Words by Megan McMillan
This year Dutch symphonic metallers Delain are celebrating their tenth anniversary, and what better way to commemorate than to release a new album? Moonbathers is their fifth studio effort and presents how much the band have matured over the years. While their last masterpiece The Human Contradiction saw them experimenting with more modern synthesizers and popish melodies, this time the group have taken a more traditional approach, resulting in their most symphonic album to date, with the orchestral elements being pushed even more to the forefront than before.
The album starts with the adventurous ‘Hands of Gold’, instantly demanding attention with its dramatic orchestra and infectious melodies. Lead single, ‘The Glory and The Scum’ sounds exactly like it was made for rock radio, fitted with a stadium sized chorus and taking elements from all past Delain albums and throwing them into one track. As does ‘Suckerpunch,’ (first featured on Lunar Prelude EP), which is a melody driven track. The cheerful melody compliments the positive message about getting rid of your demons. ‘Turn The Lights Out,’ was also first released on Lunar Prelude and the theatrical, cinematic feel to it matches the compelling tale of The Sandman Comics by Neil Gaiman that the story is based off.
The light hearted radio rock tracks are placed between more serious songs, all of which that have intelligent lyrics and are fuelled by a symphonic, adventurous sound rather than catchy, popish melodies. ‘Hurricane’s’ lyrics are soulful and emotive, addressing issues of mental health; setting a melancholy tone for the track. ‘Chrysalis-Her Last Breath’ is an eerie ballad comprised mainly of a haunting piano melody alongside gothic and atmospheric ambient sound. The gloomy lyrics are based on a script that the band found, a story that Wessels could relate too and the turbulent times she was going through are really portrayed through the bleak atmosphere.
Amidst the darkness there is light with the colourful and bouncy, ‘Fire with Fire,’ the album’s 2nd single. This track has the makings of a rock anthem what with the cheerful, feisty rhythm and “don’t let anyone walk all over you”, kind of lyrics. It’s a big track with a big meaning and is by far one of the more memorable songs on the album. ‘Pendulum’ and ‘The Monarch’ both deal with deep topics such as immortality and death which are portrayed in beautiful lyrics. The heavy subject of holding onto time and the reality of death matches the heaviness of the song. After a spontaneous cover of the Queen track ‘Scandal,’ the album wraps up with ‘The Monarch’ which is a poetic conclusion to the earlier to the track, Chrysalis, her last breath and the slow, soothing but dark and eerily atmospheric song is a great way to close things.
It takes a few spins before the album grows on you because of the band experimenting with different styles. But even so, it’s very obvious that there’s a lot of talent and creativity amongst Delain and they’ve brought all of their ability to make one of the best metal albums of the year. The song structures here are not as precise and cohesive as they were in previous albums, but they’re still incredibly refined and cohesive tracks.