Within Temptation – Bleed Out (Force Music Recordings)Monday, 16th October 2023
One of the biggest symphonic metal bands on the planet, there’s not much of a need to introduce Within Temptation. Even casual fans (as well as non-metal ones) have become quite familiar with the band over the years as they’ve been quite willing to take some risks, particularly with guest vocalists to pair up with Sharon den Adel. In that regard, possibly the biggest surprise with their eighth full-length, Bleed Out, is that there’s nary a guest to be found (outside of Annisokay on “Shed My Skin”). Something that seems to add more cohesion to the album than one might think.
While the guest vocals have been a fun, additional element to the band (not to mention a nice introduction to the band for many), there’s something equally thrilling to see Bleed Out essentially focused on the band themselves. This release seems to culminate the shape-shifting nature of the act away from their very symphonic metal origins into something that’s entirely modern in sound. Starting off in heavy fashion, “We Go to War” marks a thrilling start to the album, with thunderous drumming and an epic choir of synths. den Adel’s singing sounds as powerful and poignant as ever, propelling a strong chorus forward through the chants below her. The potent riffs behind it all pack a larger punch than what one may have expected from the band, and it really helps chart the course for the rest of the album. The title track veers more into straight melodic territory, but admittedly the way the chorus soars, it’s hard to find any fault with it. It’s “Ritual” that really shakes up the foundations in the fifth position, sounding much more playful than the songs that surround it. It’s a welcome addition, with it’s more exotic and danceable vibes, one has to hope that they’ll pull it out for some live shows as it seems like it would be a blast.
“Cyanide Love” continues the fun, danceable feelings from the previous track, but also brings with it some massive grooves for the listener to take in as well, giving it an almost Eastern vibe at times. “Entertain You” continues that wall of massive grooves, with more modern rock trimmings on the side, offering a nice contrast between more upbeat melodies and some chunky riffing. Another second half highlight would be that of “Shed My Skin,” that seems to ground itself equally in rock and metal portions, giving us some rousing, anthemic moments with some catchy hooks.
While a solid chunk of the songs available for Bleed Out have been released over the last few years as singles due to the band wanting to maintain contact with fans through COVID, there’s still nothing quite like being able to hear the full release from start to finish. Within Temptation continue to be a pillar for the symphonic/modern metal community to lean on, and Bleed Out stands tall as a fresh slab of tunes that fans, both veteran and newcomer, will enjoy whole-heartedly.