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I shall not describe the band in too great a detail as I would presume most people contemplating buying this DVD would have heard of them and listened to their music before.
In brief Within Temptation are a dutch band (who sing in English) fronted by Sharon Den Adel. I would describe them as a metal band, but with influences from many areas and they often incorporate orchestras (they have in this DVD), monks chanting, celtic themes etc.
Black Symphony is the 3rd music DVD made by Within Temptation and is predated by Mother Earth live and The silent force tour.
This DVD comprises of 2 DVD's and 2 CD's of live music.
The case is made of thick (good quality) board which folds out to reveal all 4 discs and a booklet containing a large number of high quality photos from the concert which are lovely to look through.
The first DVD:
When you press play on the DVD it starts off with Sharon sitting on a chair (same image as cover) and leads in to a view through a church with a priest walking down the centre aisle while music plays in the background. This then turns into the menu with 4 options to choose from:
Concert - The Ahoy, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Tracks (useful if you don't want to watch the whole concert)
Settings - screen ratios and subtitles
Extras - backstage report, documentary (in dutch so use the subtitles for this), countdown black symphony (filming of events on the day of the concert shown on the DVD)
Starts off in black and white, gradually turning into colour within a couple of minutes.
The concert itself starts with some quite powerful and emotive chanting and orchestra music (the orchestra and chanters are all placed in prominent view on the stage) and combined with some shots of the band backstage. Personally I feel this really helps to build up the atmosphere in an effective way that I have never seen used by other bands. The band themselves then come on the stage member by member, Sharon being the last to appear from a door in the middle of the stage, already singing.
Sharon's costumes are somewhat legendary - dresses that really catch the eye and are somewhat out of the ordinary and in this concert she doesn't fail to disappoint on that aspect (or indeed any) as there are a number of costume changes, all as good as each other.
It should be obvious to anyone watching this the amount of effort that went into bringing this concert, and indeed all of Within Temptation's concert's, together.
It's important to note that Sharon does not mime concerts so all singing is her own unmodified voice and it is incredibly impressive.
The concert itself stays at a consistent level throughout - fantastic singing and instrument playing with a variety of songs being played from throughout their whole career (although of course with more emphasis on their latest songs).
The concluding song of the concert is Ice Queen (off their Mother Earth album) and preceeding this Sharon does a short speech to the crowd which is partly in Dutch so you may wish to use the subtitles for this but it isn't really necessary and not being able to understand doesn't detract from the enjoyment of the concert as a whole. It is good to note that the energy of the concert has not dimmed throughout and on this last song is just as lively as ever, with vast quantities of white confetti being sprayed out over the crowd from the front of the stage.
At the end of this there is again a small speech in dutch and they bow to the audience.
The whole concert is well shot - crisp and clear images with a variety of angles.
The 2nd DVD:
Bonus concert - a similar concert to that on the first DVD but on a smaller scale. It's worth watching although I wouldn't recommend watching one concert straight after the other as their is some repitition of songs.
Settings - screen ratios and subtitles
Music Videos - What Have You Done, Frozen, The Howling and All I Need
The making of... - Has short making of videos for Frozen, The Howling and All I Need. These are well made, interesting and usefully (for us English people anyway) done in English.
World Tour impressions - US tour, Tokyo etc. Filming by the band in various parts of America and other countries. An interesting look behind the scenes - nice to see what the band get up to on tour when they're not on the stage.
(All in dutch - use subtitles)
TMF awards benelux - clip of Within Temptation acceoting an award and performing What Have You Done, All I Need
The dutch pop award show - hand held beind the scenes recording by the band and all the male members come onstage to accept an award wearing dresses.
Photoshoot Erwin Olaf - filming of the photoshoot for the CD ' The Heart of Everything'
Orchestra recordings - hand filming by the band and general filming of orchestra doing recordings in the studio for the album.
These are simply CD's of live versions of their songs. These clearly differ from the studio produced versions but as Sharon's voice is so good live, they are definately worth having and listening to.
A welcome addition to the DVD's for times when you're not able to watch a concert but still want to hear one!