Christmas has come early this year for fans of Dutch symphonic metal contingent, Within Temptation. Not only is the Netherlands based sextet re-issuing its first two releases, Enter and The Dance EP (on one disc), but they will also be releasing one of 2014’s best live packages, Let Us Burn: Elements & Hydra Live in Concert. Let Us Burn features two separate concerts; one from the 2012 Elements tour recorded at the Sportpaleis in Antwerp, and the final night of the European leg of the Hydra tour at Heineken Music Hall in Amsterdam. The set features 32 songs on two discs, and 34 total tracks including show intros on one DVD or Blu-Ray disc.
Within Temptation is one of the most exciting live bands currently performing, and their shows are, in the words of one Seattle fan who recently attended the opening night San Francisco show, “sensory overload.” The visuals combined with the amazing music and electrifying performances make for an unforgettable show. Let Us Burn: Elements & Hydra Live in Concert is the first full live CD/DVD the band has released since 2008’s Black Symphony set.
The first disc, Elements, takes the band on a journey through its own history, performing songs off each of the band’s first five studio albums. From their 1997 album, Enter, the band delights the crowd with “Candles”; featuring guest appearances from original band members keyboardist Martjin Westerholt (now in Delain) and guitarist Michiel Papenhove. From the 2000 sophomore album, Mother Earth, the band chose the title track and “Ice Queen”. Within Temptation began to evolve its sound on 2004’s The Silent Force, and for the Elements tour they represented the record with the hits, “Stand My Ground”, “Angels” and “The Promise”, as well as the more obscure track, “Say My Name”. From 2007’s brilliant, The Heart of Everything album, they performed “Our Solemn Hour”.
The largest chunk of the Elements setlist was dedicated to the band’s 2011 release, The Unforgiving, from which they tuned up “Iron”, “Faster”, “In the Middle of the Night”, Fire and Ice”, “Sinéad”, “Stairway to the Skies”, and the bonus track, “The Last Dance”. Band co-founder Robert Westerholt, who no longer tours with the band, performed guitar for this hometown show.
The Hydra setlist included seven performances from the Elements tour, but also included eight of the 10 tracks from this year’s Hydra release. The show opened with “Let Us Burn” as well as “Edge of the World”, “Covered By Roses” and “Silver Moonlight”. The three video singles from Hydra which featured guest vocalists were also performed; “Dangerous” (Howard Jones of Devil You Know, ex-Killswitch Engage), “And We Run” (rap artist Xzibit),, and “Paradise (What About Us?)” (Tarja Turnen). During each of the latter, the guest vocalist is portrayed visually on screen behind the band. Within Temptation did the same with Keith Caputo for his duet on the track “What Have You Done” from The Heart of Everything album. Closing out the second disc, the band does beautiful acoustic renderings of “Whole World is Watching” and “Sinéad”.
In all, both sets provide fans with 25 classic Within Temptation songs covering all their albums, with an emphasis on the two most recent studio efforts. The performances sound flawless, and vocalist Sharon den Adel is masterful as ever. I have never heard her hit a bad note, and her voice is both powerful and beautiful—her stage presence among the best in the business, and her personality, charisma, and genuine warmth explode off the stage. The entire band, which also includes; Ruud Jolie (guitars), Stefan Helleblad (guitars), Martijn Spierenburg (keyboards), Jeroen van Veen (bass), and Mike Coolen (drums ), provide one of the tightest performances I have ever witnessed. The music, the energy, the songs—are simply magical and uplifting in their inspired and honest delivery.
Let Us Burn: Elements & Hydra Live in Concert is about as close to a perfect recorded concert performance as you can get. The only thing that could have made this set better is 32 different songs with no repeats, but in all, it is a magnificent live event dynamically captured for fans old and new. For many fans not living in major cities, this may be the closest they will get to experiencing Within Temptation‘s extraordinary live performances.
The set releases November 24 through Nuclear Blast records. Pre-order your copy here or on the band’s website.