Armin Van Buuren brings us his much awaited 5th studio album titled “Intense” in late 2013, almost 3 years after his previous masterpiece Mirage. Intense as an album delivers solid productions with fewer genre restrictions and a lot of new sounds with classical, house, electro and rock elements. This can be noticed from the very first second of the album, all the way till the end.
The first track is titled “Intense” an intro, preparing listeners as to what shall follow. A classical track featuring almost haunting violins by Israeli-American violinist Miri Ben-Ari. It’s a pure anthem with off-beat drums and electro elements almost reminding one of daft punk. Goosebumps guaranteed!
This almost heavenly track is followed by one of the albums most popular singles “This Is What It Feels Like” with Trevor Guthrie on the vocals. An absolute vocal track with a non-standard chord structure and intense amounts of electro / house elements. An excellent single with catchy vocals and house-y vibes makes it a perfect summer track.
Next up is a progressive electro vocal track featuring Cindy Alma called “Beautiful Life”. Lots of trancy vocal play with delays in the mid-section and a trance riff with sublime breaks (backspin-ish pauses) make it an absolute delight. The track with Fiora named “Waiting For The Night” almost continues the vibe, although being more club oriented featuring gated synths and classic AVB sounds. That’s always a plus, right?
“Pulsar” is the 5th track on the album, also being one of the most Armin Van Buuren sounding. It’s almost an extension from Mirage giving us the classic Van Buuren trance sounds with a super electro bassline and a club feel. This is one of the most nostalgic tracks on the album, instantly taking you back to pre-mirage days. Unlike its title, “Sound of The Drums” is not just a drum n bass track. A cocktail of Laura Jansen’s angel-like voice with loads of acoustic and trance elements filled to the brim with euphoria. “Alone” is another vocal track on the album, perhaps the most vocal of them all. An almost house track which feels like a sequel to “This Is What It Feels Like” thanks to a similar chord progression. Strong pop like vocals and lack of trance sounds may not appeal to older fans.
Track 8 is a collaboration with the Nervo Sisters & Laura V called “Turn This Love Around”. A trance sound in the intro progresses to easy listening with almost Guetta-ish sounding vocals then turning into a big-room festival track. Commercially an excellent track, however would not please all AVB fans. Following this, is (yet) another vocal track titled “Won’t Let You Go” with Aruna. Phenomenally gated vocals along with tight kicks and a trance sound throughout complemented by a superb electro riff make it an absolute favourite. This one is a club banger!
At this stage, we reach the business (Trance) side of the album. Track 10 onward is a pure treat for all older Armin Van Buuren fans. “In 10 Years From Now” is a short 1 minute filler / intro to this side of the album. Continuously mixed into “Last Stop Before Heaven” provoking Armin’s uplifting side. The track features a fairly dark atmosphere with a very complex yet simple sound. It features a prominent bassline and a very classic trance structure.
“Forever Is Ours” and “Love Never Came” are the final vocal tracks on this album, the former with vocals by “Emma Hewiit” and the latter with “Richard Bradford”. These two tracks exhibit classic Armin Van Buuren. Both tracks are a vocal delight with terrific basslines and typical Armin styled melodies. These tracks possess his signature sounds.
The album ends with “Who’s Afraid Of 138” a 138bpm uplifting emotional trance track with a Mirage-esque guitars riff. It’s a highlight moment, as this melody is repeated in the outro track “Reprise”, a classical symphony outro, with some very hard rock elements, and of course – violins!
The perfect end on a truly “intense” album.
The album is co-produced with Benno De Goeijj. The main genres can be identified as – Trance/House/Electro/Classical. The first half of the album is typically vocal with heavy electro/house influences. The latter half can be considered the more Armin Van Buuren signature trance side. 9 tracks out of 15 are vocal! Who doesn’t like vocals?
Summing it up, Armin Van Buuren gives fans old and new what they want. The more House/Electro styled tracks are focused towards the newer fans, whereas a large chunk of the album is still dedicated to his older Trance fans with his signature sounds. The albums has no dull moments whatsoever, and sounds brilliant! The album absolutely lives up to the hype and Armin’s high standards. Goosebumps guaranteed!