"I think this will be the last ‘traditional’ Within Temptation record": Sharon Den Adel and Robert Westerholt on how war, AI and experimentation has shaped their new album Bleed Out

Within Temptation
(Image credit: Tim Tronkcoe)

More than 25 years since they helped define symphonic metal, Within Temptation are still pushing boundaries creatively. 2019’s Resist incorporated more electronic elements into their sound, but a series of stand-alone singles has suggested the band are pushing the boat out even more with its follow-up. 

We caught up with vocalist Sharon den Adel and guitarist/vocalist Robert Westerholt to find out what lies in store… 

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You’ve called this album the ‘start of a new era’. What does that mean? 

Sharon: “We’re trying to find a new sound for ourselves. And we’re really interested in all these radical changes happening in the world right now and how they affect our lives, like with AI.” 

Robert: “We’re freer than we’ve ever been, and really enjoying experimenting. It’s also a new era in the styles of music we’re exploring.” 

As artists, how does AI affect you? Have you tried to see if a programme could write a Within Temptation song? 

Sharon: “We haven’t used AI at all when it comes to the music, but we used it a little for visualising things like the album cover and videos.”

Robert: “I can’t imagine ever using it when we’re songwriting. It’s very interesting, though! It feels like a complete revolution, not only artistically, but in terms of what this AI could represent technologically. Scary, but exciting!”

Sharon: “It’s an opportunity to find new methods of creativity. We’ve still used a designer for our cover so we’re not cutting out people, but we’ve used this technology to better express what we wanted and make it easier for them.” 

What’s the biggest surprise for fans on this new album? 

Sharon: “Every time you listen to the songs, you’ll discover more. There’s lots of layers of diversity in the songs.” 

Robert: “We’ve found a real love for the album [format] again and we’re trying to tell a story.” 

Is there a concept behind the lyrics? 

Robert: “There are a few themes rather than one concept, some being quite peripheral. Socially, we’re taking note of things happening in the world. The war in Ukraine had a big impact on us – we’ve played there quite a few times and felt like we got to know fans there, but also it’s really not far from our doors.” 

Sharon: “And if it doesn’t stop in Ukraine, it could be at our doorsteps a year later. There are lots of sports personalities we used to follow on social media from the Ukraine, like Alexandr Dolgopolov, a great tennis player who’s become a soldier to fight for his home. Ultimately, as musicians we tell stories and there are so many stories now coming at us.”

Are there any artists or records that have directly inspired the album? 

Robert: “I’ve found myself going for bands who go through these drastic, radical things in their songs. Songs with a lot of contrast are more exciting, more inspiring. I want to hear a record that can go from reggae to black metal!” 

Sharon: “Drastic change is something we want to try. Who knows what kind of cool things could come out of that?” 

How representative is single Wireless of the rest of the album? 

Robert: “There are a lot of elements we’re using in the new album on that track, melodically and rhythmically. Parts of this record are ultra-heavy. The contrast across the record helps those parts feel even heavier, too. There is even a bit of djenty stuff in there.” 

Sharon: “It’s the first time we’ve been able to go in and make adjustments to tiny bits within a song. We’ve tried in the past, but this feels like we’ve found a good method for getting those parts to fit together properly. I think this will be the last ‘traditional’ WT record.” 

Robert: “Every fucking metal band says ‘This is our heaviest album’, but for us, this is our most exciting album.”

Bleed Out is due October 20 via Force Music

Rich Hobson

Staff writer for Metal Hammer, Rich has never met a feature he didn't fancy, which is just as well when it comes to covering everything rock, punk and metal for both print and online, be it legendary events like Rock In Rio or Clash Of The Titans or seeking out exciting new bands like Nine Treasures, Jinjer and Sleep Token.