November 9, 2016 Delain – Moonbathers (Album Review)
Symphonic Metal is a genre that offers entrancing, operatic vocals set to labyrinthine melodies and heavy, epic rhythms. European acts such as Nightwish, Sonata Arctica, Tristania, and Within Temptation lead the cavalcade of melodic, soul-bearing musicians that have become a popular draw for Heavy Metal fans. Then comes the Netherlands native band Delain, which began their journey nearly fifteen years ago when Keyboardist Martijn Westerholt picked up writing music again following his departure from Within Temptation after contracting Pfeiffer’s disease. Taking a couple of years to get off the ground, Westerholt teamed up with the exquisite vocals of leading lady Charlotte Wessels. Moving forward with big ambitions, they began emerging onto a scene that was ripe for something fresh and full of heart when they released Lucidity in 2006. Putting them on the Heavy Metal map, extensive touring would follow and the band quickly developed a reputation for truly dazzling performances.
In the decade that has followed, Delain have won over thousands of converts across the globe, from “hometown” European fans to captivated American crowds. Four studio albums and countless Atlantic crossings later, these modern Metalheads are back with their latest effort, Moonbathers. Released on August 26, 2016 via Napalm Records, it marks their first album since 2014’s exceptional concept piece, The Human Contradiction. Led by Wessels and Westerholt, they are joined by Guitarist Timo Somers, along with Bassist Otto Schimmelpenninck van der Oije, as well as newest members Guitarist Merel Bechtold and Drummer Ruben Israel. Moonbathers promises to offer another exceptional selection of songs to listeners.
Comprised of more massive riffs and with a renewed emphasis on sensitive, sweeping ballads, this is an electric offering full of extremes. From the opening lines of “Hands of Gold,” ” . . . Heaven knows I tried to steer away, delicious danger made me stay . . . ,” poetic lyrics whisper across Wessels’ lips like a fairytale, as a churning sea of melodic, symphonic, heavy orchestral Metal sets the scene for an anthemic chorus. Topped off with a guest appearance from Alissa White-Gluz of Arch Enemy growling Oscar Wilde prose, it will take just this opening track to make one a convert.
Renowned for penning lyrics that truly resonate with Delain’s large fan base, Wessels has excelled herself on this latest collection. The new songs range from aggressive assaults including “The Glory and the Scum” and “Fire With Fire,” to a stellar cover of Queens’ “Scandal.” Meanwhile, tracks such as “Suckerpunch” and “Turn the Lights Out” are more Pop Rock leaning, giving them a broader appeal to audience’s beyond the diehard Metal following. Full of power, poetry, vocal glory, and symphonic melody, Moonbathers runs the gamut, proving that Delain are truly competent, musically, as well as lyrically, gifted unit.
An album that has received peak chart positions in various markets, including #5 on US Billboard Top Heatseeker Albums, Moonbathers continues the evolutionary climb of Delain. While some may have been a little apprehensive following the EP release of Lunar Prelude in 2015, not knowing which direction the band would be going, the majority of Moonbathers is surprisingly heavier than much of their earlier work. A decade into their career, with an outstanding new collection of Rock-n-Roll that traverses the darker side of hope, Delain are leaving no doubts behind that they are a crucial name in the Symphonic Metal scene. CrypticRock gives Moonbathers 4 out of 5 stars.