Sharon Den Adel

Within Temptation feat Xzibit – And We Run (Review)

I’m not always one to do reviews, but on the odd occasion something will catch my eye and get my thoughts motivated, whether it’s good or bad today it’s Within Temptation’s latest music video.

Featuring the American rapper Xzibit, the song And We Run has been the marmite of the symphonic metal band’s latest album Hydra. So when it was announced that And We Run would become the fourth the single, fans everywhere pricked their ears up in anticipation. Would it be a success or would it fall flat and make the band rethink a few things when it comes to singles and the music videos? At the moment it’s 50/50 but fans are thankful that it’s not another lyric video which many other bands seem to be doing at the moment. Anyway back to the music video itself, honestly I was more skeptical of it than I was excited because Within Temptation have fallen in to the symphonic metal cycle of cheesy video plot-lines and cheap CGI to make you want to have a sick bucket passed over  just incase it becomes too much. So when I finally sat down to watch the video for And We Run, I was left on the fence.

Starting with the overall tone of the video, it’s clearly a tribute to one of their more infamous video Ice Queen with the similar backgrounds of a futuristic space and the band standing on what looks like an asteroid and Sharon dressed beautifully in a white Jan Boelo custom-made dress. The only difference between this and Ice Queen is of course Xzibit’s part in the video, to which I was thoroughly surprised at because it seems like he was in it more than Within Temptation themselves. I applaud him for actually fully committing himself and going with the idea of him trying to break free from darkness and run in to the light but this is where I feel the video is also a let down. It felt like it was Xzibit featuring Within Temptation, when it should have been the other way around. Maybe it would have worked better if Sharon and Xzibit had swapped roles or even had some more interaction, as by the time the song ends it’s just been cuts between two stories again. To me this is what made Paradise (What About Us) featuring Tarja Turunen an epic video because of the interaction between singers, not only in the performance but in the story telling of two women creating a better world.

This not to say I didn’t enjoy And We Run at all, because that would be a lie, I actually think the quality of the CGI has vastly improved and Xzibit running through the rain in slow motion is visually great. Even the space scenes behind Sharon and the rest of the band is great along with the contrast of dark and light but I don’t always want to see a band just perform in a video, thats what the concerts are for. I like to see them tested a little more in the way of their acting skills, even if it’s just something small, it would have vastly improved the finished product. The plot overall felt like it was climbing to something great but come the end I felt like it never quite got there and finished on an anti-climax. There was no resolution and I felt it was incomplete. This may have something to do with the song itself as it’s the shortest one (running time) from the album and to me if the song had been a minute longer it could have become one of the standouts from Hydra. Either way, if your a fan of this song your going to love the video and if your not, your probably going to despise it. Where the video fails in places however, the live version of And We Run makes up for it. No matter what you’ll be pumping your fist in the air and belting out the chorus with Sharon as the song has something inside of it that you just can’t quite get out of your head. Whether you love or hate it, it’s here to stay and become a part of Within Temptation’s history.

Desktop wallpaper: Hydra

I’m back after a hiatus away from writing (major writers block and laziness) and to kick-start my first post, I’ve got back in to making a brand spanking new desktop wallpaper.

It’s called Hydra as it’s based on Within Temptation’s gorgeous new album cover  along with a high recommendation everyone should listen to the album. I haven’t done too much to it apart from add some major flames behind the beast. Simple and clean was what I was going for as well as reflecting the album itself which is a monster, filled with references to fire, power and fantasy. If you’re a fan and want to download this wallpaper, feel free to by clicking on the picture and you’ll be transported to my DeviantArt account.

Hydra

Sharon den Adel by Paul Harris

Dutch symphonic metal band Within Temptation (you may have heard of them if you read my blog often) are about to release their new album and of course with that comes promotion and photo shoots.

The latest being for Metal Hammer magazine with the lead singer Sharon den Adel gracing the cover with two beautiful and unique outfits that fit perfectly with the bands music. The first being a beautiful long dress with an intricate rose design across one half of the bust that looks like a vine of roses has grown up on to her. What I love about this is if you have listened to the demos and read the track list for Hydra, the mention of roses crops up at least twice and most likely will in other songs. It’s clear to see that this may have been the inspiration for this particular outfit, if not a fantastic coincidence. To soften the look Sharon has a simple white feather boa laced within her hair to give that period feel that still feels relevant and modern. For the second outfit (and my favourite) Sharon has returned to her classic look of a unique corset that this time has a wonderful layout of flowers in shades of yellow and pink to make it stand out from the base of a simple white corset. What really stands out though is the big head piece made from a deer antlers, never before has been so bold for a shoot (to my recollection). Somehow it all comes together and I’d like to say this is most likely designed by Jan Boelo who Sharon has worn many times before, but I could be wrong, either way I think Sharon looks gorgeous and photographer Paul Harris has captured her perfectly. The photos I’m going to post are my Tumblr edits and not the originals but I think they still capture the dress designs really well.

WT2

WT3

WT1

 

Bad music video or high expectations?

This question has riddled my mind since yesterday afternoon when my favourite band, Within Temptation released their second music video, Dangerous from their anticipated new album Hydra.

Featuring Howard Jones (former singer of Killswitch Engage) and the small teaser trailer earlier on in the week, the song Dangerous was looking to be a knockout. The perfect follow-up to Within Temptation’s first single Paradise (What About Us?) which was a phenomenal hit with fans. When the music video for Dangerous was released yesterday, fans instantly flocked online to see it and I’ll admit I was really looking forward to this, but how wrong I was. At first I thought the beginning of the video was an advert for base jumping (courteous of YouTube’s usual adverts), until the credits started rolling and the music kicked in, I soon realised this was it for the video. Sudden cuts between the adrenaline of base jumping and the band alongside Sharon rocking out in a studio with raw lighting and slow motion action to catch the essence of the fast past and hardcore melody of the song were happening, but where was Howard Jones? When his first verse shows up, the video suddenly cuts to him singing his lines on a pier in a colder climate somewhere completely unrelated to the theme of the video or song for that matter. Surely things are going to make sense soon? Nope. The video pretty much carried on like this right up until the end, still making little sense in the way of a decent story. Other than the fact it’s about base jumping and how dangerous it can be. Is this all the music director or band could come up with for a music video, where as the song has such rich lyrics and could make great storytelling?

My conclusion is, this was rushed at the last-minute to make a deadline. The editing seems poor and somewhat amateurish, to the point where it could pass for a first time media project by a college student. It goes back to earlier Within Temptation videos where the band just perform in a studio with fancy lighting and different camera angles to make it look great. I’m not saying this is a bad thing but I’ve seen this so many times from their other videos; e.g. Faster and Shot in the Dark. The song itself is actually very good, it’s fast paced, heavy and incredibly catchy, it makes a great second single but the video just lacks creativity. Paradise (What About Us?) seemed to break the curse and show that with the right music directer and creative input they can make a fantastic video that really brings the song to life. I know in the past Within Temptation have back tracked on a video and recreated a second and better video (What Have You Done), so a part of me is hoping this maybe the case at some point. Many fans have been deeply disappointed by this video and it’s easy to understand why. This has nothing to do with the song or album itself because I really do love the song and can’t wait to hear it on the album, but the video is just a big disappointment in my eyes. Perhaps my expectations were a little too high, but I know I’m not the only one who is thinking the same. I hope the band are watching the comments fans are making and learn from this unfortunate mistake and give the song itself a little more justice, because it deserves something so much better for a music video.

What are your thoughts on this? Watch the video and let me know.

Artwork: Desktop wallpaper (Within Temptation)

I haven’t made a desktop wallpaper in a while but today I decided to have a play around with a great hi-res photo of Sharon den Adel and Tarja Turunen from their photo shoot.

I love the original photo so playing around with it and trying to find a happy medium was quite hard, I didn’t want to go too over board with it but I still wanted to put my stamp on it. In the end I decided to stick with what I know best when it comes to textures and colours and for a first time playing with it I’m fairly happy. To me it depicts the song and adds a fantasy element to it whilst not over shadowing the gorgeous photo and Tarja and Sharon. I may have a second play around with it another time, but for now here is my first draft of it. If you want to download it, just click on the art work and it will take you to my DeviantArt page.

Paradise

Photoshop Tutorial – Black and White

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a new photoshop tutorial so I thought I’d do a really simple one that I love doing with turning a coloured photo to black and white.

The difference with this tutorial is you don’t just reduce the saturation down to -100 as the image will just look a boring shade of grey. This tutorial will only take you a few minutes with a few minor changes to really make your new black and white image have some depth to it, so lets begin.

Step 1.
With your image open on a new layer and merged together you’re now ready to go, and the first thing to do is click on the monochrome circle and go to Hue/Saturation. Move the Saturation slider backwards until the number reads -100. Your image will now look grey and in all honesty a bit bleak.

Step 2.
Click on the monochrome circle again and go to Levels. If you’ve followed my tutorials before you’ll know a little bit about this. In a box you’ll have a graph and three numbers underneath it. Above the middle number is a slider, you want to move it backwards until the number underneath reads 1.18. Your picture will now look slightly brighter.

Step 3.
Back to the monochrome circle again and go to Brightness/Contrast. On the Contrast line you want to move the slider forward and the number will go higher. Stop when it gets to 60, and once again your image will change and now look like it has depth to it with both the dark and light areas changing. You now have a black and white image that actually looks good and can pass for a true black and white photo.

Tip.
To me this tutorial works best on concert photography, I’ve done it many times and to me it makes the original photo stand out so much more, but it does work on other photography styles. I find photo’s that don’t have much colour to it like the one above works really well as black and white. But the more you play around with images the more it can work in other areas. Once again it’s all about experimenting and seeing what works well for you.

Within Temptation – New Music!

A while back I made a post about Within Temptation teasing new music. Well at long last it has been released in the form of an EP to keep the fans satisfied whilst the album is still in the making. 

The single taken from the EP is called Paradise (What About Us?) and it features non other than the Finnish power house vocalist Tarja Turunen (former Nightwish singer). For anyone like myself who is a fan of symphonic metal this is a huge deal and Within Temptation haven’t disappointed in their promise. The song is powerful, catchy and full of symphonic metal elements with Sharon and Tarja’s voices blending beautifully together. If you haven’t seen the video, I strong suggest you watch it, it’s epic in itself with a twist halfway through that will make you see why this duet is perfect. For years fans have always compared the two singers and wished for them to do duet so now that it’s here everyone is raving about it. I myself love it, I think it’s a fantastic opener for the next phase of Within Temptation, but at the same time the demo’s that accompany this song are a real stand out, and here’s why.

The Unforgiving was in itself ground breaking for the band, they mixed pop and dance elements in to their songs and many enjoyed it, but a lot thought it was too commercial. Gone were the dark and heavy rifts that made their music extraordinary, the epic stories that unfolded in the songs seemed to have been dialled down, but has all that changed now? I think so. Paradise (What About Us?) is the opening to Within Temptation going back to their roots and that carries on in to the first demo Let Us Burn. It’s another powerful song but filled with more angst, Sharon’s vocals are strong and you instantly feel connected to the song as your mind thinks up many different scenarios. It’s a song that would have fitted in perfectly with The Silent Force/The Heart of Everything era. Of course it keeps getting better as Silver Moonlight has grunts again! This is something that hasn’t been done since The Silent Force, it mixes the new sound of Within Temptation with the catchy melodies and the old fast paced beats as Robert takes to the mic once again to bring that darkness back to the band that made them so popular to begin with. Personally it’s my favourite song of the EP and for a demo it’s incredibly impressive. The last song is Dog Days which slows down everything and gives us a classic ballad that Within Temptation are so good at. The intro is strong with a beautiful piano melody to start everything off and as soon as Sharon begins singing you know you’ll be an emotional wreck by the end of it. The lyrics are simple but incredibly infectious and affective, I don’t think you need much more as it all comes together beautifully.

These songs may only be a glimpse of what’s to come from Within Temptation, but I can honestly say it’s promising and the band have kept to their word. You can really feel the old sound coming back stronger than other with hints of their more recent sound and it’s beautiful. I believe this new album will exceed The Unforgiving and bring the band back to what we all know and love about them. There’s a reason why they are the most successful Dutch symphonic metal band and this just clarifies that, and let’s remember these are just demo’s and one single. Not many bands are known for making demo’s sound like completed songs, and I really cannot wait to hear more and say I am a fan of Within Temptation.

Within Temptation tease new video and music!

My all time favourite band Within Temptation have given fans a teaser of their new music video for their new album, and once again it has left many fans excited and intrigued.

The video itself is just over 20 seconds long and mainly features clips of the upcoming music video, but it’s the song itself that is rather exciting. There are no lyrics, just pure instrumental that builds up to an explosion of classical symphonic metal. It’s been a while since Within Temptation have revisited this style as The Unforgiving was more rock with elements of symphonic metal. Listening to this new clip takes me right back to the old days of band where the songs were long, dramatic, full of classical tones and heavy guitar rifts. The Heart of Everything displayed this sound perfectly and was one of the bands most defining albums. With Sharon having already hinted the new album will be heavier and the potential for grunts making a return, are Within Temptation going back to their roots? I hope so, but I hope they blend old and new and just maybe the new album will blow everyone’s expectations and be the best album they’ve ever produced. All we can do is keep watching for the next few weeks and see what the band unfold, either way it’s an exciting time in the Within Temptation fandom.

Designer – Jan Boleo

This isn’t some sort of strange musical collaboration that Within Temptation have suddenly done that I’m about to blog about, but a fashion one instead.

For the last year or so Within Temptation well mainly Sharon Den Adel (singer) has been wearing some very notable and gorgeous dresses during the bands live performances. Since summer 2012 Sharon has been spotted wearing two dresses from the same designer. It wasn’t until I looked at around that I stumbled on to the designer named Jan Boelo who has some stunning collections. Since then, Sharon has worn numerous designs and more notably for Within Temptation’s big concert (Elements) last November where all her dresses were by Jan Boleo. What I love the most is that these dresses are one of a kind and the slightly different versions are just as gorgeous, if not more so and I can I see why Sharon loves the designer. It fits in perfectly with band’s overall look along with the music and of course, bigger is better. Here are the different dresses Sharon has worn and the designs on the catwalk from Jan Boelo himself.

Sharon wearing Jan Boelo at Within Temptation gigs.

Sharon wearing Jan Boelo at Within Temptation gigs

Jan Boelo spring/summer 2012 runway and lookbook versions.

Jan Boelo spring/summer 2012 runway and lookbook versions.

The two most infamous dresses Sharon has worn by Jan Boelo, the silver one seems to be her favourite and the one she has worn the most. The two below are the same but in black and the look book version seems to have more ruffles on the shoulder than the runway version. It’s clear that the ones Sharon wears were specially made for her. Onstage they both look fantastic and perfect against the lighting, really adding more dimensions to Sharon’s infamous dance moves.

Jan Boelo

Jan Boelo spring/summer collection 2012

I actually thought this design was another one of a kind that Sharon wore specifically for the opening of Within Temptation’s show Elements, when in fact it isn’t. It’s actually from the spring/summer collection, the only difference is the coat and belt. It’s a simple and stunning design that can look completely different from one another.

Sharon wearing other Jan Boelo designs.

Sharon wearing other Jan Boelo designs.

As for the last three, I believe only the corset look is one of a kind and for the last two it’s hard to tell as I can’t find the runway looks for these two. It’s very likely they are as I know Sharon tweeted a lot about having design meetings so these could be a collaboration with Jan Boelo rather than something straight from the runway.

As you can tell Jan Boelo is very much haute couture but also has a great range of high end fashion for an every day look. There are a lot of rock and metal elements in his designs, using striking dark colours and even bright bold colours. To see his designs used on stage rather than on a red carpet is gorgeous and Sharon Den Adel from Within Temptation wears them beautifully and really brings these unique pieces to life. I love the fact that throughout any of Jan’s collections, there is a dramatic and gothic tone that still looks chic and stunning, he’s clearly trying to blend different genres of fashion to make these one of a kind pieces that just scream, dark, bold, edgy and yet again dramatic. It’s so easy to see why Sharon wears and adores Jan Boelo designs, they are a match made in heaven in the terms of fashion and have continued to keep the vision of Within Temptation burning brightly for all the fans who love seeing the band put on a spectacular show time and time again.

Delain – Interlude

Here I am again, reviewing another album, well “special album” from Delain as they have recently released some new material under the name Interlude.

I’ll admit I was pretty lazy at downloading this new “special album” as I had listened to the previews a few weeks before and I wasn’t overly thrilled by them. Then Within Temptation released The Q Sessions album and I got lost in that for a few weeks. Anyway on Monday I decided to take the plunge and download Interlude and I have to say, so far I’m impressed by it. The two new overall are fresh and mix old and new Delain very well along with the covers and the live songs is an added bonus for those wanting to get to know the band and their sound a little more. As usual I shall give you a run down of the songs along with my opinions followed by a lovely conclusion and my final thoughts over all. What’s great about the idea behind this album is that ideally it was released to make up for all the crap Delain got put through with their last record company and We Are The Others almost being put on the back burner for good. The band really wanted to make up for it and now that they are with Napalm Records, the band are busier than ever and their popularity is once again growing.

Interlude starts off with two new songs and to kick things off is a fantastic song called Breathe on Me which starts off with Charlotte whispering over and over as a drum beat kicks in building the song up. In a moments notice the song is underway and the powerful chorus becomes embedded in your mind, probably for the rest of the day too. How can that song be matched you think? None other than Collars and Suits and if you loved the powerful symphonic music of Lucidity, this song will take you back to that album. It’s a stunning blend of old and new with the powerful orchestra being a strong presence throughout. If Delain can do this with one song, imagine an entire new album sounding like this. Perhaps it will be a stronger presence on their next album? I am ever hopeful. Ok back to track 3, which in all honesty I wish was added to the end of the track list. It’s Are You Done With Me? but a new remixed version. In all honesty I don’t notice the difference between the two and I tend to skip it. I think the only difference is the last half of the song, I may have to pay more attention to it. Such a Shame is a powerful melodic ballad talking about disappointment and not knowing which way to turn the melody is catchy and resembles the feel of their new material. Moving on we now have two cover versions the first one is Cordell (by The Cranberries) which is a beautiful ballad about death, Charlotte sings it beautifully it’s nice to see the band strip this song back and use less heavy guitar rifts. The second is Smalltown Boy (by Bronski Beat) which I had no idea was covered but now I’ve looked it up the melody makes sense. The guitar rifts and heavy synths on this song really make it fresh and current. I can’t complain really, heck I shouldn’t be if I’ve been listening to Within Temptation covers lately. With the new tracks out-of-the-way the last studio song is the ballad version of We Are The Others which I think is absolutely beautiful. So much so I think it’s better than the album version. The lyrics suddenly mean so much more and the children’s choir being less of a presence is twice as powerful. We all know the story behind it and to me this song works so well slowed down.

That concludes the studio songs and introduces the live recordings, starting with Mother Machine which is my favourite. It’s also Delain’s intro song to their concert and the extended version is fantastic. I love the use of the orchestra in the beginning to build the atmosphere. With a select few live songs used on this album including Get The Devil Out Of Me, Milk and Honey and Not Enough it really shows off how well the band are at performing live. They clearly use minimal backing tracks and keep everything as authentic as possible. Charlotte’s vocals are stunning and don’t fade in to the background like some singers do. She can command the audience like many of her fellow symphonic metal vocalists (Sharon Den Adel and Simone Simons) and the band actually sound a lot heavier live. On their albums they can come across as borderline melodic rock than symphonic, so I was very happy to hear more power and depth in the songs. Sadly though I do have a few niggles with Interlude, like Are You Done With Me? I don’t think I need to repeat why, the live track list is great but I wanted to hear a few more older songs. Especially from Lucidity, I know they still perform them live so to not hear them was a slight disappointment. Overall this special album is great but it’s not got a big wow factor to it like their previous had. I know it’s not an entirely new album but more of a filler before they release a new album later on/early next year, but to me something is missing. The new songs themselves are an absolute standout, and I have a feeling this is the direction of where the band is heading, if so I think it’s great. The live songs give you a glimpse in to their performances and if you’re thinking of seeing them perform near you, this will make up your mind. Like the title of the album says, it’s only an inbetween of two phases of the past and the future. We see two acts play out and with the future in the forefront I know that Delain still have a lot more to offer and with news of a new album in the works, I know they’ll wow us all once again. If you’re a fan of Within Temptation as well then don’t forget Delain are supporting them on some of their 2014 tour dates, so go and see them live, I know I will be and I cannot wait.

Interlude