2014 is already a great year for symphonic metal. Top tier bands in the genre are not only surpassing some of their best established works but really in an organic fashion while not losing sight of what already makes them great. Within Temptation’s Hydra is fucking fantastic (especially the Howard Jones guest vocal hyper-duet “Dangerous”).Pending effort Argia from Diabulus In Musica is thrilling. The mid paced melodically soaring song
“Eternal Breeze” is a dramatic, pop tinged victory for the Pamplona 5 piece, as is the hard charged forthcoming whirlwind “Mechanical Ethos”. Guess something is in the air. The first song I heard off of Dutch alternative/gothic/sympho-metal rockers Delain‘s latest The Human Contradiction was called “Tell Me, Mechanist”. Ok, so that is a pretty nerdy mouthful, but if you are 5 tracks deep into Delain’s latest album, chances are you don’t mind metal that is pretentious in the best way.
Charlotte Wessels isn’t the most over the top front woman and Timo Somers surely isnt the flashiest guitarist, but both are self-aware enough to build on their strengths and chart a solid course for the group. The only reason I am not giving it a higher rating is that these songs beg for some really innovative guitar solos to really push them over the top. After Stratovarius made my top 5 albums of 2013 with Nemesis, I am spoiled on that shit.
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“Here Come The Vultures” is a colorful and cerebral, ear candy filled opener that is part sweeping epic, part quirky near pop-lullabye and part straight up fist pumping hard rocker. Martijn Westerholt’s keyboard work is impressive throughout the record, adding layers of highlights to the songs with an apparent ease that many bands would kill for. This record comes relatively hot on the heels of their covers and live album Interlude which included some refreshingly unex[ected covers from artists like Talk Talk and Bronski Beat as well as typically cool Delain album art. But being busy hasn’t diluted the band’s punch, as Human Contradiction is full of powerful songs from the storytelling power of “Sing To Me” to the confident march of “Your Body Is a Battleground” (not a wonderland? oh well). All in all, this record shows a lot of cool range yet focus for Delain, with “Army of Dolls” even coming off like a metallized Eurythmics, but not in the Marilyn Manson-vein. There are memorable choruses and big hooks all over this shit and lyrics that will worm into your brain with ease. Through it all the band manage to retain a certain “tough” appeal, even when strings are dripping flourishes of emotion all over the tracks. By the time “The Tragedy of the Commons” leads us to the albums finale like some combination of Guns N Roses “Prostitute” meets a more operatic Lacuna Coil, you will be pretty far gone on a flight of delicious fantasy.