Released: 2008, Roadrunner Records
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
Following the immense success of 2007’s THE HEART OF EVERYTHING, Holland’s Within Temptation has gifted its fans with a stunning DVD entitled BLACK SYMPHONY. Filmed at Rotterdam, Holland’s Ahoy Arena on February 7, 2008, the band is backed by The Metropole Orchestra and Pa’dam Choir with no expense spared in terms of visuals or sound. Fourteen cameras captured the show in high-definition widescreen and the audio portion has been mixed in DTS surround sound, so this really is an impressive package. As a bonus, footage of the show’s massive setup, interviews with the band, orchestra and crowd are featured, as well as a history of the band. An edited version of the show is packaged on CD, too, so there is plenty of material on BLACK SYMPHONY for fans of Within Temptation to sink their teeth into.
To say that BLACK SYMPHONY is an enormous, complex and expensive production is an understatement. The stage is gigantic, the pyro impressive, video screens are larger than life…the whole thing is just BIG! Granted, the show was recorded on Within Temptation’s home soil where they are a major household name but still, this is the kind of production usually reserved for stadium-sized acts. With The Metropole Orchestra and Pa’dam Choir backing them, Within Temptation is firing on all cylinders. Unless there was major post-production done, the instrumentation and vocals are flawless and seam perfectly with the added musicians. The CD is essentially a “best-of” selection from THE HEART OF EVERYTHING and 2004’s THE SILENT FORCE, the band’s two breakthrough albums (only one of the thirteen tracks—“Mother Earth”—comes from the band’s earlier albums), but those tracks are the absolute cream of the crop. “Stand My Ground,” “What Have You Done,” “Frozen,” “The Howling,” “Jillian (I’d Give My Heart)” and “The Cross” are melodic, bombastic and filled with loads of hooks. “Ouverture,” an original piece written specifically for this show by conductor Jules Buckley, is a breathtaking spectacle with big, sweeping choral sections that lend a film score-like feel. Seeing vocalist Sharon Den Adel enter followed by about twenty-feet of dress for “Jillian (I’d Give My Heart)” is just as theatrically impressive. The band seems right at home on the giant stage and moves about freely throughout. Den Adel, with several changes of outfits, manages to come off as less than a diva despite her garish outfits. Her stage banter is completely in Dutch but English subtitles are a welcome option. Life of Agony’s Keith Caputo (“What have You Done?”) and former The Gathering singer Anneke Van Giersbergen (“Somewhere”) join the band for duets with Caputo’s faring much better. THE HEART OF EVERYTHING’s “Forgiven” is a gorgeous ballad that utilizes the orchestra perfectly and “Our Solemn Hour,” with its Latin choral chants, is chilling.
The bonus features are really the icing on the cake here. The backstage report features before and after show reports from the band members, as well as the orchestra, choir and Keith Caputo. The anticipation and tension is thick in the pre-show interviews and the relief is just as evident in those conducted post-show. A short feature called “Countdown To Black Symphony” details the time from first soundcheck to the actual moment the band hits the stage. The real gem, though, is the half-hour documentary (again, all in Dutch with English subtitles) that gives a brief history of the band, members’ thoughts on BLACK SYMPHONY taken a short time afterwards, as well as a focus on Den Adel’s outfits and various photo shoots and appearances.
BLACK SYMPHONY is the third such DVD release from Within Temptation used as stop-gaps between studio albums but this is easily the most comprehensive and unique. Capturing the band at its finest moment and with no expenses spared in terms of production will appeal not only to Within Temptation’s long-time fans but also to those who came on board through the broad appeal of THE SILENT FORCE and THE HEART OF EVERYTHING. Despite the dozen year gap since ENTER first emerged, this is a band poised for great success in North America, so keep watch for Within Temptation.
***The Japanese and European editions of BLACK SYMPHONY differ vastly from the North American version insofar as including the full concert spread over two CDs, a second DVD of an earlier show, as well as music videos and other goodies.