Okay, cards on the table……I have been a big fan of Delain since catching them at their first UK show in 2009, and have seen them many times since, both in the UK and further afield, and consider them one of my favourite bands.
When I was given their latest album, ‘Moonbathers’, for review, I was mindful that the review should be objective, and not influenced by any fanboy bias. I therefore listened to the album carefully and critically several times before committing pen to paper……..
Dutch symphonic metallers Delain have been going from strength to strength over the last few years, playing to ever growing audiences and selling out venue after venue.
Moonbathers is their 5th full length and marks the 10th anniversary of their debut album ‘Lucidity’. It’s also the follow up to the Lunar Prelude EP, which teased us earlier this year with a mixture of new tracks, a remix and live recordings.
Things open with ‘Hands of Gold’, a high energy track where pummeling riffs combine with majestic melodies setting the scene nicely for the rest of the album. Charlotte pushes her vocals beyond previous boundaries, and sounds great, particularly when juxtaposed against the growls of Alissa White-Gluz.
The first single from Moonbathers ‘The Glory and the Scum’ follows, continuing the theme of epic symphonic metal with a pristine production, allowing every single member of the band to shine.
‘Suckerpunch’ follows with more infectious melodies! This track will be familiar to many, having been on the Lunar Prelude EP, and a regular on the set list in recent times. The intro showcases Charlotte at her best, as the song builds around her. The track is surprisingly upbeat considering the lyrical content (which I interpret as being about fighting your inner demons) and you will be humming it for a while after listening to it! This is destined to become a classic and I expect this to be in the set list for years to come.
The pace slows for ‘The Hurricane’, but the intensity increases as the brooding number unfolds. The pace slows even further for ‘Chrysalis – The Last Breath’, which is a stripped back ballad. Although not as immediate as other tracks on the album, this track rewards investment and active listening, and I cannot wait to hear this one live.
The tempo picks up for “Fire with Fire’, which has more of a hard rock feel to it than symphonic metal , and it is an absolute belter. ‘Pendulum’ sees a return to a more metal feeling, opening with harsh growls before giving way to Charlotte’s rich vocals as the track builds to its climax.
There is a definite change in atmosphere as ‘Danse Macabre’ opens with tribal chants, and a nod towards tribal style drumming, before it morphs back into a more familiar sound. Things move on with a cover of Queen track ‘Scandal’, which is perhaps a surprising choice but works very well. To my ears, it has more depth than the original and sounds angrier!
‘Turn the lights out’ follows, bringing a more melancholic feel to proceedings. As with ‘Suckerpunch’, this track will be familiar to many having been on the Lunar Prelude EP, and in the live set for the last year or so. It opens with majestic symphonic swathes before Charlotte’s powerful vocals become the focal point, sounding vulnerable and powerful at the same time. The album is brought to a close with ‘The Monarch’ which is in effect an extended outro, consisting of over two minutes of glorious instrumental, before a short spoken word piece gives way to more instrumental, overlaid with subtle humming bringing the album to a close.
With ‘Moonbathers’, Delain have managed to keep their trademark sound while pushing the boundaries and sounding fresh and engaging with a variety of moods and textures. This is their finest moment, and everything that a symphonic metal album should be.
(10/10 Andy Pountney)