In the past few years or so, there has been an explosion of metal bands with female vocalists. Along with Within Temptation are Evanescence, Lacuna Coil, Otep, and Arch Enemy. Last May, Within Temptation actually held their first North American tour with Lacuna Coil. From the Netherlands, the Dutch band has been holding strong since 1996, and if my math is right, then that’s 11 years. Not too bad, eh? But the band hasn’t been entirely whole those 11 years. With some sacrifices, the band is left with only three members of the original line-up. Sharon del Adel (vocals), Robert Westerholt (guitar), and Jeroen van Veen (bass). Losing some of their members, the band recruited in three spectacular musicians; Ruud Adrianus Jolie (guitar), Martijn Siedenburg (keyboards), and Stephen van Hastert (drums). Without this line-up, The Heart of Everything would not sound remotely the same as it does.

Opening on the album is “The Howling.” It begins slowly, with Sharon’s soft, melodic vocals soothing the ears of the listener. After the melodic intro, the entire band starts up, instantly proving that the group possesses a heavy side. Once Sharon begins to sing again, I got chills immediately. The back-up vocals that accompany her were chilling to the core. Throughout the track, in the background there are audible vocals that seem to be chanting in an opera style, adding a gothic touch to the music. The bridge is ultimately the heaviest part of the track, as is true with most heavy metal bands.

“The Heart of Everything” is fifth on the album. The title track kicks some serious buttocks! The intro guitar riff is melodic and quite soothing, yet still possesses that gothic feel to it without losing the dark touch. Sharon’s vocals again can easily give chills up the back of the neck, usually when she sings the high notes that are seemingly impossible to do. The bass riff is indeed very audible during the second verse, which was dark to the core. It contributed greatly to the blackness of the music.

Lastly is “Forgiven.” The last song on albums can vary in style, ranging from heavy, loud, and brutal, to just slow and easy-going. Within Temptation decided to go with the slow song; an easy tune to listen to (and it is immensely calming). Sharon has the type of voice that a new born baby would trade his or her own mother’s for! The violin that is played as background music, accompanied with the piano only adds to the softness of the vocals. My recommendation; if any of you ever get really pissed off, just listen to this song.

On the whole, The Heart of Everything may very well be one of their best albums to date. With a variety of styles, it’s no wonder how quickly this album came to be in the Dutch Top 100. Number one in the top 100 to be precise. I give this album a 9.4/10.

Track Listing:

01. Howling
02. What Have You Done
03. Frozen
04. Our Solemn Hour
05. Hear of Everything
06. Hand of Sorrow
07. Cross
08. Final Destination
09. All I Need
10. Truth Beneath the Rose
11. Forgiven

Run Time: 57:07
Release Date: 2007