The Hydra, a mythological serpent creature from ancientGreece, couldn’t be killed. When one of its many heads was cut off, two more grew in its place...
“It’s like us – undefeatable!” laughs WITHIN TEMPTATION guitarist and songwriter Robert Westerholt. “What’s more, ‘Hydra’ is a perfect title for our new album, because like the monster itself, the record represents the many different sides of our music. This album’s a total reawakening for us – a reinvention. It has some amazing and totally unexpected collaborations. We’ve created a whole new sound and we can’t wait for WITHIN TEMPTATION fans to hear it!”
Hydra, the band’s sixth studio album, offers a stellar cast of guests: Finnish operatic metal diva Tarja Turunen, acclaimed singer-songwriter Dave Pirner of Soul Asylum, metalcore hero Howard Jones (ex-Killswitch Engage, Devil You Know) andU.S.hip-hop icon, actor, and former MTV Pimp My Ride host Xzibit (Alvin Nathaniel Joiner).
Following up on 2011’s Billboard Top 200 album The Unforgiving was no easy task for the Dutch symphonic rock sextet. WITHIN TEMPTATION’s sixth studio album since their 1997 debut, Hydra showcases their fastest & most powerful material. “We’ve looked back over our past albums and taken different elements that we like and brought them back for Hydra,” explains WITHIN TEMPTATION vocalist Sharon den Adel. “We had death metal growls on Enter, but we’ve never used them again – until now. It’s all about new blood and new ideas for us; we need changes in our music so that we can continue to explore in the future. We don’t believe in boundaries.”
WITHIN TEMPTATION showed exactly what they meant by expanding their boundaries by debuting their collaboration with Finnish metal diva Tarja Turunen on the “Paradise(What About Us?)” EP in September 2013. The track is based on the speech given by retired four-star general Peter van Uhm of the Royal Netherlands Army on May 4, 2013 (Dutch Liberation Day) next to theDutchNational Monument. “His speech made a deep impression on us,” remembers den Adel. “His message being that the creation of a better world is only possible when you don’t think about ‘yourself’ or ‘them’ but just think about ‘us’.” And it appears the world responded in-kind. The “Paradise” EP debuted at the #1 position on the iTunes Rock/Metal chart in the U.S. the week of its release and also clinched the #1 spot on the iTunes Rock chart in Finland, The Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, Sweden, and Greece. Additionally, it placed in the Top 5 in theU.K.,Germany,
France,Norway,Switzerland,Austria, andBelgium. The official “Paradise(What About Us?)” music video has amassed over 2.5 million views since its online debut. “We knew that Tarja’s voice would give ‘Paradise’ extra power,” recalls Westerholt. “The way she delivers those high melody lines left us all speechless. There is always a bit of tension created by people on the outside between different bands of the same genre, but we knew that this wouldn’t come between us, and that we’d be able to work together. We had a great time, and the fans responded beyond our expectations.”
Produced by Daniel Gibson, Hydra is set to reveal the full extent of WITHIN TEMPTATION’s musical resurrection. An example of the album’s wide range of musical styles, lyrical themes, and unconventionality is the guest vocal appearance by American hip-hop icon Xzibit, who raps on a song full of yearning, “And We Run.” “Xzibit is amazing!” laughs Westerholt. “He’s a very positive guy with a huge history: he came from a tough background and decided to make something of his life. This song is about how you’ve got to live your life now. He’s rapping at full force on this song, it’s really heavy. We’ve actually planned to have him on a WITHIN TEMPTATION album for a long time, but we never had the right song for him until now. He was perfect because we wanted a real rapper with a deep voice because that would complementSharon’s vocals. He really delivered!”
Sharonadds: “We like Xzibit’s lyrics so we gave him the freedom to write whatever he wanted and he came up with some amazing lines for this song. He brings a new element to WITHIN TEMPTATION that we’ve never had before! It's a new cross-over and we love it! ”
Another soon-to-be fan favorite is “Silver Moonlight,” which Westerholt describes as “the opposite of a love song. It’s about how people have hunted down other people they didn’t understand through the ages, using the metaphor of werewolves. I did some death metal growls and screams on this song. It’s been a long time since I did those, and as soon as I started recording them, I realized why I stopped singing that way... It really hurts! It was fun to do them again, though.”
“Dangerous” was recorded with the former Killswitch Engage and current Devil You Know singer Howard Jones, whose gallant vocals are a perfect fit for den Adel. “I always loved Howard’s voice,” she shares. “He makes the song even heavier than it already is. It’s one of our favorite songs on the record and one of the fastest songs we’ve ever written. It has the most bass drums we’ve ever used, too, and a very fast riff which we doubled with synths. It’s not a typical synthesizer, though – it’s distorted like a guitar, and it’s very aggressive.”
The darkest depths of the human condition are explored in songs such as “Covered By Roses” which Westerholt reveals was inspired by the poet John Keats’ “Ode On Melancholy.” “It’s about the mortality of beauty. Keats said that all beauty must die.” On the inspiration for “Tell Me Why?”Sharonsays: “A traumatic experience recently happened to a close friend of mine. These losses can make you doubt the relevance of a lot of things, and you ask yourself why you’re still here. I think that people in many different situations will relate to it.”
“Whole World Is Watching” features Soul Asylum’s golden-voiced singer Dave Pirner. “I remember when I first heard the song ‘Runaway Train,’” recallsSharon. “I was travelling throughIndiaand I saw the video on MTV Asia. Dave’s voice and lyrics just blew me away. The impact of that song combined with the images ofIndianever left me. When we wrote ‘Whole World Is Watching,’ Dave was at the top of our list. He has such a captivating voice: it made the song exactly how it needed to be. It’s about overcoming setbacks in life; after all, those are what create you. It feels as if the whole world is with you when these things happen. It’s an optimistic song, but dramatic at the same time.”
Hydra goes from strength to strength with its ten tracks, drawing you in, digging deeper, and then letting you go. Westerholt sums it up this way: “This album is about the big things in life and in the world today. We still have our symphonic elements, but it’s much faster and heavier than The Unforgiving. It’s dark, and powerful. It goes in completely different directions – hence the title Hydra, because it represents the different sides of us.”Sharonconcurs: “It’s the best of old and new. Hydra really shows the multiple personalities of WITHIN TEMPTATION. We looked back to our previous work and forward to our future, and we combined those things to make the album.”
On its February 4thU.S.release date, Hydra was the #1 best-selling album on both the iTunes Rock and iTunes Metal charts. Hydra held down the #1 spot on the iTunes Metal chart and #1 on Amazon’s Hard Rock & Metal chart for two weeks in a row. The album debuted at #16 on the American Billboard Top 200 Albums chart its first week, marking the band’s first appearance in the Billboard Top 20. It also secured the #1 position on both the Billboard Top Independent Albums & the Billboard Top Hard Music Albums charts.
At college radio, Hydra had the highest chart debut of the week ranking in the Top 5 on the CMJ Loud Rock chart.
InEurope, Hydra debuted at #1 in The Netherlands and The Czech Republic. It also secured the #2 position inSwitzerland&Finland, #4 inGermany, #6 in theU.K.- the band’s highest entry in that territory to date, and #9 inFrance.
WITHIN TEMPTATION MUSICIANS
Sharon den Adel – Lead Vocals • Robert Westerholt - Guitars Ruud Jolie - Guitars • Stefan Helleblad – Live Touring Guitarist Jeroen Van Veen – Bass • Martijn Spierenburg – Keyboards Mike Coolen – Drums
Hydra, 2014 (Nuclear Blast) • The Unforgiving, 2011 (Roadrunner) The Heart Of Everything, 2007 (Roadrunner) • The Silent Force, 2004 (Sony) Mother Earth, 2000 (DSFA) • Enter, 1997 (DSFA)