You voted... now here's the results. :D
5. Anette Olzon
In at number 5 - it's Nightwish's new leading lady Anette. Introduced on 2007's Dark Passion Play, she divided fans with a voice distinctly different from the band's original singer (Tarja Turunen). Despite this, Anette has earned a place in the hearts of many Nightwish fans. Formerly the lead singer of Swedish band Alyson Avenue, she has also made guest appearances on songs by Pain, Brother Firetribe and The Rasmus. Anette is working on a solo album, which she plans to release sometime after Nightwish's epic film/album project, Imaginarium.
4. Simone Simons
Simone Simons of Dutch band Epica jumps in at number 4. She began singing after being inspired by Nightwish's Oceanborn album, and sought classical training. She was recruited to Epica by (her then boyfriend) Mark Jansen, who had just left After Forever. The band have since released four studio albums, a live DVD and a live CD featuring many classical and film soundtrack songs. Epica's next album is currently being written and is due to be released in early 2012. Simone also appears on many songs by Kamelot, as well as singing for Ayreon and Mark's new side project, MaYaN.
3. Vibeke Stene
Until 2007, Vibeke was the lead singer of Norwegian gothic metal band Tristania. She was one of the founding members of the band (along with Morten Veland, who later left to form Sirenia). Another classically trained singer, Vibeke's soprano style added a beautiful touch to Tristania's melancholy music, which undoubtedly inspired a whole generation of gothic metal bands. She recorded six albums before leaving, reportedly to teach singing.
2. Tarja Turunen
Nightwish's Tarja is the very lady that defined symphonic metal. Combining her lyrical soprano voice with heavy music, the band essentially created the genre. But in 2005, after five albums, Tarja was fired from Nightwish, amid accusations that she didn't take their music seriously and had fallen out with other members. Tarja then went solo - first with a Finnish-language debut, then with a further two studio albums. She is about to tour with Leaves' Eyes, and recently released a charity single to benefit Japan. (Get it here - the song is a duet of 'Underneath' featuring Jyrki from The 69 Eyes.)
and... the number one favourite Symphonic Metal lady is...
1. Sharon Den Adel
In 1996, Sharon and her partner Robert Westerholt founded the band Within Temptation. They started out as a gothic/doom metal band, with their debut release Enter (1997). For the second album, the band abandoned death growl vocals and moved towards a symphonic sound. This album was 2000's Mother Earth, a folky offering where Sharon adopts a style of singing very similar to that of Kate Bush - unlike many SM singers, Sharon never received classical training.
Yet it was The Silent Force (2004) that brought global renown to the band, a record that blended their dark roots with the signature symphonic sounds of orchestras and choirs. The Heart of Everything (2007) followed suit, featuring somewhat heavier songs in truly epic style.
For their latest release, WT decided to try something different. The Unforgiving is a concept album, backed up by an original comic telling the story of the band's characters. Whilst certainly propelling them towards the mainstream market, The Unforgiving contains some excellent examples of SM, and Sharon's voice shines stronger than ever.
Sharon has also appeared on songs by Delain, Avantasia, Ayreon, and even a dance music track by Dutch DJ Armin Van Buuren.
Although there are debates as to whether WT can truly be considered SM, it is clear that they have had a great influence on other bands in the genre. Sharon herself describes their music as 'symphonic rock', yet many of their songs clearly have a place in metal.
Before singing in WT, Sharon was a fashion designer. She now puts her skills to good use by designing her own stage outfits, and some of the band's merchandise. She has three children with Robert - Eva Luna, Robin Aiden and Logan Arwin (born in March). The band's tour was postponed due to her unexpected pregnancy, so they will now begin their world tour in August.
So, if you're heading to see Sharon - officially a goddess of Symphonic Metal - in London this year, I will see you there!