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Delain - Apocalypse & Chill

Apocalypse & Chill
by Kira Schlechter at 21 January 2020, 6:10 AM

Working with what you have as a band often means making necessary allowances for exactly that – what you have. Such is the case with DELAIN. The wry and oh-so-2010s-titled “Apocalypse & Chill” is the follow-up to 2016’s “Moonbathers” and the sixth album by the Dutch symphonic metal band since they formed in 2002. And it’s a somewhat uneven affair, partly because those allowances aren’t always made. The first three tracks, “One Second,” “We Had Everything,” and “Chemical Redemption,” blend the thunder of Timo, Martijn, Otto, Joey, and layers of orchestration with the ephemerality of Charlotte’s soprano voice. It’s sweet and gentle and she kind of murmurs at times, which isn’t a criticism – it just seems to be her natural way of singing. Her voice gives the band’s songs a distinct lightness that the music almost tries to mask.

Since she is all light and treble without any real bottom, she sometimes gets downright drowned by the arrangements. She needs to be given room in the mix since her voice is by nature soft and airy. But by “Burning Bridges,” Charlotte lets go a little and shows off her range. And Yannis Papadopoulos of BEAST IN BLACK guests on “Vengeance,” a story of a relationship at the breaking point, giving it the weight it needs. The second half of the album is mostly a marked improvement, more solid, the pieces coming more cohesively together. “To Live Is To Die,” with its very techno AMARANTHE-like beginning, is a basic sentiment but it makes a good point – how will you live your life, considering that as we live, we also are dying, so what will you do while you’re here? It’s dreamy and drifting and the ending is especially pointed when she drags out the line “there’s no…time.”

“Let’s Dance” is driving and insistent and a pretty clear commentary on climate change done with considerable wit (“All the holes here in the sand/All these holes the size of heads” – get it?) and astute observation (“It’s a beautiful day/Mountains crumbling down/It’s a beautiful day/Skies are turning red,” like how we avoid what’s going on right before our eyes). “Creatures” too bears some striking lyrical imagery, although it’s not exactly clear what the reference is, and Charlotte’s voice is more upfront on its powerful chorus and bridge. She takes the opposite approach on the hushed and delicate “Ghost House Heart,” made even more haunting by very light orchestration featuring violin and other strings. She sings with conviction and sadness, and her voice interplays nicely with itself in the last choruses.

“Masters of Destiny” thoughtfully ponders another foible of human nature: we curse the heavens or faith when they let us down (“I curse the morning star and/I curse the moonlit sky”) and we are forced to realize that we alone are in charge of what happens to ourselves (“And to my misery/Each single line up in the sky/Pointed back to me”). And on “Legions of the Lost,” we really get to the political bent of the title. Stately and ponderous and orchestral, insistent and angry and perfectly clear, DELAIN rails against “communication overkill” and “misinformation overkill,” urges us to “Stop/Idolisation of the rich/Money commanding politics,” and bemoans that there are “Too many dogs, too little bones/Too little pearls, too many swine.”

The album ends with the instrumental “Combustion,” proving that a bit of editing and restraint wouldn’t hurt DELAIN, even at this point in their career. They display their considerable instrumental prowess throughout – they don’t need to do it here..

Songwriting: 7
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 7
Production: 8
Overall: 8

4 Star Rating

1. One Second
2. We Had Everything
3. Chemical Redemption
4. Burning Bridges
5. Vengeance
6. To Live Is To Die
7. Let’s Dance
8. Creatures
9. Ghost House Heart
10. Masters of Destiny
11. Legions of the Lost
12. The Greatest Escape
13. Combustion
Charlotte Wessels - Vocals
Timo Summers - Guitar
Martijn Westerholt - Keyboards
Otto Schimmelpenninck van der Oije - Bass
Joey de Boer - Drums
Record Label: Napalm Records


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