Friday, August 26, 2016

Delain-Moonbathers

This year marks ten years since Delain formed, and with a number of albums and tours under their belts, the growth has been noticeable. From being just a studio project of Martijn Westerholt, who had been forced out of Within Temptation due to health issues at the time, to becoming one of the bigger names to come out of the Netherlands, they've accomplished much in a relatively short amount of time. This year, on the heels of opening for Sonata Arctica and Nightwish, their latest album is ready to go in Moonbathers.

Moonbathers opens with "Hands of Gold," which is a fairly good opener, but even with the appearance on Alissa White-Gluz as guest vocalist, one gets the feeling the album will be closer to the level of We Are the Others, one of their lesser efforts. While "The Glory and the Scum" and "Suckerpunch" offer some push to the band's sound, the album gets dragged down by two ballads in a row in "The Hurricane" and Chrysalis - The Last Breath." Thankfully, "Fire with Fire" comes in and puts things back in order with Delain's hardest effort yet. Things do get better with "Pendulum," which proves to be just as guitar driven as the previous song. The ritual chant-like opening to "Danse Macabre" gives way to perhaps vocalist Charlotte Wessels' most complete performance yet, as the range finally shows itself. Further pushing their limits, it's the guitar's turn to do so, as heard on "Scandal," and in many ways, having the full-time second guitarist allows for a little more freedom. Of course, it also gets pushed by Wessels' vocals on the song to step up their game along with the rest of the music. A slower song follows in "Turn the Lights Out," which allows for the listener to catch their breath a little while the closer "The Monarch" is mostly an instrumental that puts nice bow on the proceedings. Musically, the talent has always been there, but the songwriting sometimes left the listener wanting more. While it takes time to get into Moonbathers, the rewards are worth it.

In an often crowded female fronted metal scene, especially in their home country of the Netherlands, Delain has managed to not only stand out, but also become of the premiere bands to emerge from that country. Moonbathers is an appropriate name for their latest album, as it goes through phases, from pretty good to slow and uneventful to fast and powerful to calm and sleepy. Yes, the album is a mixed bag, but the good tends to outweigh the bad here, and is at least worth a few listens.

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