February 3, 2020 Delain – Apocalypse & Chill (Album Review)
In February 2019, Delain teased us mercilessly with a preview of their new studio material on Hunter’s Moon, and now the full-length product of those sessions is finally here. Get ready, my friends, for some Apocalypse & Chill. Napalm Records delivers the alluring collection on Friday, February 7th, 2020.
Say what you like about Delain, but they are prolific. In just the past four years alone they have delivered 2016’s Moonbathers, 2017’s A Decade of Delain: Live at Paradiso, and 2019’s Hunter’s Moon. Formed in 2005, despite their fair share of lineup alterations, these Dutch Metalheads have always delivered the goods, an impressive five full-length albums—from 2006’s Lucidity to the aforementioned Moonbathers—that have paved the way for world travel and a dedicated fanbase.
Beloved in the hearts of many, Delain—Founder and Keyboardist Martijn Westerholt, Vocalist Charlotte Wessels, Guitarist Timo Somers, Bassist/Vocalist Otto Schimmelpenninck van der Oije, and Drummer Joey de Boer—are now prepared to issue their sixth opus, the 13-song Apocalypse & Chill.
Produced by Westerholt, the album opens to Wessels’ heavenly vocals leading the band into alluring rocker “One Second,” an infectious yet heavy earworm with lofty guitar work. Then, synths function as a clock that ticks into “We Had Everything,” a bizarre blend of Symphonic Metal and Dance Pop with notes of the ‘80s. Sounds crazy, sure, but it works amazingly well for the band and serves to highlight one of their undeniable strengths: Wessels’ exemplary vocals.
A more traditional track, the sultry physical reactions of “Chemical Redemption” allow Westerholt’s musicianship to shine as he tickles the ivories and leads his bandmates to glory in this mid-tempo enchantment. Digging deeper, the sinister stomp of “Burning Bridges” couples cinematic keys with driving guitars and some whispers from Wessels that are likely to excite many an autonomous sensory meridian response as Schimmelpenninck van der Oije plays the beast.
“Vengeance” invites Beast in Black’s Yannis Papadopoulos into the Delain fold for some guest vocals on a symphonic, driving rocker in the name of retribution. Next, sultry synths anchor the core of groover “To Live Is To Die,” and they keep the dance vibes going with banger “Let’s Dance,” blending sludgy, bass heavy moments with catchy choruses that will entice you out onto the dance-floor.
Fat bass bangs into the atmospheric “Creatures,” before they waltz into “Ghost House Heart.” Initially a piano ballad, the track sways sweetly through the memories and shadows, building into powerful choruses that perfectly contrast its predecessor and display the diversity of Delain. Meanwhile, “Masters Of Destiny,” previewed on Hunter’s Moon, is just as engaging here, with Wessels’ sweet vocals spelling listeners into an obvious choice for the collection’s first single/video. With all the hallmarks of what fans know and love about Delain, “Masters Of Destiny” is a strong representation of the best moments of Apocalypse & Chill.
Grabbing your attention from its first second, “Legions Of The Lost” is a bold, cinematic rocker, demonstrating the massive, multi-layered experience that Delain does best. Contrasting this, the sweet lullaby of “The Greatest Escape” slowly builds into an infectious rhythm, creating an undulating mood that entices and lulls fans into the album’s epic finale, “Combustion.” Here, bluesy guitars smoke the intro of the instrumental powerhouse, blazing an inferno that soars, rocks, and rolls the album to a truly impressive conclusion. (However, it should be noted that there is, in fact, a bonus edition available that extends the collection with three more orchestral tracks.)
Simply put, Apocalypse & Chill starts so immensely strong that it sets itself up for a bit of a lag in its second act, as not all of the 13-tracks are quite as substantial as their siblings. That said, Delain do recover their earlier, awe-inspiring textures to end super strong in the album’s very last act, completely blowing the roof off the house with their masterful instrumental “Combustion.”
For this, Apocalypse & Chill provides a complete journey, one that sees the group stepping beyond mere Symphonic Metal to explore a multitude of intriguing sonic territory as they continue to exude exquisite musicianship and a gift for crafting undeniably catchy yet heavy hooks. Because of this, Cryptic Rock give Apocalypse & Chill 4 of 5 stars.