WITHIN TEMPTATION - "MOTHER EARTH" (DSFA)
Oh yes, oh yes, the long time of waiting since Within Temptation's debut ("Enter", 1997) is finally at an end: DSFA have released "Mother Earth", Within Temptation's second effort.
There are some basic differences between "Mother Earth" and "Enter": There is more orchestration and there is no more grunt. Neither of them are necessarily bad. I didn't personally miss the grunt until I read an interview where the band themselves pointed it out, and the orchestration clearly adds another dimension to the tracks. Particular the use of certain classical instruments (copper?) in several tracks adds a nigh movie-score-like dimension.
In principle, "Mother Earth" has two types of tracks. First and foremost there are the classic Within Temptation tracks with Sharon's voice soaring to unimaginable heights, musically with plenty of guts. Several of these tracks have been played in concert the past year already. Second there's quite a few more sensitive songs. Appreciation of these tunes depends very much on your mood, and whether you're a diabetic or not. In other words: Beautiful and sensitive, but definitely sugar-coated and hopefully no candidates for live performances.
The classic tracks include the opener, "Mother Earth", right away one of the most powerful tracks which also makes use of the copper instrumentation mentioned earlier. "Ice Queen", too, is a track that almost has the power to send tears of happiness to your eyes. "Caged" starts off cheesy but then again turns into sheer excellence, similarly "The Promise". "Deceiver of Fools" is probably the finest track on the album, though for some reason they considered it necessary to provide it with an ill-fitting and methinks superfluous quiet intro. "Dark Wings" is the last of the heavier tracks, also rather good.
In between these classic tracks are the more sensitive songs. "Our Farewell", where Sharon den Adel's voice is truly and hauntingly enchanting, and the closing track "In Perfect Harmony". The latter has ingredients of "Moonlight Shadow" era Mike Oldfield, Enya and Celine Dion. Beautiful, if a bit repetitive. And there are two definitely lesser tracks, most importantly the cover "Never-Ending Story". It, together with "Intro" (an intro to "Dark Wings") might just as well not have been on the album.
As an extra bonus there's a second CD. I don't exactly know whether it's 'limited' or whether it will be available for everyone, but it's definitely worth mentioning. It features one audio track ("World of Make Believe", a good track) but is primarily a vehicle for a multi-media extravaganza including wallpapers, a screen saver and several MPEGs. There's only one thing better than Within Temptation, and that's Within Temptation live! To see the band jumping and Sharon in her beautiful dresses banging her head off, that's the way! Plenty of that in the multimedia section, including impressions from Lowlands and Dynamo Open Air. Especially the live videoclip of "The Other Half" is worth seeing. As a kind of joke extra (I suppose) there's a "Within Temptation Fan Bash" game, where you have to prevent fans from climbing onto the stage. Hmm.
All in all, "Mother Earth" is an excellent CD. Not "CD of the year" material such as I had hoped, but offering plenty of classic material. The bonus CD makes it all the more interesting. Despite those sugar-coated songs, "Mother Earth" still gets the full score!
Written December 2000
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