I’m listening to Within Temptation’s fourth album, The Heart of Everything, and it’s a chore to get through. While I’m on record for saying I could listen to her sing the phone book (not unlike Stevie Nicks, Tori Amos, Alison Krauss, &c.), I expect more.
I first came into them through their third album, which is consummate—so much so that it took a while for me to really appreciate their earlier efforts. But now I see the problem they faced in trying to follow it up: they tried to formulate genius instead of letting it flow. The rough edges and meandering passages of the first two albums are gone, replaced by a tired predictability.
As a lifelong fan of Rush I am intimately familiar with the struggles of great bands that evolve over their career. I don’t blame Sharon den Adel for trying to balance her creativity with commercial success. I only wish she saw the danger of trying to reproduce a sound as opposed to wandering freely. In this way Tori would have been a better guide than Stevie.