The fifth full-length release from Delain finds the Dutch symphonic metal act looking towards the future with a combined sense of fear and optimism. Appearing to presage dark, dystopian times, the riffs and beats on the latest album Apocalypse & Chill (Napalm Records) are countered (for the most part) by the uplifting vocal melodies of singer Charlotte Wessels as they suggest a more hopeful future.
‘One Second’ opens the record, a firm statement of intent featuring dual vocals, bright keyboards and a driving rhythm. This is followed by ‘We Had Everything’, which with its simple but irresistible chorus, has single written all over it.
The band has spoken of incorporating new influences onto this record, and with ‘Chemical Redemption’, it would appear that sitting alongside the usual staccato riffs and choral backing, German industrial/Neue Deutsche Härte monsters Rammstein are one of those influences to which they refer.
‘Burning Bridges’ features a heavy, thumping riff offset by gentle vocals before a harsh, almost Arch Enemy style vocal section kicks in. Beast in Black vocalist Yannis Papadopoulos guests on the dramatic ‘Vengeance’, one of the albums strongest cuts, and this is followed by the equally impressive ‘to Live is to Die’.
Things drop off (very) briefly with the solid but unspectacular ‘Let’s Dance’, and ‘Creatures’, which in between opening with a great, lurching riff and ending by lifting the chord progression to ‘The Show Must Go On’ by Queen, does pretty much what you expect it to without any surprises, much like ethereal ballad ‘Ghost House Heart’ although you’ll find the latter definitely grows on you with each listen.
Any lost momentum is regained quickly though as the album continues with the solid ‘Masters of Destiny’ and the excellent ‘Legions of the Lost’ on which Charlotte employs a refreshingly different vocal meter. This variation of delivery continues to some extent on penultimate track ‘The Greatest Escape’, before the album closes with ‘Combustion’. Arguably one of the album’s finest tracks, the entirely instrumental piece switches between smoky atmospherics and powerful riffs, backed by some sterling solo work from guitarist Timo Somers.
Boasting a highly polished production, Apocalypse and Chill is well worth the near four years wait that fans have had to endure since the previous album, Moonbathers (Napalm). Charlotte’s voice is on top form, switching from lilting, soothing strains to a harsher, more strident delivery on certain songs. The obvious similarities to Within Temptation still remain, but with the addition of other, newer influences, even this is getting pushed further into the background as the band continues to forge ahead on their own path.