Dutch symphonic metallers Within Temptation haven’t been afraid to experiment, develop, transform and even (almost) entirely reinvent their sound across their career spanning almost three decades. The symphonic element very much remains at the core of their music with atmospheric strings and orchestration bringing an ethereal feel across the record. Bleed Out is more personal, more political, and more exposing perhaps than anything that has come before. But, the darkness doesn’t mean it’s all gloom and doom; there’s hope, power and a raging fire to fight for change that permeates through the tracklist.
The tolling bells of We Go To War unveil a sombre tone but there’s also an intriguing sense of anticipation, this album is clearly different to those that have come before. The opener introduces the heavier, djent guitar tones, synths and a modern metal sound that carries across Bleed Out, clearly establishing the new era and styles. Followed by the title track, Bleed Out, is a truly haunting offering in multiple senses. This song delivers a significant impact musically, but its impact is even greater in terms of its explicit message. Expressing the harrowing reality of women fighting for their rights and their lives, it’s a sobering statement against gender-based violence that is still ongoing. Through the release, the themes and power behind them transform across different styles and arrangements. On Wireless, there’s a powerful sense of movement and momentum, a sense of urgency against an approaching darkness—condemning the invasion of Ukraine, it seems there is a lack of lessons being learned from history. The uplifting light of the chorus constructed of synths and soaring vocal lines brings a contrasting sound into the mix, making the arrival of the thundering breakdown feel all the more intense.
A gothic, dystopian-esque sound emerges from Worth Dying For, ethereal choirs are an enticing introudction before the full instrumentation hits. Structurally and stylistically, this track follows more of a symphonic / melodic metal arrangement. Vintage leaning electronics add interesting textural layers, and a guitar solo adds some variety into the mix. Within Temptation introduce something new with Ritual. This seductive offering showcases a side to the band that hasn’t really be revealed before. Highly rhythmic, textural and alluring, the vocal effects add an unexpected twist. It’s fascinating to see how versatile the band’s sound can be as they adapt these previously less explored themes and transform them into their identity. Cyanide Love switches up the pace with a slow tempo that emphasises the drama and the heaviness of the instruments. Technical guitar riffs interspersed throughout add effective details, while the progressive edge bass lines maintain movement in the lower tones.
The atmospheric, mysterious mood of The purge soon explodes into a synth-fuelled soaring chorus, with the catchy and disturbing lyrics “Can’t you see it’s taking over, over me”. Greeted by a dystopian voice over, Don’t Prey For Me’s shadowy atmosphere, driving rhythms and compelling orchestration carries a message against forcing fears and beliefs onto others. Change is a natural and necessary part of life. In Shed My Skin, featuring Annisokay, the anthemic chorus, uplifting progressions aptly convey the challenges but also the relief of accepting change. Vocal harmonies between Sharon den Adel and Annisokay’s Christoph Wieczorek work beautifully with their very different vocal textures enhancing each other. The punk-rock attitude of Entertain You, sees an attack of punchy rhythms and high energy. Again, it’s something different, adding further diversity to the album and packing a pretty hefty punch. Unbroken concludes Bleed Out with a final war cry. With a ballad-esque feel, style-wise, this track has a softer delivery in terms of the emotion with the lyrics coming across as more intimate and personal. Acknowledging both the light and the dark, the heaviness remains while an uplifting sense of hope is prevalent.
Filled with a fire burning in protest about ongoing injustice that remains throughout our world, Bleed Out is also a gripping and captivating album musically. It’s fantastic seeing the band continue to push their creativity, venturing into previously untread territory and incorporating it into what they do best. Within Temptation are well and truly carving out their own path. Bleed Out is an open, unfiltered, and outspoken album staring directly in the face of ongoing horrors—enough is enough.
For fans of: Evanescence, Delain, Annisokay
‘Bleed Out’ by Within Temptation is released on 20th October on Force Music.
Words by Holly Royle