In the absence of live shows as we know them, Dutch symphonic metal act Within Temptation have taken the idea of playing a simple online gig and moved it up a level, giving fans the full virtual reality sci-fi treatment. Instead of performing on a stage in an empty room, the band have produced something much more visually stimulating, creating not only a sequence of lavish futuristic sets but a fully functional wraparound storyline detailed ahead of each separate section by the disembodied head of a digitally constructed android.
The hour long show opens with the band sat atop a crumbling tower block playing ‘Forsaken’ while overlooking the ruins of a decimated city. Vocalist Sharon den Adel sounds and looks incredible, the singer clad in a black dress and ornate golden headwear, separate from the band for the first song but joining them for ‘Our Solemn Hour’. ‘Paradise (What About Us?)’ features the band’s first guest star, former Nightwish vocalist Tarja Turunen stood on her own individual platform above the decaying dystopian setting.
A live debut for ‘The Purge’ sees the action moving below ground with a new set that features plenty of red lasers and much CGI fire. Sharon, now in a silver dress adorned with angel wings leads the band into ‘Entertain You’ and ‘Raise Your Banner’ against a backdrop of spotlights, statues and floating platforms.
Another set and costume change precedes ‘And We Run’, a video screen showing rapper Xzibit performing his backing vocals in the background. Another live debut, ‘Shed My Skin’ features guest appearances by Christoph Wieczorek and Rudi Schwarzer, the two vocalists from German post-hardcore mob Annisokay while ‘Firelight’ sees the band joined by Arid vocalist Jasper Steverlinck against a backdrop of virtual burning embers. We head into space for the final segment, Sharon now wearing a striking red headdress as the show climaxes with ‘The Reckoning’, ‘Supernova’, and a superb ‘Stairway to the Skies’
An incredible visual experience different to virtually every other live streamed concert devised during the pandemic, the band wisely engage with their audience on an artistic level rather than attempt to connect more personally. The backdrops and effects are vivid and the sound is crystal clear, the only noticeable downside to the experience being that the band are clearly constrained by the limitations of their computer generated environments, no member being able to stray from their designated area. Still, that’s just one little niggle in an otherwise grand display of imagination and technology from one of the leading exponents of the genre.
Listen to ‘Shed My Skin’ across all major streaming platforms: https://wt.lnk.to/sms