This review was originally written by Jose Bernardo for www.theweeklyriff.com between 2008 and 2010.
These were Jose’s first impressions:
Artist : Within Temptation & The Metropole Orchestra
DVD : Black Symphony (2008 Sony/BMG, RoadRunner, Gun Records
Discs : 2 (review covers the content on disc 1 only)
Artist website : http://www.within-temptation.com/
Overture/Jillian (I’d Give My Heart)/The Howling/Stand My Ground/The Cross/What Have You Done (featuring Keith Caputo)/Hand Of Sorrow/The Heart of Everything/Forgiven/Somewhere (featuring Anneke Van Giersbergen)/The Swan Song/Memories/Our Solemn Hour/The Other Half (Of Me) (featuring George Oosthoek)/Frozen/The Promise/Angels/Mother Earth/The Truth Beneath The Rose/Deceiver Of Fools/All I Need/Ice Queen
Backstage Report/ Documentary/Countdown Black Symphony
BLACK SYMPHONY REVIEW :
This review covers the content that is on the first disc only.
I was in a DVD shop and saw Black Symphony in the sale bin and picked it up. Curious, I bought it. I had never heard of the band, but was a fan by the end of the first song and have since picked up all of their CDs.
I stopped watching the concert after that first song and decided to watch the extra footage first. The documentary, though short, was very informative and gave a quick history of the band. The backstage footage of the show was also very cool.
I then started watching the concert again. Now having a better understanding of what the show meant to the band and how it was put together. The orchestra is phenomenal behind this band! Not to mention the choir in the background that adds such an amazing touch to the vocals. It adds such an amazing dimension to this material. The arrangers did an amazing job. The music sounds so full!
OVERTURE, JILLIAN, and THE HOWLING
The Overture is great! It really builds up the excitement and totally enhances the experience of the event. During the Overture, the footage shows the orchestra on stage as well as the band backstage getting ready. What an electric beginning that must have been for the audience! How that leads then to Jillian is also great.
Jillian was the first thing I watched and was instantly hooked. What a great track to start the show with! This track is so catchy and so well penned. It’s also great to see the band finally come out and do what they are known for. However, the cameras seldom pan to capture the audience during this song. I especially love that high note at the end of the song.
Some of the camera work at the start of The Howling is a little taxing to the eyes. I would have liked them to cut in some of the footage playing on the back canvas in with the performance footage. Catching glimpses of that huge back screen is nice, and it should have been interwoven with the performance footage on the DVD to enhance the viewing experience since it was there to enhance the live experience of the concertgoers. The song itself is great! Very dramatic.
STAND MY GROUND, THE CROSS, WHAT HAVE YOU DONE
Stand My Ground and The Cross are such cool songs. They are both perfect blends of mellow and heavy. That chorus is so catchy on Stand My Ground. The orchestra really shines on this one. The Cross is really more of a ballad. Visually, both songs really concentrate on singer, Sharon den Adel. While she is the voice of the band, I wish there would be more of a balance with showing the rest of the musicians on stage. It’s also worth noting that the visuals from the back screen are cut in for split seconds during The Cross and don’t really enhance the viewing experience as they are such quick glimpses.
The band is then joined by Keith Caputo to do What Have You Done. Caputo is the first of three guest musicians on the DVD. The camera work is great as it captures the energy and chemistry between both singers. The orchestra takes a little bit of a backseat on this song as they are not so prominent for the first time during the show. However, having them come in full force for every chorus is wonderful. They really add a powerful element to the song.
HAND OF SORROW, THE HEART OF EVERYTHING, FORGIVEN
Hand Of Sorrow, The Heart Of Everything, and Forgiven, are next. Visually the director captures a larger variety of people. I especially like the black and white effect during Forgiven. I am in absolute awe of what an orchestra brings to this music. It’s not like they weren’t already doing music without an orchestral element. But having such a good orchestra on these songs is great. This is without a doubt one of the best fusions of a rock band with an orchestra. It has been done so well. I am almost willing to say that this recording should define the meaning of a perfect marriage between rock band and orchestra in a live setting.
SOMEWHERE, THE SWAN SONG, MEMORIES
Anneke van Geirbergen the joins the band for Somewhere. This rendition of this very mellow ballad is breathtaking! The band are in unplugged mode and having these two powerful female voices singing this duet with the orchestra’s backing is just absolutely sublime! Visually, it is very pleasing.
Then the band continue in unplugged form and do The Swan Song and Memories. Very cool renditions.
OUR SOLEMN HOUR, THE OTHER HALF
The stage goes black and the screen is filled with the animation of the band’s logo. The intro samples are then played to Our Solemn Hour and the crowd goes wild.
Then the band are joined by George Oosthoek for a blistering performance of The Other Half. What a voice that man has! It’s amazing that one man can electrify the air that much. Once again the camera work/editing makes for a visually taxing start to the song. The camera crew did manage to capture some interesting moments in this song. However, the editing work really is a bit too busy on this song with very quick camera changes happening in rapid succession.
FROZEN AND THE PROMISE
The band then tone it down a little with Frozen and The Promise. But there is nothing mellow about this performance. It is packed with energy and power. Such emotion! The songs segue perfectly. The orchestra and choir are absolutely phenomenal over the course of these songs.
ANGELS AND MOTHER EARTH
Angels and Mother Earth follow. Very nice renditions of both songs. However, the dancers on stilts were kind of strange during Angels. (Though I guess they were supposed to be angels.) The power of the orchestra really takes Mother Earth to a whole new level. This rendition is absolutely amazing.
THE TRUTH BENEATH THE ROSE, DECEIVER OF FOOLS, and JULES BUCKLEY
As the show starts to draw to a close, the remaining songs are not lacking at all in intensity. In fact, the songs toward the end are driven by the adrenalin that has built up over the course of the show.
The Truth Beneath The Rose and Deceiver Of Fools are spectacular. The intensity with which they are performed should leave no doubts about just how good these musicians are. All of them, not just the band. The singers in the choir and the orchestra members are superb.
It is worth mentioning that conductor, Jules Buckley, has an amazing control over the orchestra and choir. This material is not simple and he’s done a fabulous job of bringing these two very different worlds together perfectly. I would love to see what this man could do with the material of bands such as Symphony X or Dream Theater.
ALL I NEED, ICE QUEEN and FINAL THOUGHTS
The penultimate song is an absolutely magical rendition of All I Need. It is absolutely beautiful. There’s so much emotion in this song.
It is only fitting that they end the show with their break through hit that started their career, Ice Queen. The energy on stage and in the audience is apparent. The director really manage to capture this part of the show well.
After the band and orchestra leave the stage, the cameras keep rolling. It is great to see the satisfied faces of the concertgoers. In a way, I’m jealous that I could not be there to witness it in person as the show must have been a totally electrifying experience.
My only gripe is that the band addresses the crowd in their native dutch almost completely as opposed to English. However, this is totally understandable as the show was recorded in their home country.
Black Symphony is definitely worth getting for disc 1 alone. Whether you are a fan of rock, gothic metal, symphonic metal, or not, one should at least give this a chance. The music is amazing regardless of genre. It is powerful, emotional, dramatic, and everything that good music is.
Black Symphony belongs in the collection of every well rounded symphonic metal fan.