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I Actually Didn't Like It...

I was disappointed with Within Temptation's latest CD, "The Unforgiving," the first time I listened to it. The only song I really liked on the first hearing was "Shot In The Dark"; the rest was meh. This was sad, as I adored their previous two CDs, "The Heart Of Everything" and "The Silent Force," and though it was a bit goofy I also liked "Mother Earth." (I didn't care for "Enter"; it's just way, way too silly and early an effort. The more they move from synthesized music to a real orchestra and choir, the better they get.)


I hadn't been expecting a new CD yet though I kept on the lookout for one; I came across "The Unforgiving" by accident. I thought the cover art was kind of strange, not in keeping with what they've done before; and I was nervous on reading that it was a concept album having something to do with a comic, I believe. I liked how Within Temptation was already; I didn't want them to go and change! But the reviews insisted that if one liked their previous efforts, they'd like this, and I figured that since it's Within Temptation it MUST be good, so I pre-ordered it at Amazon; I figured Wal-Mart wouldn't bother picking up something so good. (It was an anomaly that I found "The Heart Of Everything" at Wal-Mart, my first exposure to Within Temptation, which I only bought because I went to Amazon after seeing it on the shelf and listened to samples. I've been burned too many times by interesting jacket art and then lousy screamo music. Surprisingly, "The Unforgiving" did show up in the "New Music" section at Wal-Mart. Go figure. They never did pick up the reissues of "The Silent Force" and "Mother Earth"...)


As I said, I listened to it, loved the first full song, "Shot In The Dark," and then...meh. That was quite sad. I set the CD aside in disappointment and didn't listen to it again for a while.


Then I got bored enough during the cleaning of my room--an arduous process, as I'm a hoarder and had over a decade of junk to contend with--to listen to CDs as I did so, including a new favorite of mine, The Birthday Massacre. I decided to give "The Unforgiving" another shot. Again, it didn't impress me that much, but I began to listen to it more, and a bit more, and very slowly it started to grow on me. I started listening repeatedly not only to "Shot In The Dark," but to "Fire & Ice." Then "Iron," "Sinead," "Lost," and "Murder" joined the lineup of songs I liked, followed by "Where Is The Edge"; I like "In The Middle Of The Night" and "Faster," though not as much as the rest; "A Demon's Fate" and "Stairway To The Skies" haven't grown on me yet (for some reason I can never seem to get all the way through "Stairway To The Skies," though it can't be the length of it, since I like long songs; the fact that it's last on the CD might have something to do with it). (I'm not counting "Why Not Me" as it's not so much a song as an intro.)


I used to have the rather embarrassing but cathartic habit of turning off my lights and listening to my music fullblast in the dark, imagining--and physically acting out, albeit in a restrained manner--scenes from my various written and unwritten stories; all the music I liked would provide the soundtrack to videos in my head. I especially liked imagining "movie trailers" of my stories, with all their melodrama. I stopped doing that when I stopped being nocturnal, though I miss the habit. It's not as fulfilling, but when I take the cat outside and have to keep an eye on him, I sometimes put on my headphones and carry my CD player around, listening to a particular CD, imagining my stories, though solely in my mind, so nobody can see me doing anything weird. As I walk around in circles to keep myself moving and give myself something to do physically, I'm actually jumping from buildings, striding across bridges, engaging in car chases, examining crime scenes, or doing whatever other random story bits happen to be going through my head.


Lately "The Unforgiving" is the CD I've been playing over and over when I go outside. One of my unwritten stories starts out with the World Trade Center on fire, and one of my police characters rushing to the scene to help. "Lost" provided the perfect soundtrack to this, considering that my character ends up buried alive.


"My hope is on fire
My dreams are for sale
I dance on a wire
But don't want to fail her

I walk against the stream
Fight for what I believe in
I run towards the end
Trying not to give in

She's lost in the darkness, fading away
I'm still around here, screaming her name
She's haunting my dreamworld, trying to survive
My heart is frozen, I'm losing my mind
Help me, I'm buried alive!
Buried alive!

I'm burning the bridges
And there's no return
I'm trying to reach her
I feel that she yearns

I walk against the stream
Fight for what I believe in
I run towards the end
Trying not to give in

She's lost in the darkness, fading away
I'm still around here, screaming her name
She's haunting my dreamworld, trying to survive
My heart is frozen, I'm losing my mind
Help me, I'm buried alive!
Buried alive!

I tried to revive what's already drowned
They think I'm a fool who can't realize
Hope plays a wicked game with the mind
'Cause I thought that love would bind
I cannot revive what's already drowned
She won't come around

She's lost in the darkness, fading away
I'm still around here, screaming her name
She's haunting my dreamworld, trying to survive
My heart is frozen, I'm losing my mind
Help me, I'm buried alive!
Buried alive!"

(--"Lost," Within Temptation, from "The Unforgiving," 2011)
(Liner notes give "stream" as "strain," but "stream" makes more sense and sounds more like what is being sung.)


Several of the other songs also provide a soundtrack for a later story in this particular storyline; "Shot In The Dark" accompanies a mental "trailer" for a later unwritten novel about a search for missing persons ("I feel you are fading away..."). Since this storyline has been greatly on my mind lately, for quite a while, needless to say I've been giving "The Unforgiving" quite a workout. Should a different storyline take its place in my thoughts, that doesn't necessarily mean "The Unforgiving" will be shelved; I often "recycle" soundtrack songs in my head. In fact, it's common for me to come up with entire scenes based on merely listening to music; I didn't have the aforementioned World Trade Center scene in mind until listening to "Lost."


I was tempted to look around to find out more about the comic the CD is supposedly meant to accompany, but haven't done so yet. What if finding out the true meaning behind the songs ruins my own personal interpretation of them? Whenever I listen to the opening lines of "Lost" I see papers floating through the smoky air and one remaining Tower on fire; goodness knows what the song is REALLY about. Perhaps it's best I never know.


I also listen to the CD on long car drives, including a five-hour trip I recently took to get two teeth removed. I'm listening to this thing so damn much it's a wonder I haven't worn furrows into it yet. I'm wondering if I should have picked up a second copy when it was available at Wal-Mart?


So my initial disappointment was unfounded. Usually, the first listen of a CD is enough for me to determine whether I'll like it or not. Every so often, that's not the case. I'm glad I got bored enough to give "The Unforgiving" another chance. Now I just need to give the poor CD a break before I break it, literally.
tehuti88 tehuti88 31-35, F Aug 16, 2011

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