Top positive review
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The world is watching...
on 3 February 2014
I've been on a Within Temptation rampage in the first few days. Not least because I've been downloading pretty much everything I own as MP3s. That meant all of Within Temptation's back catalog - it also meant I had the great honour of listening to everything they've ever done from the beginning. The journey has been immense and so has the wait for Hydra.
Hydra is the culmination of a journey that has taken over a decade to realise. We had a glimpse of Hydra back in the fall of 2013 with 'Paradise' - at a time when the album should have been released. The beauty of digital downloads is that when the release date ticks over into being active, you can get it straight away. It's been a long time coming but it's here now and I'm happy, really happy!
It's like the Within Temptation I always thought they we're have finally shown themselves, and they're not afraid to do exactly what is right for them. Whereas 'The Forgiving' may have been an album where they flexed their concept mainstream muscles, 'Hydra' deserves to finally propel them fully into the realm of being a household name.
The previous album could be forgiven for sounding a little samey but there's none of that here, instead we find a diverse mix of songs that should satisfy most fans and probably gain a few million more.
'Edge of the World' is a sweeping piece of music that makes you wanna raise your hands and shout out to the heavens - truly magnificent. The aforementioned 'Paradise' is a powerhouse of metal and operatic vocals with a chorus that sounds evidently plucked from the eighties, and there's nothing wrong with that!
'And We Run' is sure to divide fans and critics alike but I'm all for experimentation within music and let's face it - rock and rap have been hand in hand since Run DMC and Aerosmith and more recently JayZ with Linkin Park. Is it any surprise that Within Temptation, on their rise to superstardom, had enlisted the vocals of American rapper Xzibit? It's no surprise at all and although not the strongest song on the album, it is worthy of note for moving to break down barriers. It also will most likely gain them a new legion of fans from other genres.
'Covered By Roses' is a return to the days gone by, a power metal anthem that showcases their talent for creating catchy riffs with extremely mature vocals, a testament to the growth and desire of an amazing group.
If you've never heard Within Temptation before or you're a hardened fan like me, them you'll easily find something here to enjoy and take away from it. Far from forgetting their roots on their way to reaching a mainstream audience, they have created an album that feels like a showcase for everything they are good at.
One minor annoyance is the length, at less than 50mins it doesn't push the boat out, but then again, when every song is this good I can live with that. Now the final song, 'Whole World Is Watching' is a superb ending to a great album and it feels like a song in which they leave their calling card for the rest of the world to discover them... to discover and wonder what they've been missing for the past decade.
Hydra is a superb album, it feels like it has been a long time coming and the constant change in release dates didn't help - but it's here now and I'm glad it's as good as I wanted to be. Whatever you think of the group, there is no denying that they continue to push the boat out, to test new boundaries and to really find their place within the music world.
And in the end - they're just brilliant songs!