If you need a song to make you euphorically melancholy, then ‘Our Farewell’ ought to suitably fit the bill. Released in 2003 as a single by Within Temptation, a Dutch symphonic metal band founded in 1996. After the release of their debut album Enter in 1997, the band became prominent in the Dutch underground scene. However, they did not become known to the public until 2001, with their single ‘Ice Queen’ (another dramatic listen, except this one will make you get up and headbang!) reaching number 2 in the Dutch charts. In the following years, their next albums The Silent Force (2004) and The Heart of Everything (2007) debuted at number 1 in the Dutch charts.
However, ‘Our Farewell’ never entered the charts, which I think is absolutely crazy. The only reason I can possibly think of is that it was released a fraction too early for the public. I can honestly say, hand on heart, that it is one of the most ethereally haunting, moving songs that I have ever heard. And believe me, I have heard an awful lot. The first time I heard it, it moved me to tears, and that takes some serious doing.
As the first notes fall lightly from the piano, one is filled with a mystical sense of melancholy before a brief pause leaves you hanging in anticipation of what is coming next. Suddenly, a lone cello accompanied by softly dramatic piano chords fill your head continuing the melancholy tone before trailing off in a gentle ascendance before the fragile, yearning soprano vocals of Sharon den Adel come in, accompanied by the piano providing moving waves of music which will encompass any listeners heart. As the first verse moves into the chorus, the dramatic chords return, the bass notes creating a swelling contrast with the smooth soprano vocals. The singular cello re-joins the piano/vocal duo as the song moves into the second verse providing a new dimension of mournfulness. When we hit the second chorus there is an explosion of sound as the electric guitar chords blast powerfully into the song once again, lifting the song to new heights as the chorus gives way to an instrumental featuring the electric guitar as lead, shadowed by drums and piano. If the song had a music video, it is the kind of instrumental where the guitarist would be standing on a rocky outcrop in the middle of nowhere with a fantastic view on an overcast day, outside a church perhaps, with the wind whipping their hair across their face. Then the final verse comes in, the vocal line now with harmonising counterparts which greatly enhances the piousness of the song.
At the end, all the instrumental layers are stripped back again to leave a singular, tender vocal line with some well-placed deep piano chords.
‘Our Farewell’ lyrically evokes a deep sense of loss, and perhaps a cover interpretation in the future could turn the song into a striking parent/child duet, following the death of the parent – a song across dimensions. When you consider the juxtaposition of classical and metal instruments, and also the contrast between the almost holy sounding vocals and the electric guitar, this would appear to be a very fitting view to take. ‘Our Farewell’ may not have the recognition that it deserves, but it will always hold a place in my heart, and, I hope in yours too.