Dutch symphonic metal group Within Temptation are back with their seventh studio album, but word these days is that they no longer refer to themselves as ‘symphonic metal.’ RESIST takes their traditional habit of incorporating various genres into their music and multiplies it by a thousand in the form of a ten-track album. Not a long enough album for you? Surprise yourself. The content of the tracks may be enough to satisfy you the same way a longer album would, especially with songs upwards of nearly six minutes. Whereas listeners are right to expect metal, symphonic metal, and goth metal, RESIST offers up something we may or may not have noticed in their previous work: a focus on electronics and some underlying pop influences roughed up into an interesting presentation into the rock scene.
Opening this newer sound is THE RECKONING featuring Jacoby Shaddix of Papa Roach. An interesting duet that could arguably be the strongest track of the album, depending on who you ask. The war-tone of the track features an almost trumpet-sounding overlay that sounds roughed up to fit in a traditional rock form, and the method just works. The blend of clear vocals from Sharon den Adel mixed with the darker tone from Shaddix is the highlight of this track, but there is much to love from the entirety.
ENDLESS WAR is immediately different, but the listener would have to pay close attention to pick up on one of the used instruments here: there is an underlying piano that can be heard in the outro, but upon a few listens and some straining, exists underneath the rest of the surprisingly smooth mainstream take.
RAISE YOUR BANNER featuring Anders Friden of IN FLAMES goes back to the established war-tone we started with in The Reckoning. If the concept of the album is to push back against the forces holding us down these days, this song captures that perfectly. We have a guitar solo in this one (which we lack on most, if not all other tracks) that very much pumps the energy into the concept. Sharon’s voice really brings home a sense of power and resistance that gives the album a great kick with RAISE YOUR BANNER, especially with her Mother-Earth style outro.
The ever-popular SUPERNOVA, which fans in Europe got a live taste of during their 2018 tour, hits square in the chest as one of the most powerful songs on the album. Even the instrumental is enough to reach up and slap you in the face, demanding you tell it the main genre it is reaching for and feeling rightly accomplished when you can’t. With Supernova, Within Temptation has taken different genres that one might cringe to hear together and blended into something that offers such a pleasant surprise that we’re sure even Within Temptation themselves are pleased. Based on fan reaction, it could even be the band’s most popular song on the album.
HOLY GROUND takes a different turn and brings the listener a sense of what ‘angry Sharon’ would sound like. While the chosen vocal style may not sit well with some, the lyrics and message make up a song that could very well be open to interpretation from the listener. A sense of electronics overlay this track with what sounds like a go-to formula for the chorus. All in all, 50/50 for who will like it and who won’t, but a powerful track nonetheless.
IN VAIN is arguably the most “pop” track on RESIST. It follows a very simple structure both musically and lyrically, full of repetitions of instruments that have the song blending into something generally unmemorable. The lyrics are predictable and simple, but sometimes simple is better. While it isn’t the strongest song on the album, it certainly isn’t the weakest, and could lend to some light listening when the listener isn’t looking for something too intense.
FIRELIGHT, a track too dark for Sharon den Adel’s solo album MY INDIGO, was roughed up and placed on RESIST. As a stand-alone track, it is beautiful and haunting and the lyrics lend to an interesting take on pain and life. Does it fit with RESIST and its concept? Some say it could, but if it were trying to be as bold-faced as the other tracks, the resounding answer would be no. The ‘dark pop’ tones are an interesting choice for the meaning of the song, however, and if a listener who may not like it tied to RESIST can separate it and treat it as a stand-alone or a B-Side to MY INDIGO, it may have a lot of potential to be great.
MAD WORLD can be considered another one of the most “pop” tracks on this album. In the reviewer’s opinion, it’s the weakest on the album, though I highly encourage everyone to give it a chance. Public consensus is that it actually isn’t and that it’s enjoyable. Like IN VAIN, it seems to follow a simple, repetitive formula, but consists of lyrics that aren’t all that memorable. You may or may not be humming it to yourself later. Another 50/50 on whether or not the listener will enjoy.
There are certainly hints to Sharon’s father’s passing on this album, but none highlight it more than MERCY MIRROR. A ballad of sorts, Sharon delivers lyrics of grief and loss, and it definitely hits home. A song everyone who has experienced some kind of loss can relate to, it has the potential to be the strongest in terms of genuine emotion. “It’s a wicked game life plays,” indeed.
Finally, TROPHY HUNTER comes to a pretty close tie with SUPERNOVA as being the strongest track on RESIST. It’s certainly the heaviest next to The Reckoning, especially with the guitars becoming audible once more in the beginning and the drums reminding us, “WE EXIST!” Paired with a memorable bridge and a fun chorus to sing, and Sharon den Adel’s voice soaring above and taking the listener hostage for the whole 5:51 song, it’s a winner that was definitely best saved for last. Ending on a heavy note to remind us who they are? A pretty Within Temptation thing to do.
The biggest argument with this record looks to be the lack of guitars and the muted drums. Metal fans may be disappointed, as this album explores many different genres and blends them together into one sound, and the songs themselves have the tendency of all sounding the same at times. Overall, however, if treated like the experiment Within Temptation meant it to be, it is a truly fun album to listen to in order to get your energy flowing. Its Top 20 chart rankings all over the world say that much!