Every Within Temptation album ranked from worst to best

Within Temptation 2023
(Image credit: Tim Tronckoe)

Since forming in the 90s, Within Temptation have become one of the most successful bands in modern metal. Led by singer Sharon Den Adel and her husband and bandmate, Robert Westerholt, the Dutch stars helped put symphonic metal on the map in the noughties but have since transformed into festival-headlining rock powerhouses. In 2023, they released their eighth studio album, Bleed Out, a critically acclaimed offering that perfectly encapsulated their journey so far. With that in mind, here are all eight of Within Temptation's albums ranked, from worst to best.

Metal Hammer line break

8. Hydra (2014) 

2014’s Hydra was the album that transformed Within Temptation into festival headliners, but it found the the band sounding a little lost musically. “We were searching for something new, but I think we didn’t find it,” they would later tell Hammer, and that’s the best way to sum it up. Hydra aims for stadium rock but lacks the cinematic confidence the band would go on to achieve with 2019’s Resist. It’s not all bad - the album does include banger Paradise (What About Us?), featuring Tarja Turunen, but it also includes And We Run, their clunky and misguided collab with rapper Xzibit. Overall, it’s their least cohesive effort.

7. Enter (1997)

Within Temptation’s debut is a dark outlier in their discography. Released three years before they started harnessing more grandiose sensibilities, Enter was a slice of doomy, Paradise Lost-inspired goth. These days, they rarely play anything from it live, but the album remains a gauge of how they have grown and developed since those early days. And while they’re musically unrecognisable now, the intricate elegance and cold beauty of tracks like Restless and Pearls Of Light has stayed with them throughout their career.    

6. Resist (2019)

From here on, the ranking gets a little trickier, such is the quality of the band’s remaining output. Born from a shaky period of writer’s block and general burnout, Within Temptation’s seventh album was the sound of a band reborn. Where Hydra had faltered, Resist soared. Emphatic, anthemic and cinematic, the sonic changes they’d been tinkering for years finally fell into place, pushing them into a brand new era. This album is huge, every chorus reaching new heights amid a supercharged focus on electronics and some of the band’s best guitar work to date.

5. Mother Earth (2000)

In the three years since their debut, Within Temptation took a massive step forward in every sense. Mother Earth was an ambitious epic that introduced most of the world to Sharon Den Adel’s stunning voice and saw the band usher in classical and symphonic elements, albeit with a folkier edge than their later, more bombastic material. The title track and Ice Queen are still two of the band’s most beloved songs, evoking an enchanted landscape of frosted lakes, waterfalls and fairy-lit forests that even now, sounds like the national anthem of Rivendell.

4. The Silent Force (2004)

This was the moment Within Temptation became real contenders. Their third album pushed their symphonic tendencies into the spotlight, creating an alchemy of grandeur and beauty and even now, some of the band’s best loved singles, Stand My Ground, Angels and Jillian (I’d Give My Heart). Following the ethereal sparkle of Mother Earth, The Silent Force was a heavier, darker collection that proved the band were hitting their stride, and they’ve never looked back since.

3. Bleed Out (2023)

Taking the huge sonic strides forwards that Resist brought to the table and polishing them up, Bleed Out felt like the perfect crystallisation of Within Temptation's journey so far. Packing a dizzying mixture of gorgeous melodies, symphonic pomp, glitchy electronica and heavy metal thunder, stadium-ready anthems like We Go To War, Wireless, Ritual and The Purge gave the record an alarmingly prolific hit-rate, the band's songwriting chops honed to perfection after more than a quarter-century in the game. Clearly, Within Temptation have matured wonderfully, and Bleed Out is up there with their very finest work.

2. The Unforgiving (2011)

If you split Within Temptation’s career into three distinct eras; starting with the ornate gloom of their early material, then the symphonic drama of the noughties, this was the moment the band switched gears again -  this time for arena-sized rock. The results were flawless, an infectious collection of Eighties-indebted, pop-metal anthems that could have all been singles. With tracks like Faster, Iron and Sinead, this album laid the roots for the band to transition into the powerhouse juggernaut they are today.

1. The Heart Of Everything (2007)

With barely a hair’s breadth between them, it’s virtually impossible to untangle the top three or four albums in this list but The Heart Of Everything just edges it into the top spot. The band nailed everything about their formula here: dramatic strings, histrionic vocals, gigantic choruses and beefy guitars, everything is dialled up as far as it’ll go. It’s the glossiest and most commercially-minded effort of their symphonic era and contains some of their biggest belters; between stunning opener, The Howling, the melodic ecstasy of What Have You Done and gorgeous ballad Frozen. It’s Within Temptation at the very height of their powers.

Dannii Leivers

Danniii Leivers writes for Classic Rock, Metal Hammer, Prog, The Guardian, NME, Alternative Press, Rock Sound, The Line Of Best Fit and more. She loves the 90s, and is happy where the sea is bluest.

With contributions from