Delain - Moonbathers
Later this month, Delain will drop their 5th full length studio album when they release Moonbathers on August 26th on Napalm Records. After a few listens, it's abundantly clear that this album is Delain's most ambitious effort to date, with a sound that has been enriched to provide one of the most immersive listening experiences so far. The guitars are more prominent than ever and the vocal performance from Charlotte Wessels is top notch. Throughout Moonbathers, Delain shows us a band that has completely identified and differentiated their signature sound from their peer group.
Lyrically, Charlotte and company have become decidedly more confident in finding new and creative ways to tackle subjects. While this band has always be very intentional with their lyrics, I find this album to be as thoughtful as ever, but also the most accessible and relatable to both the artistic as well as the casual listener. This is the first full length album to feature newest members Ruben Israel on drums and Merel Bechtold coming in as their second guitarist to offset their existing ripper, Timo Somers. While Ruben was official added to the lineup in mid-2014, he has been their touring drummer in North America since 2013. Additionally, Merel Bechtold may have only just been added to the official lineup in late 2015, she's been playing on and off with the band in Europe for over a year prior.
In anticipation for the release, we decided to a deep-dive and go through this album track by track.
1. "Hands Of Gold" - In a bold move, the one song on the album to feature a guest vocalist (Arch Enemy's Alissa White-Gluz) was chosen as the lead off track. Fitting however, as listeners are treated to a great showcasing of the versatility featured on this album. The exceptional keyboard work of founding member Martijn Westerholt is on full display here.
2. "The Glory and the Scum" - Here, we get a powerful rocker built around some profound, if not easily agreeable social commentary. The theme here is around how we are fixated on both wonderful and terrible things. The catchiest line of the song "If it bleeds it leads is all we seem to hear today" really says it all. As the song progresses, the blame seemingly shifts inward from the media to ourselves, the consumers of it all.
"The Glory And The Scum" - Lyric video
3. "Suckperpunch" - this was the lead single off of the Lunar Prelude EP released earlier this year. It provides every bit the driving energy you'd expect with a song so aptly titled. On this track, and the subsequent video below, the band demonstrates a new level of confidence in their ability to drive home yet another anthem that will inevitably connect with anyone.
"Suckerpunch" - Music Video
4. "The Hurricane" - With this track, Delain explores relationship struggles from an interesting point of view. Love seems to be the recurring theme with much of this album, as relationships are tested. With this story, I would interpret a couple who have both taken their turn hurting one another, but desperately trying to rely on each other's strength to forge ahead.
5. "Chrysalis - The Last Breath" - One of the most unique songs on the album. For this one in particular, I'm eager to hear Charlotte's story behind this song. It's the most subdued song on the album, with lyrics that could have multiple meanings. With lines such as "I know exactly what you need, You’re nothing without me." This song could be interpreted as an inner-monologue along the lines of Metallica's "Sad But True," but could just as well be about an abusive relationship. It's a beautiful song, and in this case especially, this reviewer is still quite eager to learn more.
6. "Fire With Fire" - A likely candidate for the next single. This is an empowering song about taking the high road. A standout line "Just kill them with kindness ‘cause you will always be much too strong for someone else." This song is a rallying cry for fans to stand up and be themselves, a topic near and dear to Delain (see "We Are The Others"). Additionally, it features one of the most prominent backing vocals to date. I'm hedging my bets this is a staple of their live set going forward.
7. "Pendulum" - This one comes with a strong backing chorus (presumably from bassist Otto Schimmelpenninck van der Oije.) "Pendulum" delves into a relationship that seemingly has an end in sight, but desperately wants to enjoy the here and now. This is a story not often well conveyed in song, yet the thoughts and images that surface while experiencing this prove it's quite an apt effort.
8. "Danse Macabre" - Here, we see a song about living life on ones own terms. Not so much in a relationship, but life in general. Charlotte's lyrics dive further into darkness, as she contemplates death as inevitable, but declares "I said I’d walk the mile, Not that I’d walk in line."
9. "Scandal" - With this song, we are treated to an exceptional cover of a Queen track from 1989. The original version was moderately successful in Europe, but failed to chart in the US. With Delain's modern take, it seems this song may very well take on a second life. It's a guilty pleasure to listen to this version, with Charlotte on vocals, this song feels like it could fit right into a scene from Rock of Ages.
10. "Turn the Lights Out" - Before a Pittsburgh show earlier this year, lead singer Charlotte Wessels discussed her strong interest in the Sandman graphic novel series by Neil Gaiman, especially the character Death. This song is a thoughtful homage that in true Delain fashion treads an impressive balance between beauty and aggression.
11. "The Monarch" - This album closer is an epic song packed into just under four minutes. While mostly instrumental, it showcases a very simple, but thought provoking message about change and personal growth. I only wish this track was a few minutes longer, as it features some of the most beautify orchestral pieces on the entire album.
As the album closes, we're left with an array of stories conveyed incredibly well through images and words that make you want to dive right back in and start all over again. Moonbathes will be released in both a standard version consisting of the eleven tracks reviewed here, as well as a deluxe edition that will also include six additional live and orchestral tracks.
Delain is: Front - Charlotte Wessels (vocals), Merel Bechtold (guitar), Ruben Israel (drums) Back - Martijn Westerholt (keyboards), Timo Somers (guitar) and Otto Schimmelpenninck van der Oije (bass).
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