The Top 5 Singers from Female-fronted Symphonic Metal Bands
- Tarja Turunen
- Charlotte Wessels
- Sharon den Adel
- Sabine Edelsbacher
These are in my opinion, the top 5 female singers from popular female-fronted metal bands. The bands they represent are Delain, Within Temptation, Edenbridge, Sirenia, and Tarja Turunen (a artist currently performing under her own name, but was the woman who not only made Nightwish a huge success, but also popularized the genre itself). These artists are huge in Europe, and some of them are starting to break into foreign markets as well, such as the United States, South America, Australia, South Korea & Japan. I'll use the term 'metal' band generally here. When you hear the phrase 'Metal Band', you might quickly think 'Metallica', but in this case, it's different. Here we are covering symphonic metal, symphonic power metal, and gothic power metal. Yes, the number of genres is a little irritating ("can't we all just get along?"), but you know how the music industry and media loves to categorize everything.
These singers are my top 5 based on their vocal quality (how easy I find it to listen to their voice), their ability to sing different styles of music (from hard & heavy, to soft & sweet), and how well their voice compliments the instrumental portion of a majority of their songs.
1. Tarja Turunen
Solo Artist, & Previously with Nightwish
Tarja Turunen was born near Kitee, Finland, on August 17, 1977. She is a classicaly trained light lyric soprano, with a 3-octave vocal range. In her late teenage years, she was singing soul music cover songs from Aretha Franklin and Whitney Houston. Later, she developed an interest in "Phantom of the Opera", made popular by classical crossover singer Sarah Brightman, and decided to focus her talent on that genre.
A former classmate, Tuomas Holopainen asked Tarja if she wanted to work on a musical projects with him and other musicians, and she quickly agreed. After performing together, the instrumentalists decided to switch from accoustic instruments to electric, to better fit the power of Tarja's voice. And thus, Nightwish was born. From 1996 to 2005, Tarja was the face of Nightwish. After a concert one night, the band and Tarja parted ways.
My favorite songs from Nightwish with Tarja at the mic are "Dark Chest of Wonders", and "Ghost Love Score". Give those a listen, in that order, and you'll get a good sense of what Tarja is all about pretty quickly.
Now Tarja has completed her 3rd album of her solo career since leaving Nightwish, "Colors in the Dark".
Tarja's voice has been critically described as 'remarkably powerful and emotional'
2. Charlotte Wessels
Charlotte Wessels got me hooked on Delain when I ran across a video of her on YouTube performing "See Me in Shadow" (uploaded by PetroleumHead). Soothing, emotional, powerful, her voice has it all. So as before, I started listening to some of Delain's other songs, and became a fan.
Delain's latest all-new album at the time of this writing is "We Are the Others", which is also a title one of the songs on the album. According to Charlotte, the song is about finding acceptance, and is also a tribute to Sophie Lancaster. Sophie was a teenager who was severely beaten and later died from her injuries, by teenage boys who had a problem with Sophie's choice to be part of the 'gothic' sub-culture. Delain released a music video of the song, in which various folks hold up signs, each with a diferent things that people are often discriminated against for having an association with. The song is meant to celebrate peoples diferences.
To me, Delain is more hard rock with symphonic elements, than they are symphonic metal. Of course, right after I say that, I listen to their song "Sever", from their album 'Lucidity', and it's dripping with orchestral strings, a choir, and all the right elements of symphonic metal. At any rate, Charlotte's voice is soothing, strong, and balances perfectly with the bands guitar riffs and double bass drum beats. Delain has a personal connection to Within Temptation through their songwriter Martijn Westerholt, who was formerly part of Within Temptation. Because of this connection, Sharon den Adel has appeared with Delain on stage as well as in music videos.
3. Sharon den Adel
Sharon den Adel, born July 1974, was actually never formally trained to sing, nor did she study singing. She sang in a choir for a bit, but is almost entirely self-taught, by singing alone up to 4 hours a day. While she is Dutch, she prefers to sing English.
Sharon, along with her partner (on & off the stage) founded Within Temptation is 1996. They have 5 studio albums, and a number of guest appearances with other bands and singers.
Sharon & Within Temptation are credited with making the genre 'symphonic gothic rock' successful, spawning a slew of copy-cat bands.
Sharon's voice is majestic, angelic, yet also delicate. Her style, in my opinion, seems to change a bit each album. For example, her style on albums like “The Silent Force” seems very different than on the more recent "The Unforgiving". Which one is better? Neither. They both totally rock!
4. Sabine Edelsbacher
The thing I love about Edenbridge is that they are over the top, in your face music. The mood is almost always positive, epic, and engaging. Sabine's voice is powerful, controlled, and crystal clear. It's easy to imagine her singing solo in a cathedral, and still being able to understand her perfectly through the room's echoes. Check her out singing "The Canterville Ghost" on their album "Shine", or the title-track on "Solitaire".
Ailyn, whose real name is Pilar Giménez García, became the 4th singer for Sirenia, which prior to Ailyn, had released 3 albums. Ailyn is the first leading lady for Sirenia to last more than 1 album.
Ailyn grew in popularity when she became a contestant on the Spanish "X-Factor" television show (one of Simon Cowell's creations). She claims that she became Sirenia's singer quite by accident, even credits social networking for her getting the job (which was posted by Sirenia and applied for by at least a reported 500 women).
Ailyn's voice on "The Path to Decay", from the album 'The 13th Floor', is mesmerizing. She sounds powerful, yet soothing. Her vocal control is the perfect contrast to the heavy guitar riffs, and steady percussion. While the meaning of the song is something I disagree with, the musical & vocal qualities I find sonically addictive.
You owe it to yourself to hear Sarah Brightman sing "Fleurs du Mal" at least once in your life. The first time I heard her, I was listening to Pandora in the house, and immediately I stopped what I was doing and just listened. I was thinking "Oh my gosh! Who is this?! This is AWESOME!" So a short time later I had bought her album "Symphony", and since then read up on her and her background. Found out she enjoys trying different genres with almost each successive album. She has the highest net worth of any soprano in the world. She is preparing for a trip to the International Space Station in the next couple of years.