22 July 2013

Within Temptation - The Q-Music Sessions

To a lot of people cover albums are little more than a contractual fulfiller; something that requires a lot less work than a ‘proper’ album and takes up a slot of their 4 album deal or whatever. Much like a live album or a greatest hits collection. Personally I love cover albums. I’m a sucker for a good cover version and an album full of them excites me more far more than it should. If it’s a compilation I like to find new versions of songs I know, if it’s a band I’m a fan of, as is this case with Within Temptation, then I hope they’ve wisely and not gone for obvious choices (The World REALLY has no need whatsoever for yet another cover of  Enjoy The Silence or Tainted fucking Love) .

I think it’s a testament to good song writing if a it sounds just as good in a genre completely different to the one it was originally written. And if not then at least they can be funny. I hate it when bands try to make it as close to the original as possible, particularly when singers attempt to sound like the original singer too. What’s the point? Congratulations, you’ve made a song that’s really similar, but not as good, as the original. Explain why I should bother listening to it.

  When I saw that, Dutch Symphonic Metal band, Within Temptation (For more info See Marc’s review of The Silent Force HERE. Or go to their Wiki page)  were releasing one I was fair awash with delight; The only cover I’d heard them do in the past was Kate Bush’s Running Up That Hill which worked really well and I was keen to hear more. Regarding the songs to be covered, with Within Temptation being a European Gothic Metal band I was expecting the usual suspects: An Iron Maiden cover, Maybe some Black Sabbath, Queen, possibly a Mercyful Fate song even. There’d be the odd curve ball like a Madonna song or something maybe, I couldn’t have been more wrong.

The Q-Music Sessions is a collaboration between the band and a Belgian radio station called, well I'll just leave you to ponder that for yourselves, to celebrate Within Temptation’s 15 year anniversary. The Idea was that, every week for 15 weeks, they would record a popular song to be played on air that Friday. 11 of the 15 songs (More on that later) were compiled for this album.

Among the bands covered are OneRepublic, Gnarls Barkley, Enrique Iglesias, Lana Del Rey, David Guetta, Bruno Mars and Frankie Goes To Hollywood.

It’s interesting to hear big symphonic versions of songs like Titanium and Grenade, the music translates well into guitar riffs and Sharon Den Adel has a voice with a range that handles any soaring melodies with grace and clarity. Standout tracks are Radioactive (Imagine Dragons) and Don’t You Worry Child (Swedish House Mafia) which seemed like they were always meant to be big, gothic stadium rock songs. Crazy, by contrast is a minimalistic piano ballad that lends it added poignancy.
Apologize and Let Her Go are the albums low points, both being a little dull and forgettable.

I think the reason this album works so well is the fact they’ve played it straight; The songs have been reworked carefully and the performance of each is entirely serious. I think if they’d gone for laughs this album would be a novelty that got a couple of plays and left but instead it’s a really strong one and a worthy addition to their albums proper.

Irritatingly the best four songs from the project were left off the album due to copyright issues. Skyfall by Adele is perfect, all bombast and theatrics. The main riff that permeates through the entire song is a deviation of the James Bond theme which is a nice touch, Somebody That I Used To Know is barely recognisable until the chorus, much more upbeat and rocky. Little Lion Man is the weakest of the quartet, probably being better suited to the indie folk of the original. Paradise (Originally by Coldplay) is fantastic, already a perfect Stadium anthem, it’s taken to metalisation extremely well.

It’s a shame these four songs weren’t included on the album, if only so the track listing ran 15 titles in keeping with the original theme. They are all knocking about on the internet if you wanted to find them. Legally of course.

6 out of 10 for the 11 track version

8 out of 10 if the 4 extra songs were on it

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