The Heart of Everything is the first Within Temptation record I ever listened to, and it hooked me like a fish on a spike. The slightly subdued symphonic Gothic Metal sound and the diversity of the tracks were just irresistible.
And it’s those very dark, brooding sections that interchange with light and airy stuff coming right out of some ethereal sphere that got to me. To spice things up some more, sometimes Within Temptation sounds like some computer game soundtrack of sorts on The Heart of Everything. And this is what it is, essentially. At least for parts of the record.
The Dutch band Within Temptation (I could not believe they were from the lowlands at that time) created a worthy successor to The Silent Force. And that – in itself – is already a difficult feat. Yet, it will never reach the latter in quality, albeit that it sounds pretty neat as a standalone.
The record is beautifully executed, though. And – I daresay – The Heart of Everything quickly morphed into one of the best albums this band ever created. Within Temptation also made a distinct effort to keep the epic and bombast under tight control. And the result is pretty impressive.
Of course, Sharon Den Adel – as usual – keeps the tracks alive and exciting. Some of my co-reviewers opined that there are too many clean vocals for the male singers. But – hey – half-hearted growls don’t serve any purpose, so better out the door with them.
The Howling steps right into the thick of things. The track feels like riding along some deep dark and haunted countryside followed by demons ready to kill. All of that embeds nicely into a sturdy mix of Gothic and Symphonic Metal of the first order.
However, I do not care much for the second track What Have You Done with Keith Caputo. This is not a quality add-on in my book. What the hell were they thinking with this one! Even if they redeemed themselves somewhat by about mid-point with Den Adel‘s delightful wailing.
Actually, this thing to use guest vocalists in the hope that this might improve their quality some will become much more rampant in future releases. Just take the 2014 record Hydra that just could never get on our good side.
But then, The Heart of Everything takes off with some gusto. And there are some superb and astonishing tracks. Like Frozen or The Heart of Everything – the title song. Or then again Our Solemn Hour stealing some of Churchill’s speeches. Or the excellent Hand of Sorrow that allowed Den Adel to really shine with all that firepower she displays.
To top it, the record is pretty diverse in tastes and flavors. Within Temptation managed to marry their Gothic urges with superbly executed Symphonic Metal. And keep the ugly pop at bay, which is good. And that is remarkable, knowing that nothing is ever easy in music creation.
Unfortunately, the record loses a bit of steam in the last third – with a very welcome ray of light in All I Need. Also, their tracks sound somewhat over-engineered at times. Too perfectly executed, no rough edges to draw some blood from. Plus, all of this seems a little too poppy perhaps? Maybe a sign of times to come later, who knows.
Apart from that I absolutely love the record.
The Heart of Everything really represents Within Temptation at its best. Later records – The Unforgiving for instance – and the aforementioned Hydra embarked on the slippery slope of the vile mainstream a tad too much. And that lost them a lot of the former qualities in the process. Let’s hope that the band finds its way back to this kind of light and airy way to make music.
Should you feature that record in your collection? Absolutely, and there will be no regrets. I’d get myself this record again, anytime. Enjoy!