I was surprised by how much I liked Within Temptation's most recent album, Resist. I know the band as a symphonic gothic metal outfit, but there wasn't much of that on offer in 2019 with songs owing a lot more to modern western pop music, merely with a heavier, more bombastic industrial beat behind it. I would say that this EP continues that musical shift but the songs aren't as interesting as highlights on that album like Endless War or Holy Ground. There's less dynamic play on offer, Sharon den Adel is less adventurous and the songs just feel more sedate. The best thing about it is the cover art.
Shed My Skin is the best of the three songs here, the other two being the band's previous two singles, The Purge and Entertain You. Shed My Skin is lively and driven by its vocals and a Paradise Lost-esque shift in its chorus. As the cover suggests, this song is a collaboration with the German metalcore band Annisokay, but it's not that metalcore in its sound. The industrial beat from Resist is still here but the drums are cleaner, almost serving as the lead instrument. The others are a little buried, except for a resonant metalcore section early in the second half that's actually pretty cool.
I'm far less fond of the other two songs, though Entertain You has its moments. It has a more stripped down and bass heavy sound when it starts, but it drops into a pop song in the diva style. Googling the song to find out that the male voice belongs to Daniel Gibson, I stumbled on an astute comment about den Adel needing to pull a Gwen Stefani and go full on pop diva. I can see that option and this is a song that sits firmly in between that and the symphonic metal that the band used to play.
What I like about Entertain You is even more applicable to Shed My Skin and what I don't like about it is even more applicable to The Purge. With the exception of the admirably clean drums and the poppy vocals, which feature that Irish lilt I noted on Resist a couple of years ago, it feels like everything else is blended into just a tone. It doesn't matter what any of the other instruments are doing and they're doing nothing more than a set of sustained notes on the keyboards would provide.
These three songs are pretty short, running only about a dozen minutes, so the band padded out the running time to EP length by adding instrumental versions of the songs. That's an odd move because, without the vocals, there's not a lot here. I find myself listening to a lot of instrumental albums lately with a set of drawn out twelve minute jams, but the twelve minutes here feel drawn out to double that because there's very little to hold our interest.
I'd give Shed My Skin a 6/10 on its own because it's enjoyable enough, even if it isn't up to the standard of Resist. However, the other tracks aren't up to the standard and the instrumentals drag it all down, so I'll have to drop to a 5/10 for the EP as a whole. That's quite the drop from a highly recommended 8 for Resist only two years ago. Hopefully the next album will be more interesting.