Album Reviews

Delain – The Human Contradiction

Oh what a difference a few years makes. In 2010 the sky was the limit for Delain. They had released their critically acclaimed second album April Rain and followed that up with their U.S. debut, a show stealing performance at ProgPower USA. However, the band was unable to capitalize on their success and due to a dispute with their then record label, Roadrunner Records, and the bands follow up We Are The Others was delayed for close to a year. Thankfully, the album was finally released to the delight of their loyal army of fans and more critical praise. The band soon announced that they had signed a new record deal with European metal label Napalm Records and were handpicked to open for symphonic power metallers Kamelot on their Silverthorn 2013 U.S. tour.

So this brings us to the present day as Delain prepare to release their newest album The Human Contradiction. About the album title and concept, lead vocalist Charlotte Wessels recently stated…

“The title The Human Contradiction is taken from one of my favorite books; Octavia E. Butlers trilogy Lilith’s Brood. A post-apocalypse story, in which the fact that humanity did not last is explained by our two most contradictory qualities; the fact that we are as a species both intelligent and hierarchic. This human contradiction causes an ‘us versus the others’ mentality, which in the book – as well as one could argue, in reality – proves to be a most self-destructive attitude. in a way, “The Human Contradiction” presents a broadening and deepening of the lyrical concept of We Are The Others: ‘otherness’ and how people relate to this, has had my interest for years. Whether it is otherness within our species, so towards people who are perceived as ‘different’ by other people (which was “We Are The Others” main focus) or in our attitudes towards non- human ‘others’, which is the lyrical addition made by our new record.

The album begins with Here Come The Vultures and Charlotte Wessels luscious breathy vocal with an underlying ominous keyboard tinkling of keyboardist/main songwriter Martijn Westerholt, and gives way to a razor sharp guitar riff and heavy down tuned rhythms from lead guitarist Timo Somers. The melody of the chorus is catchy with Wessels’ sultry pop meets heavy rock vocal delivery that sets her apart from her symphonic metal counterparts such as Tarja or Simone Simons. Your Body Is A Battleground is a heavy symphonic rocker with the first of two guest powerful vocal performances from Nightwish/Tarot Marco Hietala. Hietala is no stranger to Delain fans, having appeared on previous Delain albums Lucidity and April Rain. The subject matter seems to deal with a common Delain lyrical theme of being an outsider and another strong chorus from Wessels and Hietala whose voices mesh perfectly. Stardust is an edgy hard rock song with touches of pop and electronica. This song is very reminiscent of the material on Delain’s last studio effort We Are The Others. This is the type of song where Wessels excels at delivering a sexy and passionate performance. The song My Masquerade has a heavy metal meets gothic rock attitude especially during the background vocals of the chorus. The breakdown has Wessels calling on the listener to remove their masks and reveal their inner freak for all the judging eyes to see. Tell Me, Mechanist is heavy on the chugging guitar rhythms and the growling guest vocals from grunter George Oosthoek combine with Wessels melodic voice perfectly.

Hietala returns for another duet on the gorgeously melancholy, heavy and melodic Sing To Me. The chorus will be stuck in your head after one listen. If one had to choose a song from Delain’s catalog to define their trademark sound, this song would definitely fit the bill. From the vocal melodies, the heavy guitar rhythms, the symphonic keys, to the powerful drumming, this one has everything a Delain fan could ask for. Army of Dolls is a driving anthemic hard rocker with the kind of pop meets rock chorus that Delain pulls off so well. The breakdown ramps up the symphonic elements with the heavy guitar. Don’t let the sweet song title Lullaby fool you, this is a song with edge and an aggressive guitar tone. The underlying keyboards add a sense of melody to lighten the song just enough to give the song some depth. Wessels works the microphone with a combination of seduction, grace, and power. The albums final track The Tragedy of The Commons finds Wessels utilizing every technique in her vocal arsenal from a breathy whisper, operatic power, to a rock goddess swagger. Guest harsh vocals from Alissa White-Gluz (former The Agonist/new Arch Enemy vocalist) add a special quality combined with Wessels unique voice. At nine songs and under an hour of music, some fans might feel that the album is too short but I’m a firm believer in quality over quantity. With The Human Contradiction and an upcoming U.S. tour as direct support for Sonata Arctica, Delain has created their finest work yet and cemented their place among the hottest acts in hard rock/metal today.

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