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Within Temptation - "Hydra" (CD)

Within Temptation - "Hydra" CD cover image

"Hydra" track listing:

1. Let Us Burn
2. Dangerous (Feat. Howard Jones)
3. And We Run (Feat. Xzibit)
4. Paradise (What About Us?) (Featuring Tarja)
5. Edge Of The World
6. Silver Moonlight
7. Covered By Roses
8. Dog Days
9. Tell Me Why
10. Whole World Is Watching (Feat. Dave Pirner)

Reviewed by on January 30, 2014

"Everyone from Tarja Turunen to Howard Jones and even rapper Xzibit makes an appearance on what is actually a very solid album for fans of melodic metal without any harsh vocals."

Dutch outfit Within Temptation is back for another round of theatrical and symphonic female-fronted music, this time bringing on a variety of guest musicians for surprising twists. Everyone from Tarja Turunen to Howard Jones and even rapper Xzibit makes an appearance (more on that later) on what is a very solid album for fans of melodic metal without any harsh vocals.

While not as metal focused as the other female-fronted bands that have released albums in recent memory (Sirenia, Revamp, etc.) “Hydra” is still chock full of heavy guitar riffing. There’s definitely a metal appeal here, contrary to what the elitist faction would have you believe. There’s an intense energy to each track, accompanied by an epic feel from the symphonic elements, that makes the album a genuine pleasure to hear. That being said, the structure of most of the songs is also very similar, so if you like this sound there’s lots of it, but it also feels like it could use some stylistic changes as the album progresses. Be careful what you wish for though – you might end up with a rap interlude!

“And We Run” is song that straddles the line between energetic and melancholy and just might be the best offering on the disc, but then there’s the surprise guest appearance by Xzibit. Interestingly, my first thought when the rap popped up wasn’t “this is awful,” it was instead “this isn’t going to go over well with the metal heads.” I’ve listened to this track probably 20 times to make sure I gave it a fair shake, and to be honest, the mashing of styles isn’t that bad. The track might have been better without it, but it doesn’t tank the song, and the material surrounding the interlude is incredibly strong. It’s also the only instance where that style appears on “Hydra,” so if that’s not your thing, just skip the track.

One other alteration in style appears on “Edge of the World,” which ditches the heaviness altogether to bring up a Loreena Mckennit or Enya type sound. Aside from that trajectory change, the ten tracks on “Hydra” all keep the blood pumping and offer a satisfying mix of heavy metal and clean melody.

Highs: The album is intensely energetic and offers a strong balance of metal and melody.

Lows: The rap interlude will probably be hated by most, and most of the songs follow a similar structure.

Bottom line: One guest appearance in particular won't be well received, but that issue aside, this is a actually a great female-fronted melodic metal release.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)