Throwback: Albums - The Unforgiving (2011) -
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Throwback: Albums – The Unforgiving (2011)
13 December 2018

Success was the key element for Within Temptation. After their last album, The Heart of Everything (2007), Within Temptation now began to create a fan base in the United States of America. It was time to create a follow-up album, which was released 2011 and called The Unforgiving. This week, our #throwback to this concept album.

The Unforgiving

The fifth full length studio album of the Dutch rock band has a large history. The album was released 2011, but in 2008 the band already started working on this album. For several reasons, it took the band 4 years to get this record released. We take a deeper look, to the early The Unforgiving-days. 

The Unforgiving (2011)
Promotional photo for The Unforgiving by Dutch photographer William Rutten. Click to enlarge.

Pre-recording stages

Within Temptation was an incomplete band during this era. They just said goodbye to their last drummer, Stephen van Haestregt – who decided to take a step back from the heavy touring and focus on his new band. For this album, the band worked with a session drummer. Therefore, the published promotional photos were with only five members, instead of six. This did not stop the band from creating a record.

During the early days of 2008, singer Sharon den Adel announced in a interview they were planning on creating a concept album;

What happened was that we wanted to write lyrics for a movie. We were searching for a good movie with a good story and everybody had different release dates. If something goes wrong, a movie can very easily be postponed for a year, and we couldn’t take the chance to have to wait for that, otherwise we would have had to postpone our album as well. So we decided to take the matter in our own hands.

They planned on writing the album in 2008 and record it in 2009. However, due to the second pregnancy of singer Sharon den Adel and her partner Robert Westerholt, the recording process of this album started in 2010. 

Recording “The Unforgiving”

The recording process of their fifth studio album took place between April and December 2010, in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The album contains strong and personal lyrics. The meaning behind the lyrics were not announced for a long time. Early 2018, when the Belgian TV show “Liefde voor Muziek” got aired and later in the interviews for VROUW Glossy, we learned the meaning behind these lyrics. 

The two, Sharon den Adel and Robert Westerholt, got separated for a while between the “The Heart of Everything” and the “The Unforgiving”-era. They eventually got back together and created a third child together. Sharon den Adel published her thoughts and feelings in the collaboration with Dutch DJ Armin van Buuren and they both made a statement with the lyrics on their fifth studio album. The lyrics were very personal to both, in this situation.

Concept album

November 2010 the band announced the title, artwork and concept of their fifth full length studio album. “The Unforgiving” was going to be a concept album, based on a comic book series created by the band in collaboration with Steven O’Connell and Romano Molenaar. 

Next to the album announcement, the announcement of the postponed tour was also been made. Due to an unforeseen third pregnancy of the third child of Sharon den Adel and Robert Westerholt.

The concept of “The Unforgiving” is about people who have made bad decisions in life. The comic books were translated into three short movies. Sharon den Adel explains the concept and the production of these short movies;

We wanted to put all the money into the movies. You have a budget and then you have to make choices and, to be honest, MTV and everything, it is not so big anymore. And when you make videos, they always say “you can’t use blood, you can’t use guns, you can’t use…” and we wanted to use everything: blood, guns… everything!

The Unforgiving (2011)
Promotional photo for The Unforgiving by photographer Jan Andraschko. Click to enlarge.


In order to promote their new concept album, Within Temptation released a total of five singles, from which two – the first and last one – promotional. “Where Is The Edge” – which was also used in the Dutch movie “Me and Mr Jones on Natalee Island”, their biggest hit from this era “Faster”, the poppy “Sinéad”, “Shot in the Dark” and “Fire and Ice” as final single. 

“Where Is The Edge”

Released 15 December 2010, this song got released just after the announcement of the fifth album. The song got released with a video which contains footage from the Dutch movie Me and Mr Jones on Natalee Island.


Honestly, the most known song from Within Temptation for non-fans since “Mother Earth”. They created a catchy pop-rock track with strong lyrics. Released 21 January 2011, digital and physical. “Faster” was also the very first music video which was released with the very first “The Unforgiving” short movie, “Mother Maiden”. Both released 10 days later, on 31 January 2011.


The third released single from “The Unforgiving” was the poppy “Sinéad”. The character of Sinéad was less poppy and loved to take down those who made bad mistakes in her life. The single was released 15 July 2011, digitally and physically. This single marked the last physical single released by Within Temptation. 

“Shot In The Dark”

Released 12 September 2011. “Shot in the Dark” is the last released single which was released with one of the three short movies, “Triplets”. The single was announced to have a physical release as well, but was dropped later and never released. Maybe that’s because the digital single edit was very… interestingly edited.

Not long after the release of the music video for “Shot in the Dark”, Within Temptation announced their longtime studio technician Stefan Helleblad joined the band as fulltime replacement for Robert Westerholt, who left the band to focus on his personal life and the three children he has with singer Sharon den Adel.

“Fire and Ice”

The very last single from the fifth studio album of Within Temptation was released 20 December 2011. The music video contains live footage from their “The Unforgiving Tour”-era.

Musicians on “The Unforgiving”

The album was recorded between April and December 2010. The album was produced by Daniel Gibson and Stefan Helleblad and released worldwide via Dragnet/Sony Music and Roadrunner Records.

Within Temptation:

  • Sharon den Adel (vocals)
  • Robert Westerholt (guitar)
  • Ruud Jolie (guitar)
  • Jeroen van Veen (bass guitar)
  • Martijn Spierenburg (keyboard)

Guest musicians:

  • Nicka Hellenberg (drums)
  • Stefan Helleblad (additional guitars)
  • Franck van der Heijden (choir and orchestra arrangements)
  • Dawn Mastin (spoken words on “Why Not Me?”  and “Iron”)