There are transitional albums, but rarely do bands come out of the sonic shift as well as Dutch act Within Temptation do on Resist. Their sixth album, Hydra, showcased a band trying to move away from their more gothic, symphonic metal past into something more modern, (even) more melodic, and more anthemic.
I’ll cop to coming into the group now with Resist, so I have the advantage of not having the baggage old fans have toward the past. Yet, while Hydra had a few growing pains, Resist really does feel like a butterfly taking form and flying off into the distance.
The band’s current goal seems to align with the idea that pop metal can not only exist, but that it can be done without sounding trite and tacky. There are certainly acts (who will go unnamed) that have tried to make commercially viable metal, but few have been able to make a record as endearing, empowering, and as fun as Within Temptation do here.
That’s not to say Resist is a perfect record. The inspirational lyrics can be a bit much when taken in full, and the album’s second half gets a bit more ballad-heavy (to its detriment). However, there are no dud songs, and vocalist Sharon den Adel has never sounded more assured. One pitfall many formerly metal acts fall into when trying to go full pop is they overdo the modern elements. There are no djent, downtuned guitars here; no hackneyed, electronic flourishes, and no hip hop flairs (the less said about that Hydra song the better).
Instead, we’re left with a band emphasizing their strengths (massive choruses, symphonic touches, empowering lyrics) while not trying to add in elements that become their weaknesses. This may not be the band’s best effort yet, but it’s clear that they are putting their best sonic foot forward in 2019 (reminder to stop dating documents with 2018…).
Within Temptation’s transformation has revealed a pop metal juggernaut and one that isn’t afraid to be as bold and fun as possible.
Purchase the album here.