Kind of changing direction, but still following the vein of its predecessor Enter, the Y2K 2nd full studio album Mother Earth from the Dutch band Within Temptation is an astonishing piece of work.
Perhaps a bit too much in a hazy, tree-hugger kind of style, but still very varied. And with a few extremely good tracks in them. They called their new style ‘Celtic’ whatever in hell this might mean. And very importantly, they got rid of those darned growls that really never were their forte.
And in truth, this album probably provided the band with their real starting point for their stellar career in later years. What shines most on Mother Earth are the slower tracks, expertly executed by the band. And of course, all equally expertly interpreted by the female vocalist Sharon den Adel. And this gives the whole album the heart and soul it deserves. I am impressed at her reach and how she can vary her performance to fit the song as she does on Caged, for example.
The tracks are all very well varied. Sometimes rocky, then again airy and fairy, just the way we like it from Within Temptation. The record sits somewhere astride between rock and metal. But their early style definitely leans into what was to become Symphonic Metal later.
Mother Earth is probably one of the best – if not the best – of the records they produced so far. And I am reviewing this in 2014. Within Temptation already produced much-lauded records like The Unforgiving or Hydra. And I am just not too fond of both.
On the downside, there is a trifle too much bombast on Mother Earth. But in the end, it is still bearable, even to my metal injured ears. Yet again, some of that stuff sounds like a musical of sorts, which is a pity. But then again, it fits perfectly. Also, there are total failures like the dreaded Intro. WTF, I just hate intros! Or Dark Wings that sounds like some terrible regurgitation of Barclay James Harvest in style and Kate Bush in interpretation (sorry Kate, I still love you..).
Mother Earth – the title track – is a delight to listen to, though. And so are Our Farewell and Never-Ending Story. That’s just perfect arrangement and superb execution in my book. Deceiver of Fools comes complete with an astounding duet at the beginning, absolutely lovely.
For some reason, Restless, the first track in the former album Enter, found its way into this production again. Nothing speaks against it, this is indeed a superb piece of work anyway.
Then of course – last, but not least – there also is Bittersweet. To which I grew kind of addicted for a while. A really cool slow-motion song. And I thought that they don’t make ’em like that anymore. I was so very wrong.
Noteworthy, too, is In Perfect Harmony, some sort of soft ballad that reminds you of some lead track for a … Disney feel-good movie. Not bad, but not really contributing to my idea of an evening of Metal Mojito. I kind of keep grinding my teeth at that one, it’s just too sweet for my taste.
I really fancy Mother Earth and return to it quite often. The record is somewhat of a mixed bag, true. But overall, the piece is an extremely pleasing upgrade from their first album. And – to my unending relief – without their terrible growls. Thank Loki for that.
Record Rating: 8/10 | Label: DSFA | Web: Official Site
Release date: 24 December 2000