One of the things that Within Temptation are very good in is their ability to adapt – starting from a gothic/doom niche, the Dutch metal institution set up to record symphonic masterpieces followed by an explosive concoction of pop, retro and modern sound, joining forces with names even outside the rock scene. Resist marks the longest creative pause for the musicians whose career as a group was about the end long before the record’s release.
The album is an attempt to salvage what’s left of Within Temptation‘s past grandure and allow them to move forward. Behind the initial Black Mirror-ish concept one gets a glimpse of the band’s desire to start anew, focusing on what they do best – after all, we’ve seen them successfully battle their musical burnout, resulting in addictive spins such as The Unforgiving. Instead of a true return to form, however, a chaotic PR campaign marked the delay of the album, half of which we were already familiar with thanks to a prematurely supporting tour.
As expected, Within Temptation chose the best tracks for their concerts – old school symphonic hits such as “Endless War” and “Raise Your Banner” (feat. In Flames’ Anders Fridén) sound just about right next to the modern electronics of “Supernova” and “The Reckoning” (feat. Papa Roach). Unfortunately, the problems start with the second half of the record. Instead of interpreting the contemporary pop music in a darker way as WT set out to do, they got onboard with a polished “americanized” production which often blurs main aspects (like Sharon’s vocals) in a failed attempt to focus on details, resulting in a badly compressed mechanical vibe.
The rap lyrics of “Holy Ground” sound like WT‘s moment of overachievement – it hints at “And We Run” but its lack of a musical spine (albeit experimental) makes the track anything but memorable. “Mercy Mirror” and My Indigo’s takeout called “Firelight” (feat. Jasper Steverlinck, Sharon’s colleague from the Belgium TV show Liefde voor Muziek) are light years away from the stylish emotional ballad that fans of the band worship to this day. While “In Vain” is an interesting darker track with a lacking chorus, “Mad World” sounds like a fairly energized single, followed by “Trophy Hunter” – a questionable choir invested piece, at best.
The conclusion one draws from Resist is no different – after months of thorough listening, the record comes across as a compromise. The symphonic comeback would’ve been received better, especially if it was backed up by more (a LOT more) guitars and solos. The end of the collaborations is long overdue and it can no longer make up for the lack of the magical intensity that WT was known for. Despite that, the band has gone down in history as one of the most consistent modern acts, capable of overcoming all obstacles with their heads up high. Here’s hoping that Resist will truly bring them the necessary rebirth and clear the way for releases worthy enough to bear the logo of Within Temptation.