Because of keyboard player Martijn Westerholt’s background with Within Temptation, it’s inevitable that Delain will be included with the symphonic metal bands that have emerged over the last decade, and to be frank, there wasn’t a lot on their first two albums to contradict this. However, when the band debuted new material on their short tour in 2011, it seemed they were making a conscious effort to move away from the template in a more commercial yet heavier direction, and now their third album has emerged, it’s clear that the band have not only grown away from the previous pigeonholing, but that they’ve grown and matured as a band as a whole and judging by the excellence of this album, they’re more than ready to break into the big league.
How much this fresh approach is down to the band collaborating with outside writers and producers is a matter for debate, but there’s no doubt that the decision seems to have paid off in a big way. Opening track Mother Machine sets the tone for the whole album, with a great, impressively heavy riff, passionate vocals and a hook big enough to land Jaws. They haven’t completely abandoned the style of the first two albums, as songs like Generation Me and Get The Devil Out Of Me illustrate, but the band are clearly genuinely progressing, whether it’s the electro-industrial tinge of Get the Devil Out Of Me or the grandiose, Royal Hunt-like touches in Electricity. Best of all is We Are The Others, a song inspired by the Sophie Lancaster tragedy and dedicated to the Foundation set up in her name. A storming track, possibly their finest moment to date and already a live highlight.
Another sign of their fresh approach is that in the past the band have used several guest vocalists, whereas on ‘We Are The Others’ the only guest is Fear Factory’s Burton C. Bell who adds a very effective and sinister presence on Where Is The Blood. While his vocals provide a sharp contrast to Charlotte Wessels’, it works well in the context of the song and the album. But whatever variations in style they adopt, there’s no doubt that the songwriting here is on a whole new level, and this is helped by a production that makes the songs almost burst out of the speakers and demand that you listen. It’s also interesting that in every case the songs are shorter than you might expect, none of them outstay their welcome, they’re all straight to the point with very few, if any, extended instrumental passages and you’re often surprised by how quickly they end and the band move on to the next song. Each one seems to leave you wanting to hear more, which strikes me as being the mark of a very good album.
As well as the standard CD, there’s a digi-pack edition with four bonus tracks, live versions of tracks from the bands back catalogue, including The Gathering and Control The Storm, both of which feature Nightwish’s Marco Hietala on vocals alongside Charlotte Wessels, as well as Shattered and Sleepwalker’s Dream. Great tracks and good performances, but also serving to highlight just how far the band have progressed in the last couple of years.
As far as the band are concerned, this maybe isn’t the game-changer that Within Temptation’s The Unforgiving was, but nonetheless its energy, focus and the quality of the material and production suggests the band really are ready to move up to the next level. A serious contender for the Best Album of 2012.
Rated 9 out of 10