On their new, fifth album, symphonic metal vets Within Temptation benefit from taking a few risks. From a folky take on the ballad “Lost” to frontwoman Sharon den Adel's raw, Korn-esque vocals on “Murder,” the group retains the enormous, romantic string sections they're known best for, but with a twist. “Faster,” for instance, incorporates dance beats that would sound more familiar on a Madonna record than in a metal song. The group's experimentation peters out, though, as they occasionally revert to boring, radio-friendly hard rock. The “In the Middle of the Night,” for instance, begins with a Papa Roach–esque riff and has a chorus that sounds like one from a hair-metal hit, and the guitar solo on “A Demon's Fate” is as uninspired as the Phantom of the Opera rip-off chords that close the song. If one thing saves these lesser tracks, it's den Adel's overall spectacular vocal performance. With an infinitely talented voice, the singer belts passionately on songs like “Lost,” where she sounds eerily similar to the late Ronnie James Dio, just with a lot more estrogen. While her vocals alone are unlikely to gain Within Temptation too many new listeners, fans who have stuck with the band throughout their career will likely forgive The Unforgiving's occasional missteps. CODY THOMAS
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