By Brandon “B-Mac” McCarthy, Photos by Matt “Rabit” Martinez Red Hare Images
There are a lot of great metal bands that come from Europe. They all have the drive, ferocity, style, technique, and fan base. They do not always come to the United States either because of money issues or not a big enough following over. So whenever a popular European heavy metal act comes here to spread their chaotic sound, you should head over right away because you never know when they will play in the States again. So, on March 19th, Matt and I got word that Dutch symphonic metal greats Within Temptation would be stopping by the Wiltern along with Swedish death metal badass In Flames. Both groups banded together to celebrate the releases of their new records. The show also marked the last one on this current tour. Joining us on our latest adventure was Rockaholic (Tyler Olsen). It was a packed house full of fans that were giving their love the European groups.
After opening act Smash Into Pieces did their thing (we missed them due to traffic), In Flames engulfed the metalheads of L.A. with their opening number, “Voices.” In Flames have been killing it on the metal circuit with their recent string of hit records, and they continue that streak with their latest creation, I, The Mask. Frontman Anders Fridén was on his “A” game, bringing his deathly growl and melodic crooning. Newcomers Bryce Paul (bass) and Tanner Wayne (drums) wailed with aggressive attitude and valor, winning over the fans admiration for what they brought to the table. Rhythm guitarist Niclas Engelin was absent from this tour due to illness, so Act of Defiance axe-man Chris Broderick hailed the second guitar for the group. He fitted in very nicely with In Flames style. Along with lead guitarist Björn Gelotte, they both seized the moment when they each took turns on the lead riffs. As one of the pioneers of melodic death metal, they swooned the fans with their hit songs, including “Everything’s Gone,” “Where the Dead Ships Dwell,” “Monsters in the Ballroom,” “(This Is Our) House,” “Here Until Forever,” “I Am Above,” and “Cloud Connected.” Just as the band was about to into their closer, “The End,” Anders thanked the fans for a memorable tour, and ended the night with a monstrous bang.
Full In Flames gallery below:
After a set change to help set the mood, the symphony sound of Within Temptation hit the venue with “The Reckoning.” After 5 years without a new album, they brought us Resist, which was put together very well. Songstress Sharon Den Adel brought her mezzo-soprano style with grace and heavy exquisiteness. The kind of depth she has in her voice is mesmerizing to listen to. It is because of women like her, Floor Jansen, Tarja Turunen, Simone Simons, and Elize Ryd that make symphonic metal worth listening to. The guitar work was dazzling to hear, with both Ruud Jolie and Stefan Helleblad conquering the lead solos. They both brought their unique blend that make Within Temptation sound the way they sound. Ever since Helleblad took over touring duties for founding member Robert Westerholt (who is still a member, but does only studio work now), he has been handling himself really well. Drummer Mike Coolen, bassist Jeroen van Venn, and keyboardist Martijn Spierenburg are a great team while handling the beats of the music. They effectively are a lethal combination for Within Temptation.
What stood out the most during their performance were the screen monitors they had in the background. Each song had a different video that went along with the song’s style and with Coolen hammering on the drums in front of the main screen made him pop out. It was like a weird 3D effect that made him look cool. Adel sang her heart out to all of the tunes that makes Within Temptation epic. From “Endless War” to “In the Middle of the Night,” “All I Need,” “Covered By Roses,” “The Heart of Everything,” “The Cross,” “Paradise (What About Us?),” “Supernova,” and “What Have You Done,” the group conducted a symphonic charm that fans have been waiting for since they dropped Resist. During “Ice Queen,” they went unplugged where Jolie whipped out his acoustic guitar and captivated our hearts along with Adel’s soul operatic singing. After a brief break, the fans begged for more. They returned to stage, where Anders joined for “Raise Your Banner.” They then ended the night with their classic “Mother Earth.”
Full Within Temptation gallery below:
This was my first seeing both bands perform, and they were a delight to witness. In Flames were vicious and fierce with their death metal swagger, while Within Temptation orchestrated great metallic symphonies for the Los Angeles crowd. If there was any place for both bands to end their tour, then the Wiltern was a great place for them to end it. Who knows when they will return to the U.S., but they came and we took advantage of it. To Within Temptation and In Flames, I salute you. Horns up!!!