Delain have come a long way since their debut record Lucidity back in 2006. Beginning as a musical project that featured many guest musicians and vocalists, it was clear that they had something special and they soon became a full-time band. 2008’s April Rain was their breakthrough, seeing the band tour Europe’s biggest festivals and become a staple of the symphonic metal scene. In 2012 they released the highly popular We Are The Others, with a lead single dedicated to Sophie Lancaster (a teenager murdered for her gothic appearance) and acceptance of other people’s differences. A turbulent past with their former record company then led to the band gaining a new start with Napalm Records, with whom they released compilation album Interlude.
- Martijn Westerholt - Keyboards
- Charlotte Wessels - Vocals
- Sander Zoer - Drums
- Otto Schimmelpenninck van der Oije - Bass
- Timo Somers - Guitars
- Alissa White-Gluz - Vocals (clean, screams) (The Tragedy of the Commons)
- Marco Hietala - Vocals (Your Body Is a Battleground, Sing to Me)
- George Oosthoek - Grunts (Tell Me, Mechanist)
- Here Come the Vultures
- Your Body Is a Battleground
- My Masquerade
- Tell Me, Mechanist
- Sing to Me
- Army of Dolls
- The Tragedy of the Commons
But now the time has come for The Human Contradiction. You get the feeling this is the album that Delain have always wanted to make – uncompromising in style and execution. This is something heavier, darker and more symphonic without losing the more commercial rock aspects that make their songs catchy. It is a noticeably more mature album that deals with heavy themes – body image and society, disillusionment with fame and the music industry, and even (as the title alludes to) the nature of humanity. The lyrics feel personal and heartfelt throughout.
The first track Here Come The Vultures sets the tone; a lighter, sing-along opening is crashed by heavy riffs before Charlotte Wessel’s melodic vocals come back, with haunting lyrics about the ‘vultures’ hungry for a brush with fame. Following that is lead single Your Body Is A Battleground, featuring the welcome return of Nightwish’s Marco Hietala – an anthemic rant against pharmaceutical companies that questions who is really in charge of our bodies. Stardust feels a little like a sci-fi show theme tune (that’s a good thing in my opinion) and shows that the band are experimenting with their sound. There are some industrial and electronic influences coming through on many of the songs.
Then there’s My Masquerade, a song written for the band’s special tour-closing show of the same name. It does seem a little different to the rest of the album – perhaps because it was written at an earlier time – but is a welcome slice of positivity, continuing the ‘we’re all freaks together’ theme from We Are The Others. Following that is Tell Me Mechanist, notable for bringing back harsh vocals to the band from George Oosthoek (formerly of Orphanage, known for appearing on Lucidity and guest appearances with Within Temptation), while Sing To Me is a soul-bearing track that features Marco Hietala once again.
Army of Dolls confronts society’s ideas of beauty and has a fabulous electronic interlude with a strong vocal hook and a great breakdown. Lullaby is not a ballad as it would seem (there aren’t really any on the album) but instead a more classic Delain track. And finally there’s the epic and sad The Tragedy of the Commons, a wonderful album closer with the great addition of a choir and more harsh vocals, this time from newly-appointed Arch Enemy lead Alissa White-Gluz. It all ties together beautifully.
If there’s room for improvement (and of course there always is), it would probably be for some changes in pace. It would be nice to hear some slow ballads or fast, upbeat songs mixed in.
The Human Contradiction may be dark, but it seems to have cleared the air for Delain after their record label troubles. The band are now able to do things their way, and it has definitely paid off. This album will surely re-instate Delain’s place as one of the leading symphonic metal bands, and it can only be onwards and upwards from here.
Highlights: The Tragedy Of The Commons, Your Body Is A Battleground, Here Come The Vultures, Army Of Dolls
Author: Sophie Cleverly-EdwardsRead the full story