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Brief ranking with ratingsMartin_Canine 7. THE HEART OF EVERYTHING
I know this is the favourite WT album of many fans, and don't get me wrong: it is a very good album. It just feels somewhat unfinished. It is less folk-ish and soft than the era from "Enter" to "The Silent Force", but not quite as energetic as "The Unforgiving" or "Hydra". It furthermore lacks earworms, and Sharon's deeper voice doesn't fit too well in some of the slower tracks. Nevertheless: it has its awesome moments and is far better than most albums by other artists.
3 1/2 stars (out of 5)
6. THE Q-MUSIC SESSIONS
Many people don't know this project exists. It has Within Temptation performing cover versions of well known songs, e.g. by Imagine Dragons, Bruno Mars, Lana Del Ray. What I like about this is that they neither copied the original's style nor went for their own symphonic style. The songs are all performed in Alternative and sometimes Synth rock arrangements. That makes the album stand out in WT's discography.
5. THE UNFORGIVING
This is a consequent change in style. Power metal instead of symphonic metal. Lyric-wise, vocal-wise, music-wise. More straight forward, relying less on creating a mythical atmosphere. "Like a damn criminal" is a phrase you wouldn't have found on the band's older records. The whole concept and outfit is more modern, feeling more like a soundtrack to an action video game - in other words: it delivers what the cover artwork promises.
4 1/2 stars
What I like about "Hydra" is that it feels just as modern and heavy as their previous album, but also as bombastic and overwhelming as their old stuff.
When 'The Unforgiving' was a cool video game, this is a blockbuster movie. It is more poetic than its predecessor, yet still it does not the fairytale like touch of "Mother Earth". It is, overall, a very enjoyable and big album, the highlight definitely being the Tarja duet "Paradise" - a track worthy of such a big name collaboration.
4 1/2 stars.
Despite loving Within Temptation, I always thought Nightwish is an even better band. But in one aspect WT are ahead of their genre mates: their debut album is way better. "Enter" could easily be the band's second best work, wouldn't there be those death growls that don't fit the music's soft and melodious mood. Music-wise, "Enter" feels dreamy, a bit like something you'd expect hearing on the soundtrack of a rather dark "Alice in Wonderland" adaption. Somewhere between beautiful and spooky, "Enter", with its strings, guitars, pianos and choirs, adding to Sharon's outlandish vocals, is one of the band's best effort.
Almost 5 stars, but the growls push it into 4 1/2 star territory.
2. THE SILENT FORCE
It's a worthy follow up to "Mother Earth". It has all the earworm hooks, plus a bigger orchestra, the soft yet powerful arrangements, that often range from almost acapella in the verses to full blown symphonic when the chorus breaks in. And then Sharon's angel voice...
Clearly 5 stars.
1. MOTHER EARTH
Remains one of my 10 favourite albums to date. It's so full of melody, grace and beauty. The flutes, strings, choirs, the singing style, guitars, drums - it sounds like straight out of the greatest fairytale ever written. Then there are such epic songs like "Deceiver of Fools", that starts with a 2 minute, quiet opening sequence only featuring soft strings and Sharon singing in duet with herself. Almost brings tears to your eyes. THEN the band and orchestra starts playing the powerful main body of the song. Amazing. And that's only one of many beautiful moments on "Mother Earth".