LIVE REVIEW: Within Temptation @ Apollo, Manchester – 10th November 2018

The queue outside the Apollo is clearly full of symphonic metal fans, with the extensive range of goth clothing, and Within Temptation T-shirts setting the tone for the evening. The number of fans here is beyond expectations considering how niche the metal subgenre is in the music scene. The queue of fans extends round the Apollo, past the pub, past the tour buses, around the Apollo car park, finally ending opposite the Eccles Cake factory.

Ego Kill Talent (5) are the chosen support act for the symphonic metal giants. The sight of Orange amps and Stratocasters is not expected prior to Within Temptation’s performance. Ego Kill Talent perform well; their sound is well balanced, all parts are executed effectively and they have a good stage presence. However, the Brazilian five-piece rock band does not belong here. They feel so out of place. symphonic metal is not like other genres. Not only is it incredibly niche but it has such a unique sound that placing a generic rock band in the same setting does not work. Ego Kill Talent have a very generic appeal, their tracks a quite simple respecting the instrumentation. A couple of tracks in their set have heavier sections which have potential to become powerful breakdowns – but they cut off before anything interesting can occur. If they developed the guitar motifs and breakdowns their sound would become more unique, but at the present their tracks simply don’t go anywhere. Unfortunately for them, performing prior to Within Temptation, whose sound is unique, who develop their instrumentation and create tracks with wide variety, Ego Kill Talent’s undeveloped sound is merely emphasised.

A rather strange event during the rock quintet’s set involves vocalist Jonathan Correa. Halfway through a track, he stops to ask the existential question “Who am I?”, before dropping the microphone, a bizarre act that appears completely irrelevant to the track being performed. A spectacle for the sake of it is, once again, completely unfitting for the nature of this gig. Contrast this with the dark, dramatic and dystopian atmosphere Within Temptation have established with the release of The Reckoning, the first single off their new album, and the two could not be further apart. By no means should the support be identical to Within Temptation, a support should be dramatic, theatrical and explore heaviness of guitars and bass contrasted with melodies in vocals or other instruments. It should be unusual sounds, unique and niche artists performing for this is the ideal setting.

The following interlude sees the stage crew hurriedly testing all manner of lighting, effects and on-screen visuals in the build up to Within Temptation (9). The pyrotechnics set the scene for a fantastic theatrical performance. Within Temptation enter the stage to the sound of applause from the audience. The dystopian visuals on the huge backdrops accompanied with smoke, lighting and dystopian style stage wear establishes a dramatic atmosphere from the start. With the release date of their seventh studio album, Resist set for next month, this performance provided a preview of new tracks from the upcoming record. The depth of sound through bass parts, soaring synth lines and Sharon den Adel’s recognisable vocal texture lifting their tracks, shows their new album is to be highly anticipated. The thrilling sensation brought on by the synth intro of The Reckoning sends the crowd wild. This track appears to appeal to everyone with its catchy melodies, intense depth of sound and powerful vocals. The live performance takes this track even further with a wall of sound immersing the entire venue.

As well as revealing new tracks, the symphonic metal giants perform many of their most popular tracks from their previous albums. Paradise featuring Tarja Turunen, from their previous album Hydra, fits perfectly in the dystopian theme of the performance. With Tarja appearing on the screens behind, the lack of her presence for the live performance does not impact the effect of the track. 80s pop influences of Faster, from the 2011 album The Unforgiving, give the venue a party atmosphere whilst heavy tones and soaring vocals firmly hold the track in continuity with the set. And of course, a performance from Within Temptation would not be complete without What Have You Done?. The track featuring Mina Caputo featured on Within Temptation’s fourth studio album The Heart of Everything; a favourite track of the band, the audience can be heard singing along and dancing the energetic beat of the track. The encore sees a special performance of Stairway To The Skies. The haunting guitar melody and strings emphasises the gothic elements of the Dutch symphonic metallers. The uplifting chorus creates a fantastic atmosphere forming a dramatic but positive ending to the performance. With all the theatrical effects, this track was not going to be performed without a little extra something. Having changed from her dystopian attire into a white, angelic outfit, Sharon rises above the stage for a section of the track. The immense volume of her costume flowing around her forms an angelic visual and a sensational end to their show.

Once again, Within Temptation have proven their worth in the symphonic metal world, and in the music world in general. With such a high-quality performance; sound and visuals combined to create a theatrical production. Ego Kill Talent are by no means a bad band, this was just not the place for them and unfortunately were greatly under shadowed by the main act of the evening. As the Dutch symphonic metallers continue their tour, they leave behind further excitement and anticipation for the release of Resist.

Words by Holly Royle

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