Delain have been one of my favourite bands for many years, their debut album Lucidity was a perfect gothic metal album filled with atmosphere, fantastic song-writing, and excellent vocals from both lead singer Charlotte Wessels and a variety of guest performers. They followed this up with April Rain, an absolutely gorgeous album, catchy and poppy while remaining heavy and brilliant. 2012’s We are the Others was another good album, but a little disappointing compared to their first two. It had some great songs, but a lot of filler tracks and it wasn’t quite up to Delain’s lofty standards. Now comes their latest offering, The Human Contradiction, and it was difficult to predict whether Delain would return to form, or deteriorate further with the new release. Thankfully it’s the former, and the album is absolutely fantastic. It’s Delain’s heaviest, darkest album to date, and they’ve successfully shifted direction, while retaining everything that makes Delain’s music so good.
What’s clear from the outset is that Delain’s sound is much grander than it’s ever been before. Martijn’s layers of keyboards are much more epic than in previous albums, they have a more complete and vibrant sound here than ever before, giving an extra dimension to the band’s music. The guitars are heavier than their previous albums, down-tuned, dense and uncompromising, Timo’s playing is much improved upon from the nu-metal tendencies of the previous album, while the song writing is much bolder and more adventurous,and throughout the album the band just have a huge sound thanks to these changes.
Opening track Here come the Vultures is the band’s longest track to date, with lyrics based on Charlotte’s nightmares. As such the track is very varied, and really dark, with fantastically heavy down-tuned guitars belting out pounding riffs, while creepy keyboard melodies provide an unsettling atmosphere, one that’s accentuated by backing choirs and growls. With a slower break in the middle of the track, Charlotte hums unsettlingly over creepy la-la-la type backing vocals, and this is some of the most interesting song-writing that Delain have ever done, so when the sweeping orchestrals re-enter, and the song kicks into a fantastic guitar solo, it’s clear that this is a true symphonic metal epic. It’s very cinematic sounding, really conjuring up images of dark nightmarish spectres, showing how well the music has matched the theme of Charlotte’s nightmares, paradoxical to her beautiful vocals. The vocals on this song, and throughout the album are superb, Charlotte is one of my favourite singers in the symphonic metal scene, she has a voice which is all at once really powerful and stunningly beautiful and unique, she sings each line with a real passion and sincerity. Throughout the whole of The Human Contradiction she manages to surpass the fantastic performances of previous albums, especially with her powerful vocals on second track Your Body is a Battleground, a track seeing Nightwish vocalist Marco Hietala reprise his role as guest vocalist from Delain’s first two albums. This track is another epic, with both singers at their best, giving a really powerful performance. It’s an incredibly catchy song, with brilliant vocal lines, excellent heavy riffs, while again the sweeping keyboard melodies just give the song a much more grandiose air than found on previous albums, again producing a cinematic sound.
The next two tracks Stardust and My Masquerade are more in the typical Delain style, insanely catchy and anthemic, with really pounding guitar riffs and drums creating heavy catchy music. The choruses are fantastically catchy, with riffs to nod your head along to, and when you factor in the melodious keyboards and Delain’s typical epic guitar solos, it’s clear that these are two tracks which are going to go down well in the bands excellent live show. My Masquerade has some of Charlotte’s best vocals, switching between beautifully soft and immensely powerful with ease.
Tell me, Mechanist contrasts lush sounding keyboards and Charlotte’s beautiful singing with heavy riffs and the incredible growls of guest vocalist George Oosthoek, who puts in a great performance here, while Sing To Me is the other song on the album to feature Marco, another epic sounding track with a catchy chorus and sweeping keyboards. The duet here is excellent, with Charlotte and Marco taking it in turn to sing the chorus, adding to the epic vibe, they have a real chemistry together, which is why I imagine he has appeared on three of the albums. Adding to this the best symphonic sections ever featured on a Delain song, it’s one to send shivers down the spine. These two tracks have some excellent lyrics, focused on social issues and the ‘us versus the others’ mentality in the way a lot of people think.
Army of Dolls has some more really interesting song writing. Starting off as another typical catchy Delain track, the song breaks down into a slower strange section in the middle, with some electronic drumbeats, creepy keyboards and a groovy bassline, which combined with pounding riffs creates an unsettling atmosphere, before the song breas out into a fantastic guitar solo, and even with this experimentation, they’ve managed to write another song with a really catchy chorus. The final track The Tragedy of the Commons features guest vocals from Alissa White-Gluz, the new vocalist of Arch Enemy, contributing inhuman, demonic screams to a track laced with expressive melodic lead guitar and beautiful choirs, a great way to end the album.
The Human Contradiction is an absolutely incredible effort from the Dutch band. Taking all the elements that make Delain so good, from the excellent songwriting to the beautiful vocals, they’ve improved on every aspect of their sound, and have produced an album which just sounds incredibly complete, it’s their heaviest album by far, and they have a more expressive, huge sound than ever before. There’s no filler track here each one is excellent as a stand out track. The songwriting here is simply staggering and the album succeeds all expectations. With the release of The Human Contradiction, there’s not a single doubt that Delain are about to take the world by storm and become HUGE. It’s the best symphonic metal album of the year so far, and I can’t see anything surpassing this for a long time to come.
The Human Contradiction is released on April 4th on Napalm Records.
1. Here Come The Vultures
2. Your Body Is A Battleground
4. My Masquerade
5. Tell Me, Mechanist
6. Sing To Me
7. Army Of Dolls
9. The Tragedy Of The Commons
UK tour dates supporting Within Temptation:
|April 11||Manchester (UK)||O2 Apollo||TICKETS|
|April 12||London (UK)||Wembley Arena||TICKETS|
|April 14||Newcastle (UK)||O2 Academy||TICKETS|
|April 15||Glasgow (UK)||O2 Academy||TICKETS|
|April 16||Birmingham (UK)||O2 Academy||TICKETS|
Listen to Your Body is a Battleground, the first single from TheHuman Contradiction below: