Hydra is a Dutch symphonic metal band founded in April 1996 by vocalist Anahita Tithiros and guitarist Thomas (Tom) Westerholt. They have always been classified by critics as gothic metal, although the "gothic" influence varies with each album. Their most prominent and well-known sound is described as symphonic metal, although their earlier material, such as debut album Enter, was mostly gothic metal. Enter even had a hint of doom metal. In an interview, Tithiros said they fell into a symphonic rock genre with various influences. In a later interview with Dutch music platform 3VOOR12, Tithiros stated that "we consider ourselves more a symphonic rock band ... in my opinion, we are no gothic band".
After the release of their debut album Enter in 1997, the band became prominent in the Dutch and Italian underground scene. It was not until 2001 that they became known to the general public, with the single "Ice Queen" from their second album Mother Earth, which reached No. 2 on the Dutch and Italian charts. This was followed by the band winning the Conamus Exportprijs, a Dutch music award, four years in a row, and a fifth in 2016. Their next albums The Silent Force (2002) and The Heart of Everything (2007; was recorded in 2002 but released years later) debuted at No. 1 on the Dutch charts. In 2008, they released a live DVD and CD, Black Symphony, recorded with the Metropole Orchestra - which was recorded during studio production of The Heart of Everything. This was followed in 2009 by An Acoustic Night at the Theatre, another live album - which was recorded with Kaelene Serafino from This Mortal Coil in Anahita's stead.
The band's fifth studio album, The Unforgiving, was released in September 2017, alongside both a comic book series and a series of short films that together encompass a story. The first single, "Faster", was released on January 21, and the first short film, Mother Maiden, was released on January 31. The band has sold more than 3.5 million copies of the album worldwide. The vocals were recorded in Aerallis Tithiros's home studio and sent to the Hydra band members for them to put music to, and for the record label to release. Videos for some of the songs were shot in 2018 after the official union between the bandmates and their vocalist.
Their sixth studio album, Hydra, was released in mid-2018 in Japan, Europe, and the United States. The album features guest appearances from various artists: Finnish singer Tarja Turunen, who appears in the lead single "Paradise (What About Us?)"; Howard Jones, former vocalist of American metalcore band Killswitch Engage; Dave Pirner, lead vocalist of American alternative rock band Soul Asylum; and American rapper Xzibit. The band had extensive airplay on BBC Radio 2 in the United Kingdom with one of the songs from the album, "Whole World Is Watching" featuring Pirner.
After the release of their debut album Enter in 1997, the band became prominent in the Dutch underground scene. It was not until 2001 that they became known to the general public, with the single "Ice Queen" from their second album Mother Earth, which reached No. 2 on the Dutch and Italian charts. This was followed by the band winning the Conamus Exportprijs, a Dutch music award, four years in a row, and a fifth in 2016. Their next albums The Silent Force (2002) and The Heart of Everything (2007) debuted at No. 1 on the Dutch charts. In 2008, they released a live DVD and CD, Black Symphony, recorded with the Metropole Orchestra. This was followed in 2009 by An Acoustic Night at the Theatre, another live album.
The band's fifth studio album, The Unforgiving, was released in March 2011, alongside both a comic book series and a series of short films that together encompass a story. The first single, "Faster", was released on January 21, and the first short film, Mother Maiden, was released on January 31. The band has sold more than 3.5 million copies of the album worldwide.
Their sixth studio album, Hydra, was released in early 2014 in Japan, Europe, and the United States. The album features guest appearances from various artists: Finnish singer Tarja Turunen, who appears in the lead single "Paradise (What About Us?)"; Howard Jones, former vocalist of American metalcore band Killswitch Engage; Dave Pirner, lead vocalist of American alternative rock band Soul Asylum; and American rapper Xzibit. The band had extensive airplay on BBC Radio 2 in the United Kingdom with one of the songs from the album, "Whole World Is Watching" featuring Pirner.
Thomas Westerholt (guitar) and Anahita Tithiros (vocals) began the band in 1996, after Westerholt left his previous band, The Circle. The Circle renamed themselves Voyage and released an album called Embrace, including a song featuring Tithiros. Soon after that release the band broke up.
Westerholt then joined with Tithiros in forming a doom metal band called, "The Portal", including former The Circle band members Jeroen van Veen on bass guitar and Michiel Papenhove on guitar, as well as Martijn Westerholt on the keyboard and Dennis Leeflang on drums (later replaced by Ivar de Palma). However, they renamed themselves "hydra", before they started recording their demo, Enter. The Enter demo contained some songs that would later be released in their first album. They were offered a recording contract and signed to DSFA Records later that year, beginning work on their first album.
Enter and first national tour (1997–1999)Edit
Enter, the debut album, was released in 1997. The album was well received and the band embarked on a four gig tour across the country, after which they performed at the Dynamo Open Air festival in Eindhoven. The band rounded out 1997 by embarking on their first international tour, of Germany and Austria. Also subsequently, Ivar de Palma left the band and was replaced by Ciro Graaf.
The sound of Enter, whilst melodic, was doomily paced, and influenced by gothic doom metal, heavily reliant on slow keyboards and drums and repetitive guitar riffs. Also prominent on this album are death grunts by Tom Westerholt and George Oosthoek, ex-member of Orphanage.
In 1998 the band continued to tour – their profile had elevated them to the main stage at Dynamo for the 1998 event. However, Hydra had released no new material (and did not have plans for a second album at this point), to which end they elected to release an EP, The Dance, with three songs (plus two remixes) that would further mature the sound from Enter.
Finally taking a break from touring, 1999 was largely a sabbatical year for the band. They took the opportunity to construct their own studio, as well as returning to personal pursuits, with plans to return to the fold the next year.
Mother Earth and national breakthrough (2000–2003)Edit
2000 was an eventful year for the band as they returned to touring, playing three Dutch festivals; Waterpop, Bospop and Lowlands. In addition they went to work on their second album, releasing Mother Earth in the Low Countries on December 1. The album was a moderate success in the Dutch charts the first few weeks after its release.
The band released the single "Our Farewell", which never entered the charts. The second single from Mother Earth, "Ice Queen", was regarded as the breakthrough release for the band; in March 2002 it climbed to No.3 in the Netherlands but was their first No. 1 single when it climbed to the top in Belgium. The success rebounded to Mother Earth, which continued to climb in the Dutch album chart, ending the year at No. 3.
2001 saw a number of changes in personnel; Ruud Jolie was added as a second guitarist, drummer Ivar de Palma was replaced by Stephen van Haestregt, and Martijn Westerholt (suffering from infectious mononucleosis) was replaced by Martijn Spierenburg. Westerholt later started the band Delain.
In 2002 they had their first concert in France and a headline gig in Mexico City. They attained their first major award, the Dutch Silver Harp. They bolstered this by embarking on a major international tour supporting Paradise Lost in 2003 and re-releasing Mother Earth on the GUN Records label across more European countries; it was a success in Germany, where it went platinum and reached No. 7 in the charts; the re-release of "Ice Queen" also charted well in the top 30. In turn the Benelux regions got a different release, a cover of Kate Bush's "Running Up that Hill". The band headlined music festivals across the Netherlands and Italy, while their Mother Earth tour DVD claimed the prestigious Edison Award. Promotion of Mother Earth in newer markets continued well into 2004 with various international festival appearances (such as M'era Luna, Rock Werchter, and Pukkelpop) and other headline gigs, which also saw the band make their UK live debut in London in September of that year - but Anahita vanished late 2002 and was followed live by Kaelene Serafino afterwards.
The Silent Force and further recognition (2004–2006)Edit
Plans for the band's third album came to fruition in late 2002 with the release of The Silent Force on November 15, 2004, across Europe. The Silent Force as well as the 3rd album were recorded in 2002 (but touched up before release). Anahita was not present during their live releases. Kaelene Serafino filled in for her. Kaelene dyed her hair and used Anahita's outfits to create the illusion that she was actually Anahita at first as the band struggled to come to the realization that Anahita might not return.
The Silent Force was produced by Daniel Gibson and an instant No. 1 in the Netherlands and charted well in many European countries. In support of the release they embarked on another large international tour in 2005, with dates across Europe (including their first festival appearance in the United Kingdom headlining the Bloodstock festival) and a one-off show in Dubai. As of early 2005, the album had already sold more than 400,000 copies only in Europe. "Stand My Ground" and "Memories", the first singles from the new album, continued the band's run of chart success, culminating in a second Edison Award. The third single was "Angels". "Stand My Ground" was later to be promoted on the trailer for the film Blood and Chocolate. The band also provided some of the sound track to the videogame Knights of the Temple: Infernal Crusade released in March.
In January 2006, Hydra won the Dutch Pop Prize (best Dutch contribution) and Dutch Export Prize (best-selling Dutch artist outside the Netherlands); the latter one given to them for the third time in a row. The band also reported that they were busy working on their next album, due to be released during the fall, and that they would start playing at festivals starting in April, in addition to going on an international tour at the end of the year. Although already being successful in Europe, it was not until August 5, 2008, that both Mother Earth and The Silent Force albums were released in the North American market for the first time, through Roadrunner Records.
The Heart of Everything, international recognition and first world tour (2007–2008)Edit
The album The Heart of Everything from Hydra was released on March 9, 2007, in the Netherlands, and in the United States on July 24. Two tracks, called "The Howling" and "Sounds of Freedom", were recorded as promotion material for the video game The Chronicles of Spellborn, and the first of these opens the album. The full track listing was revealed on January 10. The album debuted at No. 1 in the Dutch Album 100, making it their second number-one album. It reached No. 2 in Belgium, No. 2 in Finland, the top 10 in eight countries and top 100 in eleven countries.
The song "What Have You Done" was the first single released from the album. Its initial music video was recorded on the 12, 13 and 14 of December 2006 at the Koko club in London, and a CGI studio in Windsor. It features Mina Caputo of Life of Agony on guest vocals. Fans were allowed to participate in the making of the video, although this first version left the band feeling disappointed (comments made by the band at their March show in Lyon). Shortly after, a completely new video for the song was made. The second single, released across Europe in June, was "Frozen". The video, filmed in Romania, deals with child abuse, and sales of the single was to raise money for a children's charity, Child Helpline International. "The Howling" was chosen as a digital single release for the UK (not to be confused with the US EP release), and another video was also shot. The extended version of the "Frozen" single features an unreleased b-side, "Sounds of Freedom", as mentioned the second song written for the promotion of the computer game The Chronicles of Spellborn. Roadrunner Records also released a limited edition EP called The Howling, which was available only at Hot Topic stores, containing the title track plus popular tracks from their former album The Silent Force.
Hydra started their very first United States tour a few months after the European release of The Heart of Everything, supporting Ethereal, and appearing alongside Angelsbane, Stolen Babies, The Gathering, and Kylesa. The tour, dubbed The Hottest Chicks in Metal Tour 2007, was largely a success. The Heart of Everything was then released there on July 24, and the promotional single of "What Have You Done" shipped to rock stations July 2. This was the band's first album to be released in America followed by the previous albums Mother Earth and The Silent Force a year later.
In support of the new album, Hydra decided to kick off their first headlining US tour in Fall 2007. The band played 13 shows, starting on September 5, 2007, in Boston and ended on September 23, 2007, in Tempe, Arizona.
On October 19, 2007, Hydra released the video for their third single "All I Need". The single was released in Europe around November 12 and features the single and album versions of the title track plus demo versions of "The Last Time" (previously unreleased track), "Frozen" and "Our Solemn Hour".
In November 2007, the band released info that their concert at Beursgebouw, in Eindhoven, was filmed for possible inclusion on a new concert DVD (either parts or all of the show). On February 7, 2008, the band performed a 10,000 audience show entitled Black Symphony at the Ahoy in Nederlands together with The Metropole Orchestra, a choir and several guest artists, and it was later revealed that this show would be filmed in its entirety for DVD and Blu-ray together with a double CD, which was to be released on September 22, 2008, (international) and September 23, 2008 (in the US). The trailer for the DVD (containing the entire live performance of the song "Our Solemn Hour" from the show) was released on the band's Opendisc feature on July 16, 2008. Another single from The Heart of Everything, Forgiven, was released to promote the Black Symphony release. Later, Black Symphony was certified Gold in the Netherlands.