Metal band, Within Temptation, is pushing the boundaries with their new album, Resist. They are waking the world up and are demanding action not only through their innovative sound, but also with their sharp lyrics.
Earlier this year, I spoke to the band’s frontwoman Sharon den Adel about how she learned to write with such figurative language, the effect of their music on their fans, and her personal idealistic motives.
The release of Resist has been postponed to February 1st, while the band is currently in the middle of their European tour. Are you seeing Within Temptation live soon? I looked up the lyrics to find the underlying message of their new album. Read all about why you should raise your banner for Within Temptation.
Anyone familiar with Within Temptation’s lyrics know that they’re filled with meaning. To find out how Sharon learned to write this way, she takes me back to her youth. “When Little Earthquakes by Tori Amos was released, I was experimenting with how I could express certain things with words. That record made me look at lyricists in a different way.
I have always been inspired by artists like Janis Joplin, Queen and The Doors. However, I was aware that bands like The Doors used drugs heavily, which in turn influenced their creative output. That didn’t appeal to me much as a teenager. I didn’t even smoke!
Tori Amos’ lyrics made me realise that you could write metaphorically, which was a real eye opener! I studied her lyrics and those of philosophers like Leonard Cohen.
Cohen has a great line: ‘I shared my last cigarette’. For someone who is a heavy smoker, sharing your last cigarette means that the person you’re sharing it with must be someone you care about, haha! I love lyrics like that: multilayered and open to interpretation.”
Research shows that only 1/3 of people pay attention to lyrics. Does Sharon think that her fans are aware of her lyrics?
“I believe that people are especially touched by the songs. They all have their own interpretation of what I write and they in turn feel my music through their own set of emotions. I am often amazed when I hear what people take away from it.
I’m often quite surprised about what people get out of my songs. I didn’t intend for the song to be interpreted like that specifically, but it’s still beautiful. Music helps people to process the things that happened to them. It also creates new memories which they might remember in the future, but it’s definitely not the same for everyone. There are also people who just listen to my music because it makes them feel good.”
Closely involved with fans
You can tell that Sharon is dedicated to her fans through her involvement with them. “Watching people enjoy my music while we are on tour is such a joy. Fans often share personal stories with me which is why I recognise certain faces in the audience.
There was, for example, a man who I knew had recently lost his wife. Throughout the Mother Earth period, he often stood at the front, going absolutely wild. I often thought ‘I hope he’s doing alright’.
Eventually, he came to say goodbye to us because he’d found a new girlfriend. He handed us a pin that belonged to his deceased wife and said ‘You will always be important to me, but from now on I won’t be seeing you perform as much. I was able to move on thanks to your music’. I thought that was incredible.”
Sharon often writes lyrics with her husband and guitarist Robert Westerholt. They are inspired by what they see around them, which is not limited to personal experiences:
“What happens on the world stage is an incredible source of inspiration for us. We can be very angry about politics, in particular about what is happening in Syria and Turkey. What also worries me is the freedom of the press.
It is not my intention to get involved in wars, especially when I don’t live or work in those places, but I do have an opinion about it and I want to say something about it. As an artist you should use your platform and talent to do so.
With that being said, we really want to support people who happen to be in these circumstances. We have fans in Turkey, Lebanon, Israel, South America… All places where there is a lot going on politically and socially.”
Pushing the Boundaries
You can clearly hear this on their newest album Resist.They don’t just point out the problems in society, but as the title indicates, they call for resistance. In a press release, Sharon spoke about the album’s message:
“It’s important to resist, because in today’s society, people are increasingly oppressed by social subjugation – a process fueled by authorities, dictators but also multinational corporations that manipulate and control. We have to break free in order to develop ourselves, especially when we are constantly being controlled and monitored by a higher power.”
A ‘higher power’ sounds a bit abstract, but it is something she believes we are all influenced by, often without realising it:
“We tend to think that our values are based on our own perspective of the world, but we don’t really think about how that perspective came to be. In fact, the way we look at things is biased: it is based on what our parents have taught us and is then polished by our exposure to media and outside opinions. We are living in the digital age, after all! Though evolution is the driving force of life, we always have to stay vigilant. It’s easy to be brainwashed nowadays by your society, or through the misuse of technology.”
But some things are already changing:
“Slowly but surely, we’re becoming more aware. We are all trying to escape and just admit it, so are you! We are trying to break free from our fixed patterns and our social commitments. We are in search of freedom to live life the way we want to live it, without anyone or any algorithm telling us what to do or what to think.”
Protect your freedom
Once you understand the underlying concept behind the album Resist, the lyrics of the second single ,Raise Your Banner, make complete sense:
Blood for freedom
[Verse 1: Sharon Den Adel]
You’re pushing me into the corner
Don’t fight with me, don’t fight with me, don’t fight with me
I’m crowning no man for his armour or rhapsody
For what I see and what I feel
[Pre-Chorus: Sharon Den Adel]
I’m defying you, seeing right through you
Once I believed in you
Feel what’s coming deep within we all know
Blood for freedom
[Chorus: Sharon Den Adel and Anders Fridén]
So raise your banner, fight your war
Break the silence, no remorse
Won’t die within
Blood for freedom
Raise your banner, won’t you come
Fight the venom, the good die young
Won’t die within
Raise Your Banner – Within Temptation feat. Anders Fridén
How can you make that difference? In her press release Sharon goes on:
“Arm yourself against organisations hidden behind the other end of your computer. Open your eyes to institutions that are currently developing programs to track your behavior. Open your eyes to a world that is dominated by governments that like to make you think you are a free person while they watch every move you make and control every step you take. Wake up and protect your freedom!”
Banners in the air
Based on our conversation and this new release, I found that Sharon den Adel has a unique and special connection with her fans as well as with today’s society. Her mission comes straight from the heart as she seizes the opportunities that she’s been given to make the world a better place.
Metal may be a genre that’s most popular with true lovers of the genre, but Within Temptation’s attitude and social responsibility should be enough to make you raise your banner for them!
About Sharon den Adel
Sharon den Adel became world famous as front-woman of metal band Within Temptation. The band was founded in 1996 and is now amongst the most successful in its genre worldwide. The band’s hits, include Ice Queen, Stand My Ground and What Have You Done. They released 7 studio albums, 2 live albums, a cover album and 3 DVDs.
Worldwide they sold more than 3.5 million units and for years they were the bestselling Dutch band abroad. In addition, Within Temptation won prestigious prizes and have been touring throughout Europe, Asia, North and South America.
Curious about My Indigo, the personal solo project by Sharon den Adel? Read my interview with her earlier this year here. Would you like to know what the biggest hits of Queen, one of Sharon’s greatest inspirations, are actually about? We found out for you!