Within Temptation's Sharon Den Adel on the evolution of women in metal

A photograph of Within Temptation onstage

Do you remember the first time you were in Hammer?

Sharon Den Adel (vocals): “I do. I remember thinking it was a big thing, to be talking to English magazines. We were doing very well in Europe and we knew we had fans in the UK. Being successful there is one of the big goals, you know? We’re very grateful for the support Metal Hammer has given us over the years. You guys have been great.”

How significant was symphonic metal when you started?

“It was still quite new, I think. There was Nightwish, of course, but they were only starting to become really, really big. I didn’t have much experience when I started the band with Robert [Westerholt, guitars], but we did have a feeling that what we were doing was going to work – that people would like it.”

What role have you played in its rise?

“I think we brought a different edge to it, our own personality, particularly on our last two albums [2011’s The Unforgiving and 2014’s Hydra]. I don’t think any of us sound alike – Nightwish or us or Epica or any of the other guys. We have similarities and we all have a very big sound, but I think Within Temptation has a very strong identity.”

What’s been the highlight of Within Temptation’s career to date?

“Doing the big, special shows like our Black Symphony and the Elements show [with an orchestra], those were the moments when we realised how far we’d come. I was super nervous before Black Symphony because we had so many things to think about… but when you do something on that scale, that’s when you feel really great about making music and how proud you are of each other, and the fans! I know it’s a cliché, but it’s so true – we couldn’t do any of this without the fans and their love.”

Who from Hammer’s world has inspired you the most?

“Oh, there are so many great bands. It has been really inspiring to be part of this scene, with so many other great women singing in bands that are very successful. I sometimes talk with Tarja and Cristina [Scabbia] and Anneke [van Giersbergen] about that. Things have changed a lot since 1997. It’s just so exciting to think about what we can do now, and in the future. For any artist, creating the next chapter is always the most exciting part.”

The Within Temptation Quiz

Within Temptation's Sharon Den Adel: The 10 Records That Changed My Life

Within Temptation and... Xzibit?!