Lest you think my blog is totally about D&D, here's a random post on music for a change (although not entirely without reference to RPG's).
I've only been a fan of Within Temptation for a fairly short while. The little I'd heard of it earlier hadn't made any lasting impressions, but I finally decided I ought to give it a chance. (Working on my most recent musical RPG might have also contributed to this, as it had a sort of gothic metal theme to it, and I was listening to a lot of this sort of music for inspiration.) The first album I found, frankly, a little boring, but I loved Mother Earth instantly. After that... well, the albums seem to have been growing more and more commercial and 'poppy'. The Silent Force was fairly entertaining, albeit not particularly original, while The Heart of Everything continued with a very similar sound, but impressed even less.
So I wasn't really holding my breath for the new release. Quite the contrary, in fact. When I first heard the single 'Faster', I wasn't impressed. The symphonic elements appeared to be almost completely missing, the riffs had an almost 80's feel to them, and the whole thing seemed rather too pop rock to me.
But now The Unforgiving has been released, and I've actually listened through it several times, and I have to admit I kinda like it. And largely because of the reasons mentioned above. Yes, it's less symphonic, more pop, but somehow it just works. There's some rather catchy tunes in there, and (a little surprisingly) 'Faster' has become one of my favourites. (It's also a concept album, tied in with a comic book series and a few YouTube short films. I haven't really delved into this aspect much yet, it's not as strongly present in the music as is the case in, say, Rhapsody of Fire's work, which drew me into its fantasy world right from the beginning.)