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Within Temptation: Black Symphony

Within Temptation are one of the true sensations in the world of Gothic Metal or Symphonic Metal depending on how you choose to view them and while incredibly popular in the European territories, the US region was never able to easily enjoy them without purchasing super expensive imports. Roadrunner Records' signing of the band and subsequent release of The Heart Of Everything found their new music reaching hungry existing fans along with an army of new ones and by remastering and reissuing two of their classics would serve the drastic need for back catalog. This brings us up to the Black Symphony concert which is a fantastic CD/DVD release that captures the band performing for a sold out arena crowd with a 60 piece classical orchestra joining them as they deliver the best tunes from their latest and previous releases. The version which we had for review was the single CD and DVD edition so we decided to focus the nature of our commentary on the video portion and will touch upon the audio side after that. Let's continue.

I can safely say that I am a big fan of the live music scene and based on this attend a numerous amount of concerts. That makes my sitting down to enjoy them in the privacy of my own home something tricky because it's not always the same thing. As far as concert films go this one kept me glued to the couch like few others have ever done before because it was not only dramatic in its delivery but it was also very intense in how it presented the wonderful colors that the band paints with their material. Visually the production was stunning and awe inspiring based on just how massive it appeared to be on the screen. In the live sense this must have been a sensory overload to the audience that was lucky enough to be present for the show. The full orchestra is positioned behind the group who performs in front of them with the electric guitars, bass and drums while Sharon sings and often adds interesting dance moves and gestures to her vocal lines. It's great that she is not just standing still and instead is getting into it as much as everyone else in the band. She also doesn't seem to stop smiling for the entire show and I guess this is something that is totally possible when performing for such a loving home based crowd. For those who have enjoyed Within Temptations music in the past you already know how well it works with the symphonic elements but to see it done live in front of your eyes was just majestic. Clearly the Metropole Orchestra was the perfect choice for the musicians to raise the bar of many already excellent Within Temptation numbers. The orchestra while 60 musicians, is also comprised of a 20 voice choir that adds more depth to those tunes that required such things.

The songs selected for performance makes this come off like a live "best of" collection and they deliver something for everyone even though there is a heavy emphasis placed on The Heart of Everything CD. I actually liked that album and felt that it was the perfect introduction to the newer fans but also one that didn't totally exclude their older ones based on certain melodies and grooves that they offered on it. The group is as tight as a drum and if you thought it was going to end at Metal band meets Orchestra with all the pyrotechnics and glitz then you were wrong because the concert also gives us a bevy of guest stars to enjoy as well. The first guest comes by way of Keith Caputo (Life Of Agony) who sings along with Sharon on "What Have You Done Now", this song was the first single from "THOE" and quite the catchy number. A mellower duet is enjoyed with singer Anneke van Giersbergen (formerly of The Gathering) and its really fantastic to enjoy the two distinct voices they posses in a single tune. George Oosthoek from Delain rounds out the guests for the show. Several of the tunes are taken down a little bit to be performed with an ensemble and strings and we saw KISS doing this same thing with their own Symphony Alive IV CD and DVD. "Memories" is probably one of the most beautiful tunes that the band has and it works when done like this very much. The show gets heavy again as the band delivers new wonders like "Our Solemn Hour" and classics such as "Mother Earth" with the latter tune being one of the most powerful renditions I have ever enjoyed. There was heavy emphasis on costume and wardrobe change for Sharon and songs like "Angels" find other enhancements taking place during the performance. When it all closes out with "Ice Queen" you will be left awestruck and probably deciding to run this performance again from the beginning. It is that good and probably can be considered one of the best deliveries of a bands material in the live sense and as good as Nightwish's own The End Of An Era.

CD Track Listing: Ouverture, Jillian (I'd Give My Heart), The Howling, Stand My Ground, The Cross, What Have You Done, Hand Of Sorrow, Forgiven, Somewhere, Our Solemn Hour, Frozen, Angels, Mother Earth.

*** We had the US version of the CD which is why we chose to focus the subject of the review on the DVD portion and in this version we find thirteen of the tracks from the full concert as opposed to the twenty two that one finds on the European release which spans two CD's. Fans should not worry because if they purchase the release via or I-Tunes they can download the full MP3's of the show. For me, this was a great teaser for the concert film that I found absolutely stunning and it was also a nice way to load up the tracks of the live band on my music player. I was sad to find numbers like "Memories" and "Ice Queen" missing from the US version as I felt the audience over here would really take to those songs but at least they can still be enjoyed within the context of the film.

As we mentioned this album does come in a couple of different versions based on the geographical region you are in and with the Internet you can purchase any one of them if your mind is set on having a particular type. One has 2 DVD's while the other has 2 CD's and then there is the one we had examined in this article. Be prepared to pay a little more for the import ones but be sure to look into the release no matter what because it is truly an incredible representation of a find band in concert as a healthy dose of new and old material is presented. Great work from Within Temptation.

Track Listing: DVD
1. Ouverture
2. Jillian (I'd Give My Heart)
3. The Howling
4. Stand My Ground
5. The Cross
6. What Have You Done
7. Hand Of Sorrow
8. The Heart Of Everything
9. Forgiven
10. Somewhere
11. The Swan Song
12. Memories
13. Our Solemn Hour
14. The Other Half (Of Me)
15. Frozen
16. The Promise
17. Angels
18. Mother Earth
19. The Truth Beneath The Rose
20. Deciever Of Fools
21. All I Need
22. Ice Queen

Added: July 14th 2009
Reviewer: Ken Pierce
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 3696
Language: english

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