After the success of their first concept album, “The Unforgiving” (2011), Within Temptation was ready to experiment. With their sixth studio album, Within Temptation created a dragon. The dragon was unleashed to the world on 31 January 2014 for Europe and on 04 February 2014 for the rest of the world. The dragon was named “Hydra” and was the new full length studio album of the Dutch rock band.
It did not take a long time for Within Temptation to create their sixth studio album. The writing process began early 2012. It was only halfway 2012 when the band announced six songs were ready to be recorded. It was in the same month, May 2012, when the recording process for “Hydra” were started with the bass lines by Jeroen van Veen.
For this album, they signed a new album deal with BMG, and Universal Music for the Netherlands. Later, they also signed a deal with Nuclear Blast for the USA and Dramatico for the United Kingdom. The original plan, was to get “Hydra” released by September 2013, unfortunately the band did not reach this deadline.
“Hydra” is the first studio album by Within Temptation with this many collaborations. On the album, which contains only 10 tracks on the standard version, are four collaboration tracks. Songs featuring Howard Jones, the rapper Xzibit, ex-Nightwish singer Tarja Turunen, Dave Pirner and Piotr Rogucki (only on Polish territories). Due to the high number of collaboration tracks, fans saw the new side of Within Temptation. The commercial performance and reception were positive.
On 13 September 2013, even before they finished recording their sixth studio album, Within Temptation announced their lead single would be in collaboration with ex-Nightwish singer Tarja Turunen. This collaboration was highly requested for years by fans from both parties, for this record they made dreams come true. The single, “Paradise (What About Us?)“, was released as EP on 27 September 2013. The EP contained the first studio track of their forthcoming studio album, in collaboration with Tarja Turunen, plus three demo tracks. Sharon den Adel explained why they released these tracks as demo:
By releasing these demos we want to invite you in our home studio and show how we capture song ideas at an early stage of creating a new album. These demo versions are far from their final sound on the album, but will give you a hint of what we’re working on. It will be fascinating to hear how the end result will sound like, once the album is released.
On the same day, Within Temptation released the music video for the track, in which Tarja Turnen made her appearance.
On 08 November 2013, Within Temptation officially announced the title of their album together with the track list and album artwork. “Hydra” was now set for release 22 January 2014. The album artwork was designed by Dutch illustrator Romano Molenaar, who also created the artwork for their 2011-release “The Unforgiving“. Robert Westerholt explained in a 2013 interview the story behind the choice of album name:
We wanted it to be a real Within Temptation record, but heavier, more musically challenging, pushing borders and frontiers with new elements and influences, and at the same time bring back more from our early metal roots… a bit like the past and future at the same time. This album represents the different genres the band improves on each new record. Therefore Hydra is a perfect title for our new album, because like the monster itself, the record represents the many different sides of our music.
To promote their new album “Hydra”, Within Temptation released six singles. The first four were all collaboration songs on their album, the fifth single, “Edge of the World”, never reached the charts and was not promoted decently. The sixth single, “Covered By Rosex” was used to promote their live release “Let Us Burn: Elements & Hydra Live in Concert“, which was released later that year.
Single 1: “Paradise (What About Us?)” – feat. Tarja Turunen
The first single was at first announced on 12 July 2013 by Within Temptation. The teaser video contained the song title and a snippet of the song. Only on 13 September 2013, the band announced Tarja Turunen was going to be the collaboration artist on this track.
The official music video for “Paradise (What About Us?)” was released on 26 September 2013. The video shows footage of the band, including Tarja Turunen, and a post-apocalyptic landscape which is suffering from a nuclear war. The band later released a short video showing the layers of special effects added onto the video.
Single 2: “Dangerous” – feat. Howard Jones
To promote “Hydra”, Within Temptation released “Dangerous”, which is in collaboration with ex-Killswitch Engage singer Howard Jones, on 20 December 2013.
The song is a fast track and the heaviest single released from their studio album “Hydra”, as Sharon den Adel explains, it has the most bass drums they ever used, in combination with a very fast riff which was doubled with synths.
Single 3: “Whole World is Watching” – feat. Dave Pirner/Piotr Rogucki
Single three from “Hydra” was the power ballad “Whole World is Watching”. It is the last track on the standard edition of the studio album, and the slowest one. For international release, the band collaborated with Soul Asylum singer Dave Pirner. For the Polish release, the band collaborated with Piotr Rogucki.
The song is about setbacks, Sharon den Adel explained. Whether it is a physical problem, disease or struggling with anything in life, that you know it is watching and mentally supporting you. According to Sharon den Adel, it is a very positive feeling and song.
Single 4: “And We Run” – feat. Xzibit
This track got, next to “Parasite (What About Us?)”, the most attention by fans and media. The track was in collaboration with rapper Xzibit. The idea of adding rap verses to the track came to life by Robert Westerholt. As a fan of this genre, he tried multiple times to create something out of the box. With “Hydra” he succeeded and they collaborated with Xzibit for the track.
The track contains rap verses by Xzibit, which were written by Xzibit himself. The track was released as EP on 23 May 2014. The first three tracks were “And We Run” in different versions, plus a demo track from an unfinished song, “Living on Fire”, which unfortunately did not make it to the album.
Single 5: “Edge of the World”
The fifth single from “Hydra” is the only single which barely received any promotion. A quick single edit from the single was released for radio stations, unfortunately almost no radio station added the song to their playlist. The video received no music video, only a digital single cover, which is one of the promotional photographs with a color reducer and text on it.
Single 6: “Covered By Roses”
The sixth and final single to promote their 2014-release “Hydra” was “Covered By Roses”. This track was used to promote their 2014-live release “Let Us Burn” which contains live footage from their anniversary show “Elements” and their “Hydra” show recorded in Amsterdam.
The album was recorded between April and August 2014. The album was produced by Daniel Gibson and released via several labels. BMG/Universal for mainland Europe, Dramatico for UK territories and Nuclear Blast for the USA. The album was the first album where Stefan Helleblad made his debut as studio guitarist.