REVIEW: DELAIN – “Moonbathers”
There is a certain kind of inexplicable joy that familiarity comforts us with. Sometimes this is sprinkled with some small-yet-wonderful new elements that better the experience of something familiar. That is exactly how ‘Moonbathers’ by Delain feels. Refreshed and rearmed, Delain are back and this record is all the reason to be excited.
‘There is only so much that one can really expect out of symphonic and orchestral metal bands’. It is safe to disagree here! The album is rich and epic. Much like the previous offerings of the band, the music on this one follows the footsteps of the past but with some new tricks up its sleeve. I have always had a soft corner for a band that would love to weave ‘heavy metal’ parts with ‘symphonic’ or ‘orchestral’ parts. For the most, such experiments sound fine at first (well, probably just a few bars of a song) and they turn out to be rather distasteful. This is not the case with the talented folk of Delain. The heavier parts of the songs give space to the other non-metal orchestrations and this seems to work really well. In some sense, the heavy parts support the lighter and mellow symphonic arrangements. In turn, this creates a solid platform for the singing to be beautifully articulated and expressed. Songs like “Hands of Gold”, “Pendulum”, and “Scandal” work just like that. One might want to generalise the entire album like this, but let’s get down to the finer elements.
The riff work isn’t ridiculously heavy or pacey, it’s just enough to get you going. It seems to be a pretty fine balance of traditional, heavy riffs with contemporary tastes. Simply speaking, the album isn’t heavy for the sake of it or because it is a prerequisite for metal. Maybe it is just me or it could be you, but the riff work feels really organic and it sounds ‘metal’, but isn’t so for the sake of it. This make the music so much more delightful. In turn, the symphonic orchestrations complement the entire rhythm section and give it a completely different feel. On songs such as “Turn the Lights Out”, “Sucker Punch”, “The Hurricane” and “The Last Breath”, if the instrumentation hasn’t got you head over heels, the divine voice of Charlotte Wessels will. Her work with the band has, for long, impressed many and her voice on ‘Moonbathers’ is a new high. The next greatest thing to complement everything that the instrumental sections have done are the lyrics. Great singing coupled with some wonderful lyrics make for a fine album.
‘Moonbathers’ is everything that a symphonic metal album can hope to be- a beautiful balance. From the singing to the neck-breaking drums, the killer riffs and deep bass sections and fluid symphonic parts, the sublime singing and good lyrics, the album is a great package, armed to the teeth. The music feels honest and personal without a shred of pretense or a pointless struggle. The lyrics are warm and comforting. This works particularly well with the sounds on this record –something empowering to go along with the grand and epic music. The production is not overdone nor does the record sound terribly polished. Production-wise, there is really no reason why anyone could be unhappy. The music that Delain strives to make works beautifully with this approach to production. On the down side, the music does turn out to get a little repetitive at times. That isn’t entirely bad but it might have been cool to have a bigger palette of variations already added to the wonderful things the band has to offer.
The line-up for ‘Moonbathers’ comprises of Charlotte Wessels (vocals), Martijin Westerholt (keyboards), Otto Oije (bass), Timo Somers (guitar), Ruben Israel (drums) and Merel Bechtold (guitar).