding and unique listen that you’ll want to keep revisiting.
Paradise (What About Us?)
Featuring guest vocals from Tarja Turunen (ex-Nightwish), this is unfortunately one of the weaker tracks of the album, which is a shame because a duet between two of metal’s most respected and talented female vocalists is an incredible idea. There’s nothing wrong with Tarja’s vocals and she does give a fantastic performance but the song is a little lacklustre as a whole. Nothing quite manages to grab your interest about it, but it has to be said that the short-but-sweet guitar solo in the latter half of the song really packs a punch!
Edge Of The World
Quite a slow-burner. Although it takes a little while to properly get going, it starts off as a pretty little acoustic number before the heavier guitars give it a much-needed kick-start and inject some life into it. Admittedly it’s quite a difficult listen, but it is a bit of a grower and it does sit rather nicely in the middle of Hydra as a dividing track between some of the more energetic songs that feature on the album.
This song sees a very welcome return of the growls from Robert, which made up a prominent part of the band’s earlier sound. It’s a nice throwback to their older material whilst still feeling fresh and new, and the guitars are wonderfully heavy which go well with the harsher vocals, whilst still retaining a lightness that works well with Sharon’s vocals. Another of the runaway successes of Hydra, it’s an engaging listen that plays on the band’s strengths.
Covered By Roses
Beginning with a catchy guitar line, it grabs your interest from the first note and the more you listen to this one, the more it grows on you. There’s so many great little elements in it, from the keyboard and synthesised lines, to the guitar solo and the memorable chorus that I can already see massive crowds of people singing along to, and I half-wish that they’d chosen this as one of the singles from the album rather than sticking to the ones that featured guest musicians.
Although this isn’t one of the songs that immediately jumps out at you, as the introduction and verses aren’t anything special, the chorus is a light and relaxed affair that sticks in your mind and resonates long after the song finishes, which balances the song out a little. Probably not the first track I’d recommend from the album, but it’s an easy and enjoyable listen.
Tell Me Why
Another song that utilises growling vocals, this is a breathtaking inclusion that is a triumphant and majestic piece. The longest track of the album, it’s somewhat of an epic and takes the listener on a musical journey throughout its duration. The vocals are fantastic, the instrumentation is gorgeous and when put together, it makes for a stunning piece that shows off just how talented this band is. Definitely worth checking this one out.
Whole World Is Watching
The fourth track of the album that features a guest vocalist, I have to admit I was a little sceptical by the time this song rolled round because having so many different people included does seem to detract the attention away from the band, but when Dave Pirner’s vocals began, I fell completely and utterly in love with this song. Out of the four guest vocalists, his voice works best with Sharon’s and the track as a whole is a pretty little thing, just the right thing to close Hydra with!
Within Temptation have done it again with Hydra – they’ve created yet another cracking album and deserve every success they get with the release of it. A rewarding listen; you couldn’t ask for more.