Album Reviews

Delain – The Human Contradiction Review

thehumancontradition_cover

Released By: Napalm Records

Release Date: April 8, 2014

Genre: Symphonic Metal

Links: http://www.delain.nl/

 

Line Up:

Charlotte Wessels – Vocals

Timo Somers – Guitars

Martijn Westerholt – Keyboards

Otto Schimmelpenninck van der Oije – Bass

Sander Zoer – Drums

 

Tracklist:

1. Here Come The Vultures

2. Your Body Is A Battleground

3. Stardust

4. My Masquerade

5. Tell Me, Mechanist

6. Sing To Me

7. Army Of Dolls

8. Lullaby

9. The Tragedy Of The Commons

 

Out of all the well known Dutch female fronted symphonic metal bands, for some reason Delain has always been the one I’ve had the hardest time getting into. I thought their first two albums were fine, but for some reason they never grabbed me the way Epica and Within Temptation usually do, and so I never really listened to them much. Things started to change a bit with their third album We Are The Others, which I found to be a nice step in the right direction, and now with their fourth full length album The Human Contradiction they have really stepped up their game and delivered an album almost on the level of their fellow Dutch bands.

Out of the two previously mentioned bands, Delain has always reminded me more of Within Temptation, and I guess that makes sense considering that their keyboardist and founding member Martin Westerholt was once a part of that band. I find them similar in that both bands have a more modern approach to symphonic metal, with a focus on keyboards and catchy vocal lines over the actual symphonic elements, but where the former has moved more and more into pop/rock territory over the years, Delain’s sound has become quite a bit heavier on this album. Of course, the songs are obviously still as catchy as ever, but now the guitars have a lot more bite to them, and that immediately makes a huge difference, as shown on the explosive and epic opening track “Here Come The Vultures”. The album opens with the always beautiful voice of Charlotte Wessels singing over some soft keys, before the song suddenly takes a dark turn, with crunchy guitars and some very atmospheric keyboards. Musically it’s by far their best and most adventurous song to date, and Charlottle is certainly up to the task as she seamlessly mixes her light, angelic tone with an ever improved lower register which sounds better than ever, and is used more frequently than normal on this album. She even does some creepy “la la la” vocals at one point, which adds a pretty cool effect.

Starting the album off with such an impressive song is always a risk, but while none of the other individual tracks are quite that good, it’s still an excellent album from start to finish, with no filler. The following track “Your Body Is A Battleground” is much more aggressive and in your face, and Charlotte sounds stronger than ever, while Nightwish co-vocalist Marco Hietala makes a guest appearance on both this track and “Sing To Me”, which shouldn’t be a surprise to longtime fans since he has appeared on every Delain album to date, at least in some form. As always, he does a great job on both tracks and works well with Charlotte.

The rest of the album is mostly more melodic and keyboard driven, as usual. Songs like “Stardust” and “Army Of Dolls” are among my favorites as they do a great job of showing off Charlotte’s wonderful tone, while “Tell Me Mechanist” is probably the heaviest song on the album, and is highlighted by some excellent growls from guest George Oosthoek. While the opening track is certainly the best, I think the closing track “The Tragedy Of The Commons” may be the second best song the band has made. It has a larger scale to it than normal, with a surprisingly effective use of choir vocals, which aren’t very common on a Delain album, but the biggest surprise is the guest appearance from former The Agonist, current Arch Enemy vocalist Alissa White-Gluz, who does both clean and harsh vocals, but her growls in particular help take the song to the next level, along with the aforementioned choir vocals.

From the explosive, adventurous opening track through to the surprisingly epic closing track, The Human Contradiction is easily Delain’s best album to date, with a winning combination of heavy riffs, atmospheric keyboards, excellent vocals, and insanely catchy choruses. Fans of symphonic metal or female fronted metal in general who have never heard the band before are highly recommended to start with this album.

 

Written by Travis

Ratings    Travis    9/10

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