Music Reviews: The Silent Force

= Within Temptation: Silent Force ==

This is one of my favorites,. it explores great depths of feeling within a symphonic rock framework. Much of it is very sensuous, often ecstatic, with moments of real beauty, but often within a very dark atmosphere sinking at times into gloom and desperation. Very Gothic.

My rating:  A++


Within Temptation is a Dutch band described as symphonic metal or gothic metal, or recently tagged as "Gothic Nu-Metal".

Within Temptation’s website describes the band as  “Dutch Gothic Rock band Within Temptation”

The Band:

Guitar, Composer - Robert Westerholt
vocalist - Sharon den Adel, a great voice,  with a higher register than other similar lead-vocalist.
Bass - Jeroen van Veen
Keyboards - Martijn Spierenburg
Guitar - Ruud Adrianus Jolie
Drums - Stephen van Haestregt

--WIthin Temptation's CDs
Enter (1997) - their first album, is metal/gothic (with growling)

The Dance (1999) - an EP (a couple new songs, remixed others)

Mother Earth (2003) - big, more "operatic", with symphonic and Celtic elements. Great!

The Silent Force (2004) - less "operatic", more "popish" , with an orchestration that sounds at times like a Gothic film score.

-------The Silent Force----------

This sound is not too far removed from the style of Sara Brightman., but the lyrics, emtions and guitar define it as "Goth".

Silent Force, is dark, very direct and less technical (instrumentally, especially the guitars).  I like it the best of all their work. I find it magnificent with grandeur; with refrains and melodies are beautifully heavy and addictive. I think this is the best, most natural integration of rock and classical orchestrations that I know.. the "classical" orchestra, strings, chorus never sound foreign or out of place.  I would have thought the over-use of the choir would wear thin by the last song.. but it doesn't because of the variety of range and arrangements..

Songs, with so many hooks, a great atmosphere with always shifting textures, very catchy, often caressing melodies (with some wonderfully delicate, sensitive moments); that plus Sharon’s beautiful voice creates an often spellbinding experience. Even with so much "beauty" and many slow songs it feels like a tense (if not "intense") journey, filled with moments of foreboding, significance, wonder and awe. The best of what "Goth" can be in.

The care given to, and depth of the arrangements is absolutely remarkable, creative, often delicate, colorful, with varied shadings.
I marvel at the sound (and often sensuousness) of the arrangements.

The choir's singing in the background is addictive, varied, sometimes epic, angelic.

It seems that the songs deepen as they progress through the CD. All songs have nearly the same (predictable) form, but it works.

(A) verse
(B) bridge.. building to..
(C) chorus
(A) verse (with varied accompaniment)
(B) bridge
(C) chorus
(D) new section, new melody..
(C) coda

There's not a bad song on the CD, so I rate them all, at least +

===Song List================and my rating ========Scale 0 to 4 ====2=good 3=great 4 = exceptional ===========
1. Intro ++
2. See Who I Am ++
3. Jillian (I'd Give My Heart) +++
4. Stand My Ground ++++
5. Pale ++++
6. Forsaken +++
7. Angels ++++
8. Memories ++++++++++++
9. Aquarius ++beginning
10. It's the Fear ++
11. Somewhere +++++++

includes 2 bonus songs.. not on the original pressing

12. Dangerous Mind
13. Swan Song

=================== listening notes -======================

------1. "Intro" -----------------------
(A) A dark, powerful opening with full choir (the language could be Latin, but I can't distinguish any text) and strings, chimes, percussion, brass set the dark mood.

(B) Then suddenly.. a quieting, (like the clouds parting, and the sun appearing) Sharon's voice enters, so beautifully, totally pulls us into the music...this moment

.. the music could be an opening to a great symphonic work, a Mass or Requiem, a gothic musical.. it is both Serious and Sensual, grabbing our attention, opening our feelings and senses for the experience that lies ahead.

(leads directly into the next song)

-----2. "See Who I Am"-----------------------------------------
Now a great, awesome start for the album.

Lyrics may be addressed to a lover, about keeping/nurturing their love, but it also has a second level of meaning, similar that of "Passion" on the "Embrace the Storm" CD, addressing the listener, she invites us to experience the fullness of life.

Lyrics:: "See who I am..are we too blind ..Fear of the unknown clouds our hearts today".. "break through the surface"

This song starts powerfully, square in our face with a wonderfully impassioned, stunning intro sequence. The guitars, drums, chorus and orchestra are in full force here and the punchy driving rhythm holds our attention. The introduction builds to a huge sound and cadence.

Song Form
(I) intro
(A) "Is it true" a more delicate mellow verse with the angelic voice
(A2) "come into my world" (bouncy rhythm)
(B) "We’ve been dreaming " the bridge becomes heavier
(C) "See who I am" and the chorus .. strong, denser, thumping, growling chorus
..drums...transition back

(A) "fear" .. adds great drumming
(A2) "into your world"
(B) "we just can't stop" ..
(C) "See who I am" chorus

(D) "Hear the silence.." new section; driving, impassioned rising string lines ..
(E) .. wordless.. (harp, howling wolf calls)
(C) coda , builds "The world is in our hands" to the climax and ends with the same cadence as the introduction.

-------3. "Jillian" (I'd Give My Heart) -----------------------
A very strong song. (I love the bass line) Lyrics about life's lesson, the soul's growth, regrets.

A quiet, mysterious beginning with soft chorus, a distant horn calls, we hear a clock-like ticking
and the heart-beat (representing time, life, a calling to the soul)

..then a sudden string tremolo/crescendo leads to the full choir singing over strings and a great driving bass line.

(A) "I've been dreaming".. Sharon singing is very sweet,
(B) "Will I always".. but then grows more intense,
(C) "I'd Give my Heart" . The Chorus, choir, bass line, melody reaches Sharon's higher register

(A) "I've been living" melody in Sharon's higher register
(B) "I've seen the horror"
(C)"give my heart.."

(D) new section.. "Jillian our dream ended " reflective..sensitive and loving.. "We won’t be together..I'll always be here" builds to the

(C) instrumental/chorus (textless voice)
(C) "give my heart.." builds, rising even more (even denser orchestration) to the great climax.. powerful and stirring

---------4. "Stand My Ground" --- +++++ ----------------------------------
This has a great music video (included on the CD)
A wonderfully catchy song... great melody, singing, lyrics, arrangement.

(I) Begins with a expressive oboe melody (over strings/harp).
A sweet sound, that draws us into the song. (I was astonished at the care given to the accompaniment. The pizzicato strings, the soft gong, the wind chimes.. each adds to build the atmosphere, sensuous sound)

.. then loud drums/guitar..chorus, orchestra (driving) concludes the introduction

(A) ("I can see..") Great opening sensitive vocal over arpeggios, string,
the lyrics establish a dark mood ("..nothing happens..Late at night..haunt my mind")
(B) ("I just know there’s no escape now") the music builds the chorus
(C) ("Stand my ground..") the chorus , just totally wonderful, moving, the high point..

(I especially love the descending line played in the background by the French horns about 1/2 through the section, so sensuous)

(A) ("Its all around..") rearrangement, much stronger (like the lyrics "stronger"), more activity, strings, the choir is wonderful
(B) ...builds
(C) ("Stand my ground..") the chorus (French horns again)
then leads to a new section

(D) ("All I know for sure..") delicate.. it sound like this could lead to a quiet closing for the song.....
but then it turns back, strongly to

(C) ("Stand my ground..") this section is extended
the choir's part is expanded... great!
(C2) (chorus doubles the French horns this time)
(CODA) (epilogue, music like the opening) a beautiful, delicate closing.

I always want to backup and hear it again

----------5. "Pale" --------------------------------------------
Now the pace slows down, with an Incredible, sad, wonderful, beautiful, touching song.
...passionate, sensitive, delicate, Stunning, beautiful, gorgeous, dramatic, absorbing (story)..

I've thought that to write this song, could be worth living for.

To connect most deeply with this song, it is essential that the listener must be aware of the lyrics through out the song (especially in the (C) section, where the lyrics create the peak of feelings, in the quietest moment of music)

Ultimately (for me), the song revolves around one point..
---- The lyrics sing about, how.. Life "is precious", even through the pain.
In the mist of all this sadness, she sings that she knows that "in the end itīs worthwhile,
and that the pain "will slowly fade away" and that .. "It will be alright"

The central question is: does she really believe that ("It will be alright")?
Can she convince herself (and us), that "it is precious..worthwhile"?

the story within the song..
(A).. the world appears empty, desolate.. though she knows it's her feelings that make it appear so.
She feels that she should be able to rise above the pain/loss .. by inner-strength, faith in the future

(B) So she tries to raise her determination (says "have to.." ) and find a belief in the future (but there's no strength in the statement)

(A) in the next verse... it's clear, that she's losing confidence.
Sings "I know, (that I) should realize" ... says that she Should ..but doesn't really "know" (doesn't Believe it)
and sings..."Despite how I feel inside, have to trust it will be alright"
in this verse , the "how she FEELS" is real, stronger, emerging to overpower her hopes

(B) again she tries to raise her determination "Have to try".. (even more intensely)
but it fails...and the music turns.. conflict reaches it's height in the (C) section...
"Oh, this night is too long.
I have no strength to go on. "

here, she is losing hope, admits she can't endure it..
and finding it unbearable..seeks relief... escape.. release...

"No more pain, I'm floating away.
Through the mist I see the face
of an angel, who calls my name..."

here (in the next sentence of lyric) she will find the Truth.. one way or the other.
... and interestingly, she does so at the melodic low-point, in softness.
(If you don't follow the lyrics closely you can miss this transformation)

---- the music--

(I) very brief into, with flute (pan pipes?) gong
(A) "The world seems not the same" (ethereal background, no drums)
"though I know nothing has changed" thoughtful..

(B) "Have to try to break free" gorgeous. a delicate, sensitive, haunting melody.. with nice keyboard (pulsing) and strings accompanying it. (I often replay this section)
.. so beautiful ... absolutely .
(B2) "Have to fight.." soaring strings

brief.. gong, pan pipes and cadence

(A) "I know, should realize" the opening melody, this time with a pulse, rhythmic contrast

(B) "Have to try to break.." soaring strings (larger orchestration, metallic percussion, make it even more beautiful)
(B2) "Have to fight.."
(..pan pipes)

(C) then a new section/melody turns darker "Oh, this night is too long" (descending melody)
lyrics are deep, so touching..."no strength to go on".. (melody descending, descending..)
(C2) "Through the mist." the mood becomes almost unbearable as the melody descends again ("an angel...calls my name")
but then finds a purpose ... "you're the reason I have to stay"
.. so then it can return to:

(B) "Have to try" (a higher pitch level, and rising) .... so love is reason enough... to try.. but the pain remains.
(coda) very brief close.

------6. "Forsaken" --------------------------------------------
An explosive song with an unceasing power of the choir and lead singer in tandem with rocking guitars! Bursting with pomp, right from the start.

(I) "Now the day has come".. soft vocal introduction, linking from the previous song.. then enters the Chorus, heavy guitars enter..

(A) "We live"..
(A2) drumming added
(B) bridge
(C) "Now the day has come".. pulsing guitars, chorus

(A) "the sacrifice" (nice backing vocals)
(B) bridge
(C) "Now the day has come"..
(C) speaking voice..
.. then quieter..seems like the songs going to end here, quietly,
(C coda)...but it picks back up and pushes the song quickly to the end.

-------7. "Angels" ---------------------------------------------
another high point. Great lyrics (very "Goth")

Begins (with a gorgeous string arrangement) as if it will be a soft ballad of love , an angelic voice (gentle backing choir) but the strings opening is dark enough to be foreboding of the direction of the song.

(A) "Sparking angel" .. charming..
But then anger arises..strings/drums, "when you tore me apart"

(B) "You took my heart" and it turns into a angry, crying out.. a great rhythmic melody expresses it well..Emphatic chord changes

(A) "Sparking angel" Now an amazing change of mood, rhythm. (harsh fuzz guitar, darkens)
"I see the angels.." builds to..
(B) "You took my heart"
(B2) more intense , climax, a great burst of emotion and gravitas

transition... solo violin, keyboards

(C) Intense new section... "This world may have failed you" very Electric background..

(B) "You took my heart"
(B2) more intense , climax.. close.

--------8. "Memories" ----------------------------------------------
A slow song .. We feel that we need an easing from the intensity of the previous... HOWEVER...

(intro) quiet introduction.. the music remains dark with the solo violin moaning, grieving... ("memories" whispered)

(A) (snare drum, piano give a brightening) "In this world you tried" lyrics are very moving
pizzicato strings brighten a bit more just before it moves into a

(B) more upbeat pace, ("All of my memories keep you near..") WOW! another knee-weakening moment for me..a heart-touching melody - sad but so cherishing

(A) (snare drum, piano) "Made me promise" lyrics are great
(but now it seems to me that the drums are almost too "trying" to be bright)
return to:
(B) ("All of my memories keep you near..") Great!

(C) "Together".(her voice cracks). .. a wonderful build and intensification returns to (a wonderful, sweeping, soaring strings rising to)

(B) ("All of my memories keep you near..")  very nice...

(Coda) ("All of my memories keep you near..")

[[[[ absolutely stunning for me...!!

now .. if we pause and think about this CD so far.. it started great, intense..and has remain consistently deep, intense, beautiful, moving...

it hasn't slack off at all.. not a weak song .. an amazing creation so far... truly a masterpiece for me..]]]]

(listen again to the violin opening.. almost crying and how the chorus (B) contrasts, so uplifting and sad , both at the same time)

at this point.. we might almost feel , we can't take any more darkness...
We Need a brighter song..

.. but it's not to be..

-------9. "Aquarius" ------------------------------------------
(I) What a great opening.. strings, flute (reminds me of some tragic romantic opera)... , but then an intense, impassioned descending chorus/string melody over guitars , brass, turns dramatic, strong, angry/forceful...

(A) "I hear your whispers" A dark song of need and hunger "taste"

(B) "They say".. growing more intense .. rising to:

(C) "I need you Aquarius" - choir and singer raising the roof with their voices over the guitar and orchestra, (dissonant vocals) electric! climax

(A) "I relinquish" with a new great orchestration, pizzicato strings, high violins

(B) "They say".. growing more intense ..

(C) "I need you Aquarius" - choir and singer raising the roof with their voices over the guitar and orchestra

(A) "I long for you Aquarius" .. thinner texture.. a breath before
(C) "I need you Aquarius"

(Coda) Sharon's voice soaring voice over the strings (the tragic opening music)


------10. "It's The Fear" ---------------------------------------------
No pause, no easing up.
A strong song that invokes the feelings of fear and dread

(A) "It waits for the day" , nice varied string arrangement..
(B) "I fear who"
(C) "Fear of the dark"
(C) "Fear of the dark"
(D) "Long ago it came to me.." new section.
(A) instrumental, sound effects..
(C) "Fear of the dark"

"...Because my fate, is horror and doom..."

-------11. "Somewhere" --------------------------------------------
Such a wonderful ballad. in this music..  the beauty of the music, reflecting the possibility in life of such love; and for encompassing such an experience.

(A) "Lost in darkness". Very slow light texture, very sensitive, beautiful.
then "you're always in my heart" leads to

(B) ("Ill find you somewhere..") this moment, this melody, the feeling.longing. is a beautiful... it certainly it is joyous to feel such love...

(A) "Lost in darkness". echoing. rhythm, beautiful..

(B) ("Ill find you somewhere..") a wonder..  to feel so deeply.. totally alive.. total passion....

(C) "Wherever you are" ... quieting... violin solo...

(B) then gently... this rises from the quiet... ("Ill find you somewhere..")

(B) (coda without voice) chorus, instrumental... even sadder (or more longing) without her voice..

This is the end of the original CD (the last 2 songs are added as a bonus)

--------12. "A Dangerous Mind" -------------------------------------------
An intense song, with a gothic feel.
"Searching.. not right.. I just have to know... While I still have time... Do I have to run? Or hide?! "

A masterpiece. Everything's amazing... The intro, the verses, the lyrics, then the great chorus -- dancing rhythm

(I) quiet opening.."hello".. then suddenly burst out..

(A) "I’m searching for answers"...
(B) "I fear.." bridge to

(C) "It’s in your eyes" .. great beat, dancing rhythm

(A) "I’m searching for answers"... (adds rhythmic guitars)
(B) "as your true colors.."bridge

(C) "It’s in your eyes" .. dancing

(D) new section.. up tempo..."I just have to know" ..a great change of pace..
(transition) reflects the introduction
(C coda) strong ending.

------------12. "The Swan Song" - -----------------------------------------
moving, reflective, longing..

(I) Celtic intro..

(A) "Winter has come"
(B) bridge to..
(C) "Is it a dream?" ... another great chorus .. wonderful

(A) "in my heart.."
(B) "new wings.." bridge to..
(C) "Is it a dream?" ... wonderful

(D) "As I am soaring." new section..

(C) coda.. close


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Updated: November 18, 2011 09:03:14 PM