Album Review: Delain – The Human Contradiction (2014)

24 Apr

Delain_HC_Cover_

9/10

Delain’s debut album “Lucidity”, released in 2006 was, in some ways, a perfect Gothic Metal album filled with atmosphere, fantastic song-writing, and excellent vocals from lead singer Charlotte Wessels and the various guest vocalists scattered throughout. They followed this up with “April Rain” (2009), an absolutely stunning album, catchy and poppy while remaining heavy. 2012′s “We Are The Others” was another good album, but offered more filler than previous efforts. Now comes their latest release “The Human Contradiction”, and it’s easy to wonder whether they would continue to deteriorate or return to the lofty standards they had previously set. Thankfully it’s the latter, as the album is absolutely fantastic.

The albums opener “Here Comes The Vultures” is an absorbing cut, with an ingenious melody, heavy guitar riffs, and a sort of horror movie-esque atmosphere courtesy of creepy keyboard melodies; making for a shivering combination. I’ve heard the lyrics are based off Charlotte’s nightmares and the song does indeed conjure up nightmarish imagery. It’s very cinematic with sweeping orchestrals and a fantastic guitar solo. An absolute true Symphonic Metal epic.

The second song “Your Body Is A Battlefield” is very aggressive and when I heard it I thought to myself “This guy sounds like the dude from Nightwish”  and as it turns out the song does indeed feature an appearance by Marco Hietala (Nightwish, Tarot). No stranger to working with Delain, Hietala has also appeared on their previous albums. This track is another epic, with both singers at their best, giving really powerful performances. It’s an incredibly catchy song, with brilliant vocal lines, excellent heavy riffs, while again the sweeping keyboard melodies just give the song a much more grandiose air than found on previous albums.

“Stardust” and “My Masquerade” are both extremely catchy and anthemic with pounding drums and guitars, creating songs that should go down well in their excellent live shows.  “Tell Me, Mechanist” contrasts lush sounding keyboards and Charlotte’s beautiful vocals with more heavy guitar riffs and the excellent growls of guest vocalist George Oosthoek (Orphanage, Celestial Season). The song represents the heavier side of “The Human Contradiction” but is still tender, and that is what makes it one of the best songs of the album.

 On “Sing To Me” we get another vocal from Marco where he and Charlotte take turns singing the chorus which adds to the epic vibe of the track. The duet is truly excellent and I think they have a real chemistry together. Adding to this is perhaps the best symphonic sections ever featured on a Delain song. Certainly one to send shivers down the spine. “Army Of Dolls” starts off as another typical catchy Delain track before it breaks down into a slower section in the middle, featuring electronic drumbeats, creepy keyboards and a groovy bassline, which creates an unsettling atmosphere, before the song breaks out into an awesome guitar solo. The album closes with “The Tragedy Of The Commons” featuring guest vocals from Alissa White-Gluz, the new vocalist of Arch Enemy, contributing demonic screams to a track laced with expressive, melodic lead guitar and beautiful choirs. It’s interesting to listen to Alissa’s deep growls married up against the bright, beautiful vocals of Charlotte. This hybrid provides a nice contrast and a great way to conclude the album.

 “The Human Contradiction” is an absolutely incredible effort. Delain have taken the elements that made them good and improved on every aspect of their sound to produce an album which, from start to finish, sounds complete. For me, there is no filler with every song standing out on its own. As I said earlier, there was a worry that they would continue where “We Are The Others” left off and strip down their sound and concentrate on pop anthems with that metal edge but, band leader, Martijn Westerholt has stepped up his game and offered a more symphonically driven sound than ever before. The band sound inspired and thus have released their heaviest and, in my opinion, their best album to date.

With “The Human Contradiction” Delain should be able to satisfy old fans whilst picking up some new ones along the way and stand out in a genre that already has a lot of female fronted bands. If you like heavy music, symphonic music and have an ear for melody, then you will find something on this record to enjoy. If you’re a fan of Nightwish, Within Temptation, Epica and Lacuna Coil then you will definitely enjoy “The Human Contradiction”

David

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