by Martin Popoff

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Fresh Metal

Rendered Waters

Given that the band has admirably evolved from hair farmers with a Zeppelin shtick through to almost exclusively cool, classy, heavy albums more than 20 years on... you gotta give props to Lenny Wolf and his tenacity with the name and his tireless proof that he's a metalhead, one of us. Rendered Waters features eight re-recordings/re-arrangements of catalogue tracks through the years, including up at the end, a jewel in Stone Fury's 'Break Down The Walls', pre-chorus and chorus lifting and separating, nip an' tucking. The project works as a unified record because of Wolf's dirty, doomy, grand 'n' grungy approach to recording, with echoey drums and gritty guitar textures; in fact, it's an acceptable idea simply because Wolf has always been thoughtful about recording techniques and he applies the expected elbow grease here. So half heavy/half melodic new things like 'Is It Fair Enough' and 'Don't Remember' fit perfectly, as does 'Blue Trees', featuring beat-up by boomy drums and raucous deliveries at the axe end. Ironically, the band comes full circle with this Zep albatross, Wolf now reflecting the brave and creative qualities of Plant and his restless seeking, and not simply Led Zep cliches put through a corporate ringer.
Rating 7

The Unforgiving

Long-awaited, after four years and a couple of babies later, The Unforgiving finds Within Temptation shedding symphonic goth rock clichˇs and bravely grasping for the brass ring. Despite the potentially uncommercial idea of creating a concept album, this is one, nonetheless, that kids can handle, being based on a comic book written for the project, by Steven O'Connell of Dark 48 and BloodRayne fame. The look is carried over to the sleeve and the attendant text, while the songs eschew too much noodling, going straight for the smash hit jugular, especially on 'Faster', which is a microcosm of the album's penchant for anthemic arena rock choruses circa the '80s. Ha! Tried to figure out why I knew this song so completely, and it's 'cos I listen to UK's Planet Rock at work all day, the ersatz internet classic rock station evidently taking quite a shine to this Heart-reminiscent fist-pumper. Keyboards and synths come in 31 flavours, but, generalization ventured, there's a logical retro feel (circa Evergrey, Soilwork, Dark Tranquillity) to go with the tall-haired '80s histrionics of Sharon den Adel, who sells it well, stamping on the band a sense of confidence as they ride the wave of this type of music continuing to do well.
Rating 6

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