If I had to describe this album with one word, then it would be: CLASS. People, who know me, know I am a sucker for metal with female vocals, and this album has exceeded my expectations by a mile (at least).
Try and imagine Kate Bush making a hard rock album, then I am pretty sure it would sound something like "The Silent Force". I know it's big words to compare Sharon den Adel with Kate Bush, but I don't think she has to hide behind anyone - she sings wonderful, with great conviction and her range is up there with the best.
To label their music gothic hard rock is too simple. They have their roots in metal and gothic rock, but there is so much more to this album. The music is beautiful and melodic with bits and pieces of metal, but mostly it's rock with huge soundscapes and big background choirs, nice keyboards, hard punding drums, excellent orchestration, nice guitarwork and everything is tied together in a excellent production by Daniel Gibson. The bright star is however Sharon den Adel - the performance she delivers on this album is in my book the best vocal performance on a metal album ever! There I said it - and sorry Tarja, but it's true ...
It's hard to put your finger on anything on this album - and the only reason I don't award this brilliant album the perfect score is because I think there's a few albums, that deserves that designation!
But I have a very strong feeling, this album could go down as one the classic albums of 2004, not just among metal fans, but also to a larger audience! Because the sheer quality of the songs appeal to a very broad audience, beyond the metal and hard rock fans! I think, that at least 5 or 6 songs have hit potential and with the right support and maybe some luck Within Temptation could have the same impact Evanscence have had!!! And Withing Tempation is a better band and their songs are better (and I do like Evanscence!).
And do get the "Limited Premium Edition", because the 2 bonus tracks are equal magnificient and absolutely worth the extra buck! I do consider "The Swan Song" to be the best ballad on the album, if I had to choose! Lovely celtic ballad.
And I have to eat my words: Nightwish's "Once" isn't album of the year - this brilliant album from Holland is ... so rush out and buy this musical masterpiece now!!!
Recommended tracks: ALL OF THEM!!!