Review: Delain – Apocalypse & Chill

The new Delain record is here and it’s called Apocalypse & Chill. I have been following Delain since their very first record Lucidity back in 2006 and after various musical changes over the years as well as changes in personnel, the band seems to have found a steady and refreshing course which, in my opinion, started with the full-length predecessor Moonbathers and the EP Hunter’s Moon. Apocalypse & Chill seems the ultimate result of this new and fresh state of the band, not in the last place due to the versatile nature of it. The first track One Second is a perfect example of the evolution of the formula found with Moonbathers. Heavy guitars, tight and deep drums and the good old trusted vocals from singer Charlotte Wessels. Good old and trusted? Well, that’s not entirely true. It is true in the sense that the elements and the sound that make Delain the band that they have been for years are still there, but I have to remark that even compared to Moonbathers everything seems more refined and skillful than it already was and this certainly also can be said about Charlotte’s vocals. Everything sounds really mature and evolved and it’s very commendable that you can still be recognizable while doing a lot of new things!

One new important element you can hear immediately and that, to me, is the expanded role that Timo Somers now seems to have in the band. Besides a lot of guitar shredding and soloing he also is a great singer and his vocals are a marvelous addition to the beautiful vocal aggression that Charlotte brings. Speaking of that, her vocals are all very dynamic and again versatile. She keeps you alert by the many ways she can sing something, whether it be high and heavy or just really small and almost kind, to sometimes nothing more than a whisper and this without losing any vocal control. The very powerful Burning Bridges, for me, is a symbol for where Delain are as band and where they want to go but it’s certainly not the only example. Because apart from the refined professionalism and growth, the record is also a lot heavier without losing its own identity.

The duet with Beast in Black singer Yannis Papadopoulos, Vengeance, is a really powerful song and belongs to one of my many favorites. In this song again the versatile nature of the band is displayed in a very energetic way which at times almost sounds combative. Not only can you again hear that thundering guitars and deep drums combined with Charlotte’s magnificent vocals, but there are also some signature Delain sounds which are again returning, like for instance the beautiful keyboards and choirs by Martijn Westerholt. All of this is combined by the, in a good way, aggressive vocals of the aforementioned Yannis Papadopoulos.

The song Creatures really underlines the need of a great rhythm section in a band and I can tell you that Delain have really got this covered. Especially when it comes to the really tight and loud drums of Joey de Boer. His skill is incredible and I have never seen a drummer of Delain that was capable of doing what this guy can do! You should really see him doing it live if you ask me. Then it’s time for the beautiful ballad Ghost House Heart. Arguably it might musically be the simplest song on the album, but that doesn’t make it less impressive. Here, and this might be due to the fact that it’s a ballad, it is displayed in full what Charlotte Wessels is actually capable of. It is with some distance one of my favorite tracks on the album.

The returning track Masters of Destiny remains a masterpiece and it’s also the last track that guitarist Merel Bechtold worked on.

But there is one song in particular that’s more powerful and majestic than all the rest and that is the epic Legions of the Lost. To me, in this song everything that Delain has worked towards when making this record comes together and is worked into a five minutes and 25 seconds masterpiece of which I never thought years ago that Delain would ever be capable of making something as beautiful, grand and amazing like it. It is very hard to describe how complete this song feels but it is definitely the cherry on top of the already delicious cake Apocalypse & Chill turned out to be.

I want to take time to say that in the closing song Combustion the band, for one final time, gets the opportunity to shine because this track is completely instrumental and guitarist Timo Somers in particular is honing his skills like a champion. Really, this guy is truly amazing!

Great job Delain! Keep this up!

You can also read our review of the Moonbathers album here, as well as our live reviews of Delain in Arnhem here and in Utrecht here. Here you can read our interview with Delain’s Martijn Westerholt and here you can read our interview with Delain’s Charlotte Wessels in which we spoke with her about Phantasma.

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