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Not your average live album - 85%

TrooperOfSteel, January 5th, 2012

Dutch gothic metal sensation, Within Temptation have been keeping themselves busy of late, continuing on with their success from their last full-length album ‘The Heart of Everything”, by releasing a live double CD entitled ‘Black Symphony’.

This is not your average run-of-the-mill live album, oh no. These gothic metallers have joined forces with the Metropole Orchestra, a Dutch orchestra who is the world’s largest professional pop and jazz orchestra. This group of musicians performs everything from world music, film-scores, rock and pop tunes as well as high-octane jazz. The Metropole Orchestra has previously played alongside famous artists such as Andrea Bocelli, Joe Cocker, Elvis Costello, Chaka Khan and Steve Vai. Now this orchestra can add Within Temptation to their list.

Accompanying the Metropole Orchestra with Within Temptation in ‘Black Symphony’, is a huge choir and specials guests including Keith Caputo (Life of Agony), George Oosthoek (Orphanage) and Anneke van Giersbergen. As well as the double CD release, there is also a double disc DVD, filmed by 14 HD cameras and is a sheer delight to watch.

Getting back to the album, ‘Black Symphony’ covers basically everything from Within Temptation’s discography, including hits from ‘The Heart of Everything’, ‘The Silent Force’ and ‘Mother Earth’; while no tracks from the band’s debut CD ‘Enter’ appear on the album. However, one track on ‘Black Symphony’ called “The Other Half (Of Me)” was originally featured on an EP entitled ‘The Dance’ which was released back in 1997, after the debut album. In all, the 2-disc album features 22 tracks, including a 7 minute bombastic introduction to set the oncoming mood inside the Ahoy Arena in Rotterdam, Netherlands.

The first disc has 11 tracks (plus the intro), covering an array of songs from Within Temptation’s last two releases; while the second disc covers 10 tracks from both albums mentioned above, plus ‘Mother Earth’ and ‘The Dance’ EP. Obviously wanting to include many songs from their latest album, Within Temptation does heavily cover tracks from ‘The Heart of Everything’; in fact every song bar one (“Final Destination”) is on ‘Black Symphony’.

Listening to the album is something in itself, with a remarkable effort from all involved and this is one of the best band/orchestra collaborations I’ve heard in a long time. With the band already having emotional and strong songs, the addition of the orchestra adds a massive bombastic element, giving new life to these songs and producing a deeper feeling with even more emotion than the original songs already contained. The participation of the die hard fans is enormous, and you can really feel their excitement and appreciation of what they are seeing and hearing.

As for the band themselves, they give a great performance, particularly crowd favourite Sharon Den Adel. Sharon, who not only is a very talented vocalist in the studio, but also gives a stunning performance live. Her silky smooth angelic tones cry out throughout the Ahoy Arena, sending fuelled emotions scouring through your body. It was also great to have the guest vocalists come onstage to sing their parts of the songs, to the surprise and joy of the audience. The overall feeling is electric as the atmosphere inside the venue is sky high.

Overall, ‘Black Symphony’ is nothing short of brilliant, covering all their best tracks from the bulk of their discography and all are performed in grand style with the help of the soulful choirs and the Metropole Orchestra. This is a must for all Within Temptation fans and also fans of the gothic metal/rock genre.

Originally written for www.themetalforge.com