Sound — 9
There's live albums. Then there are acoustic albums. Within Temptation are offering up a live, acoustic album, with renditions of their electric rock songs slowed down and softened. It's quite an ambitious undertaking to unplug and then record it live, but the band sound as though it rehearsed enough to be fully undeterred and undaunted by the undertaking! To be fair, none of the band's songs are particularly pummeling or uber-aggressive in the traditional metal sense, but they do have an edge that fully complements the icily beautiful vocals of frontwoman Sharon den Adel. On Within Temptation hits like Stand My Ground, What Have You Done, and Frozen, den Adel's vocals can still pierce the flesh with their precision and chill. She's almost like an opera singer in her ability to allow her voice to soar. Even though her voice isn't especially warm, it is always haunting and works with the music that is accompanying her vocal chords. There is some crowd banter and some crowd noise, but it's never overpowering nor does it subtract or distract from the quiet, contemplative renderings of the songs. Delivering the songs in a live, acoustic format allows their moodiness to take center stage. It's minimalistic and stripped down, but the power of their progressive-tinged music remains the same. The album was recorded at the Muziekcentrum Frits Philips in Eindhoven, Holland on November 30 of 2009.
Lyrics — 9
The special guests are all vocal on this release and includes Life of Agony's vocalist Keith Caputo for the single What Have You Done. Caputo guested on the album version, so it was only appropriate that he contributed his powerhouse vocals to the live version. He and den Adel have a fluid chemistry in this softer version. The Gathering's Anneke van Giersbergen and den Adel embark on female empowered partnership on Somewhere. The ladies have very different vocal styles, but when layered, they make a gorgeous, bone-chilling harmony. It's unexpected and can make you weep with emotion; that's how gorgeous these two voices mesh and melt into one another. Their like the sirens who lured nearly lured Odysseus off course! The album's sole new track, Utopia, written during the rehearsals for this tour and is duet with UK singer-songwriter Chris Jones. It's a nice change of pace, after the hugeness of Caputo's voice and the lilt of van Giersbergen's. Den Adel and Jones weave a tapestry of vocals on another downright pretty song.
Overall Impression — 8
Ultimately, it's the vocals that are in the driver's seat of this release. Den Adel is the centerpiece but the laid back, low key acoustic transformations of the songs fit her like a glove. An Acoustic Night at the Theatre is one of those mid-winter, Saturday afternoon, cup of tea records. Curl up with it then!