Delain has one of the more interesting band origins. When keyboardist Martijn Westerholt left Within Temptation due to health reasons, he continued writing music, and when he was healthy again, formed Delain, which was supposed to be a musical project with a rotating line-up, but the success of their initial album Lucidity caused Westerholt to rethink his plans, and the band stayed together This brings us to 2016, and their fifth album, Moonbathers.
If you were looking for any surprises on Moonbathers, then you’re likely going to be disappointed. Delain are firmly in their comfort zone on Moonbathers. While there are some strong tracks, Delain stick close to the formula they are used to — hooks galore and the vocal talents of Charlotte Wessels.
Opener Hands of Gold is a building, bombastic (for Delain, anyway), and catchy song with heavy orchestral elements and gives Charlotte a chance to showcase her range. Alissa White-Gluz (Arch Enemy, ex-The Agonist) even shows up to provide some death growls leading into the final part of the song. Follow-up track, The Glory and the Scum is a hook-laden number and Charlotte’s crooning makes it another album highlight.
I’d already heard Suckerpunch and Turn the Lights Out on the Lunar Prelude EP, and while they’re decent enough, they stick to the basic Delain formula. Fire With Fire is another strong track which should be a favorite at live shows.
The rest of the album, however, ranges between the sappy and the uninspired. Granted, the ballads give Charlotte plenty of opportunities to showcase her voice, and if this is your first encounter with Delain, they likely serve their purpose. Otherwise, they feel like fillers just to pad the album’s runtime. While they’re not bad, they’re also unremarkable.
Honestly, the only stinker on the album is Danse Macabre, which is all over the place musically and exhibits a near-disconnect between the vocals and instrumentation. I’ve listened to this track several times, and it just doesn’t work on a lot of levels.
As a bit of a side tangent, I had the opportunity to see Delain live back in 2015 when they were touring with Sabaton and Nightwish. Delain sounded great live, and my only complaint is that when Marco Hietala (Nightwish) joined them on stage, he and Charlotte performed Sing To Me (from The Human Contradiction) instead of The Gathering (from Lucidity), which is still one of my favorite songs of theirs.
If you were already a Delain fan, you’re probably going to like Moonbathers well enough. It’s not their best work by far, but it’s solid. I do, however, wish Delain would take a few more chances with their music, because they are treading close to Lacuna Coil levels of stagnation. With the sheer talent this band possesses, that would be a waste.