Delain “Moonbathers” 2016 Review

Delain Moonbathers

Delain have been in the music scene for a decade now; Bringing us dark and catchy Symphonic Metal with beautiful Melodic tones.  It is no secret that I am a huge fan of this band and thoroughly enjoy their entire catalogue as well as their fantastic live shows.  I could go on and on about the Symphonic prowess of this band, but the purpose of this review is to focus on the new album “Moonbathers” and its diverse offering of tracks.  Delain is one of those bands who aren’t afraid to build bridges across genres.  They have excellent Gothic Rock tracks, grand Symphonic movements, catchy Pop Rock tracks with excellent hooks, and anthemic Rock beyond your 80’s Arena Rock.  For me, it is impossible to categorize this band in a single genre, because it demeans their ability to successfully play just about any style with any number of instruments.  Every song on every album has eccentricities and vibes much different from each other.  “Moonbathers” is a prime example of their voluminous talent.  

 

After nearly fifty listens on this record, I think this is absolutely the best record thus far of Delain’s existence.  It commands to differ from past Delain albums, but also has its foot firmly planted in Delain’s original sound.  You get reminders from all the past records, but also completely new aspects.  The most noticeable new aspect for me is the different take on the vocals.  I feel like this record utilizes more of lead vocalist Charlotte Wessels’ vocal range, especially on the high end.  The lower range of her voice seems to be absent on this new record, but not in a bad way.  While her lower range is what makes her different and unique, I think this record is the best vocal performance of her career because it is so different.  I feel like the vocals are more natural and organic than on “The Human Contradiction”.  The music overall is more organic and feels truer to each member on this record.  Every part, every track, every new aspect is extremely well executed and feels like this band as a whole put everything they had into it.  It is raw, it is beautiful, it is soft, it is dark, it is passionate, and it is tastefully heavy.  It is also very different than past Delain records in its ability to appeal to a wider audience.  This band is clearly trying to grow, and Moonbathers undoubtedly succeeds.

 

There are so many layers to this record and each track, in both overtones and undertones.  You hear bombastic layers in the orchestral parts and guitar parts, as well as powerful melodic vocals that really emphasize the Symphonic aspect.  Then, there’s the undertones of the album that ebb and flow softly and make it extremely unique.  You’re not going to get every detail in just one listen, yet it will hook you from the intro of Hands of Gold.  The quality of this record is outstanding.  “Moonbathers” to me has a bigger and louder identity than “The Human Contradiction”.  I can easily pinpoint all the strengths and differences in each track, making each song unique to the rest.   Glory and the Scum is heavy and dark, with a hauntingly beautiful melody.  It’s also a song that features Charlotte’s grunts, a new and exclusive feature to Delain’s sound.  This album makes me wonder, “Is there anything she can’t do?”.  Suckerpunch, Scandal, Fire With Fire are the most energetic tracks on the record, bringing back that high energy from past Delain records.  Scandal is a bold choice from Westerholt, but it pays off ten fold in impressing new and old fans.  It is easily one of the best covers I have ever heard.  It keeps true to the original but improves on it and makes it more energetic and definitely heavier.  One of my favorite parts of Scandal and all the other heavy tracks is definitely the guitar work.  

 

Timo Somers has a unique sound that is unmistakable in his heavy hooks and his melodic soloing.  I feel like his guitar work stands out more on this record than past records, and that is definitely a good thing.  The use of seven strings by Somers, and new addition Merel Bechtold, is surprising and unexpected.  The dichotomy of using seven string heavy rhythmic riffs over beautiful melodies couldn’t be more idyllic Symphonic Metal.  The guitars are aggressive and offset the Pop influences expertly.  The electric guitars are truly fantastic, but the bass guitar seems to be utterly absent from this album.  Bassist Otto has made his mark on the past two Delain records and has been one hell of a driving bottom end.  He seems to be unheard on Moonbathers, which is disappointing and takes something unique out of the Delain equation.  I would’ve loved to hear more breakdowns with only vocals and bass in a lot of these tracks.  That aspect is what makes songs like Get the Devil Out of Me so appealing and unique.  I would’ve liked to hear fifty percent more bass guitar on this record.  Putting Otto in the background is one of Moonbathers’ biggest flaws, in my opinion.

 

Martijn Westerholt described Moonbathers as having extremes; Fast, heavy, aggressive, and loud, then soft, melodic, and subtle.  The softer songs on the record are not what you expect from Delain.  To me, these are some of the best songs they have put out yet.  I love ballads and think they are a great testament to a band’s diversity.  If the whole album was all fast, bombastic, Symphonic tracks, it would become mundane and monotone.  These soft tracks are what set Moonbathers apart from most recent Metal records.  The Hurricane, my personal favorite, is a ballad with expertly crafted drums and guitar and brilliant vocal lines that quickly become entrancing.  Chrysalis: The Last Breath is one of those defining moments in this record, and Delain’s career in general.  This song is also a ballad, but it’s dark and heartbreaking.  This track is simplistic, only containing strings, piano, and vocals.  It is a work you expect to be on epic film soundtrack.  Every song on the album blows me away, but this song is a whole other level of Delain’s talent.  Then there’s Danse Macabre, which I consider one of the slow songs.  This song is gorgeous.  The melodies on this record are so perfectly executed and addictive; Danse Macabre is a great example of a well done melody.  Although a repetitive and a flat song compared to the others, it is still a good track to have on in the car.  

 

Overall, Moonbathers is an absolutely fantastic record.  Is it as good as everyone expected?  Maybe not, but it is still Delain’s best effort so far to make an impact on the music industry.  They’re still growing, and growing exponentially in fan base and as musicians.  No doubt this record will attribute to the longevity of this band (I hope that’s not a jinx.)  There are strengths and really highpoints in this record, and some disappointment.  Is it musically perfect?  No, hardly any records are musically perfect, but Moonbathers is a great attempt and it is perfect in that it accomplishes everything it is made to do.  This record is exploding.  Just two years ago the support for Delain was lackluster and they deserved a lot more credit.  Moonbathers is finally bringing hype and popularity to the band.  As long as they keep going strong and keep true to their identity, Moonbathers is only the beginning.

 

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