Within Temptation

support Beyond The Black
author LL date 24/10/18 venue Valby-Hallen, Copenhagen, DEN

Last time we witnessed the Netherlands' symphonic metal icons Within Temptation in this country, it was at the 2014 edition of the Copenhell festival with a smoothly running set. It drew some critics to comment negatively on the use of backtrack and general arena-style theatrical approach to the performance as exactly a show more than a concert. Tonight, though, the fans present in Valby-Hallen seem excited and very much more inclined to have their focus on other aspects of the performance, and as such, we're in for a more celebratory show filled with good vibes towards the band. But before we move on to thoughts about the evening's headliner, let's have a look at the support.

All pictures by Lykke Nielsen

Beyond The Black

Germany seems to generally be a good place to find power metal bands and Beyond The Black is no exception, mixing their power metal with symphonic elements which fit the bill tonight perfectly. They waste no time as they blast straight into their fast new single "Heart of the Hurricane", aiming to get the audience warmed up as quickly as possible. It seems nobody in the audience is familiar with them as evidenced by the scattered, unsure cheers when their guitarist asks if anyone knows they have a new album coming out. Nevertheless, we get the vibe that this is a band working firmly on their career and they smile and give it their all with big riffs, coordinated headbanging, and fists in the air to make an impact with the 35 minutes they have at their disposal. The older catchy singles "Lost In Forever" and "In the Shadows" understandably draw the biggest responses from the crowd as they run smoothly but still retain just a good metal edge. The march-like "When Angels Fall" hammers on as well with a darker sound than otherwise in the set and underlines the harsh growling contributions from the group's one guitarist, while newer songs like "Million Lightyears" come off as just too poppy in comparison, at least to my tastes. Finally, "Hallelujah" features some fast-paced solos for good measure and appeals in a bastard-gospel-like way to the ones inclined to dance a bit in the audience. It's all a bit cliché right from the song titles to the riffs, and later on even fiddle and flute effects, but it's a tried and true recipe and I'm sure they gather some new fans here tonight. Their vocalist nails her notes and their choppy guitar riffs melt seamlessly into the symphonic backtrack with plenty of choir effects to support them as well. As such, if anyone had forgotten what kind of live band they are here to see, Beyond the Black's polished style serve as a fine introduction to get us in the right mindset, even as they never quite move beyond the average.

6

Within Temptation

While the set-up of the support band was fairly straightforward and simple, huge props have arrived on the stage when it becomes time for Within Temptation to perform. Their drummer and synth-player each have their own plateau with a big video screen behind them in addition to the whole back wall being a huge screen with a huge mechanic cog circling the middle. The whole band is dressed in a kind of post-apocalyptic black and beige uniform and Sharon den Adel herself arrives in a white robe and futuristic dress, swinging a white flag as they open with a new song entitled "Raise Your Banner". All this is related to the story of their upcoming new record "Resist" which will be their seventh overall and is apparently centered around a theme of war and resistance with a very post-apocalyptic and industrial visual side. While the members of the audience don't know these new songs yet, apart from the single "The Reckoning" that appears tonight as the second song, they are already cheering loudly and banging their heads along to the rhythm. As opposed to the almost folksy tone of some of their earlier material, there's a clear electronic dub-step-like undercurrent in these new songs, just as was the case on the band's previous record from 2014, "Hydra". Unfortunately, they also sound somewhat uninspired, not least in the repetitive "Endless War" that doesn't leave me with the highest expectations for the new album.

But no matter, since the appearance of more familiar tunes quickly picks us up. "Stand My Ground" arrives early in the set and gets the first huge reception of the night as everyone seems to be singing along or raising their fists to cheer the band on. And it is a glorious song that most of us probably remember from being teenagers, but throughout pretty much the first half of the set, it is like den Adel's voice is not quite what you would expect it to be. She frequently holds an arm around her stomach while singing and she seems to be struggling a bit, especially with her higher notes. During a quieter song like "All I Need", it becomes more evident but at the same time, it also seems to give her more room to find herself with the slower pacing and lack of theatrical running from side to side of the stage. And sure enough, not long after we get a great combo of first "Shot in the Dark", that unites the crowd, much like how the much older classic "Stand My Ground" did, followed by a beautiful version of the grandiose "The Promise" that finally lets us hear a more powerful falsetto. Immediately after this stand-out moment, though, we are treated to an introduction to the song "Faster" which is almost an exact copy of what was mentioned at their Copenhell show four years ago and it is little things like this that cracks the illusion just enough for the smiles and routines on stage to appear more like theatre than reality.

Of course, that does not make a difference for the quality of their playing or their sound in general and these are both overall okay tonight. Valby-Hallen provides a somewhat muddy tapestry of sound but still, it appears more clear than I had expected. Towards the end of the set, the hard-hitting classics "The Heart of Everything" and "Mother Earth" both really get the audience moving, before a final encore of two songs. "What Have You Done" with Keith Caputo (Life of Agony), featuring as he did on the recorded version but only as a video image on the big screen of course, induces more head-banging and also ends up being a highlight of the show in general. The more serene "Stairway to the Skies" finally ends the set with den Adel shortly being attached to a ring that lifts her up with a huge added veil attached to her waist and reaching down to the ground in angel-like iconic fashion. In the end, although her voice ends up sounding more impressive than it did at first, it's just such a huge part of their appeal that it makes parts of the show a bit of a meager experience for me. In combination with the sheer glossy or show-like fashion that they continually choose to perform in, there's not quite enough for it to become a truly special experience although they did perform a mostly solid set.

Setlist:

  • 1. Raise Your Banner (new unreleased song)
  • 2. The Reckoning
  • 3. Endless War (new unreleased song)
  • 4. In the Middle of the Night
  • 5. Stand My Ground
  • 6. All I Need
  • 7. Supernova (new unreleased song)
  • 8. Shot in the Dark
  • 9. The Promise
  • 10. Faster
  • 11. Mercy Mirror (new unreleased song)
  • 12. Paradise (What About Us?)
  • 13. The Heart of Everything
  • 14. Forgiven
  • 15. Mother Earth

— Encore —

  • 16. What Have You Done
  • 17. Stairway to the Skies

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