“An Acoustic Night At The Theatre” by Within Temptation

Artist: Within Temptation
Title: “Acoustic Night”
Label: Roadrunner Records
Release Date: 11/24/2009
Genre: Gothic Rock
Rating: 4/5

I’ve happily been a fan of Within Temptation since I first saw their video for “Mother Earth” on an internet music service once run by Yahoo.com and I have kept following them ever since that time. With this being the case I felt that I was able to offer some solid insight into the band’s releases a little better than a more casual observer. If you are just joining us about this wonderful band then I suggest hitting their Wikipedia page to get some more background for I’ve not the time to recant history in this album review, but once you’ve done that by all means please pick up where you left off. As many know, the band plays a thunderous brand of Symphonic Gothic Metal and is fronted by the soaring vocal powers of Sharon den Adel and with albums like “Mother Earth” and “Shining Force” has made tens of thousands of fans around the world who follow them with incredible levels of passion and loyalty. This is easy to find being the case when you realize just how good so many of their tunes are. The latest album is entitled “An Acoustic Night At The Theatre” and this finds the band joining the ranks of the countless groups who have already slowed things down a little bit in terms of tempo in order to deliver a set of their greatest tunes in the acoustic sense. Admittedly this works better for some bands than it does for others and I am happy to report that Within Temptation is able to do this with apparent ease. Let’s look deeper into the album shall we?

The album brings us back to 2008 when the band had embarked on a theatre tour and since this did not reach my part of the world, I will have to assume that the entire show was done in the acoustic manner. I could be wrong in this of course, but I digress. It begins with a song called “Towards The End” which was new to my ears and did not seem to appear on any of the three albums that I own. Based on this I enjoyed it as an opener very much and this effectively brought my mind and thoughts into the performance. It’s followed by “Stand My Ground” which hails from their “Silent Force” album, and honestly a release that took me a little longer to appreciate than I had expected. It’s a very good album, but was melodically more commercial than its predecessor “Mother Earth”, but I will keep those views to the review of that album and continue on about this one. Musically speaking I did not expect to hear much from “Mother Earth” based on its overpowering nature and I was proven correct as only “Caged” is performed during the concert. If you scan the set list for the show, you will realize how “The Silent Force” and “The Heart Of Everything” are given the most attention with four and five songs apiece being presented. I found it interesting in just how well the “Silent Force” material worked in this fashion and loved “Memories” along with Sharon’s duet with the former singer of The Gathering Anneke van Giersbergen. I’ve seen them do this on the “Black Symphony” DVD and they honestly are magical when they pair up. Ladies please record an album together because it would work. The other duet is the bands hit from “The Heart Of Everything” in “What Have You Done” and this number once again gives us Keith Caputo from Life Of Agony. I’ll leave it at his voice never having impressed me so I am once again wondering why he had to make an appearance. This marks three versions of the tune we get him on and I am still stumped. I guess the hard core LoA fans will go insane for this while the rest of us couldn’t care less. The tune also works in the acoustic sense which I found surprising based on its feel and drive. It didn’t say acoustic to me when I first heard it, so kudos to the band for making it shine in this fashion. Other highlights come care of “Frozen” which has a more heartfelt feel to it and “All I Need”. We also get a brand new song with “Utopia” and at first I was not sure who the male vocal was and learned it was Chris Jones, a British singer. The tune works and is very radio friendly, so let’s hope a few of those providers around the world pick it up. It’s not live like the rest of the album, and instead a new studio inclusion to hold us over until the band releases their next album.

A booklet comes with the release and offers up a number of wonderful photos from the show. As I glanced at them I had to wonder if this would eventually be released as a DVD since that would be nice to have and bring a larger home audience into the intimate warmth that was this particular tour. Perhaps they will re-issue the CD with a DVD companion to it going forward as we have sometimes seen done with releases. Honestly, that would make the most sense as while they are often enjoyable, there is nothing truly visually exciting going on at an unplugged show except when the guests come out that is. Closing up I will admit that this is not the perfect choice for you to begin your quest into the music of Within Temptation and suggest that you either purchase the remastered “Mother Earth” CD or the live concert “Black Symphony” DVD which are both extraordinary examples of the bands work. This is a trimmed down and bare bones reworking of their music and while I enjoyed it, feel that some fans might be turned off by it. It reminded me of The Gathering’s “Sleepy Buildings” album which found the other Dutch powerhouse performing in an acoustic manner. If you have heard that album and enjoyed it, then there is no reason for you not to enjoy “An Acoustic Night At The Theatre” by Within Temptation.

Track Listing:
1. Towards The End
2. Stand My Ground
3. Caged
4. All I Need
5. Frozen
6. Somewhere
7. The Cross
8. Pale
9. What Have You Done
10. Memories
11. Forgiven
12. Utopia

Official Website: http://www.within-tempation.com

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