Delain – Dark Waters: Album Review

The ‘new’ Delain return, phoenix from the flames style, sounding as vital as ever. Their Dark Waters run deep.

Release Date: 10th February 2023

Label: Napalm Records

Format: digital / CD / vinyl

Almost exactly three years on from Apocalypse & Chill, Delain return in a slightly new guise and while the vision of main man Martijn Westerholt continues, all eyes and ears will be trained on new vocalist Diana Leah. Declaring our cards early doors – we think she does a wonderful job. She’s right at home, as we say in our parts, with her feet under the table. And while we’re declaring early, let’s add that Dark Waters is a monster of an album that not only upholds the Delain reputation but will strike fear into the heart of any pretenders. This is how it should be done.

It might be a new start, but to coin Jimmy Page’s go-to phrase in justifying his reworkings of the Zep catalogue, while the picture may change, the frame remains very much the same. Delain staples – angelic and even operatic utterances, banging riffs (cue synchronised head banging/shaking), monumental arrangements that shift the Metal leanings into widescreen symphonic and theatrical are all present and correct. In Martijn’s words – “all the elements Delain is known for, while also moving forward with fresh influences.

The Delain cards might initially appear to be played close(ish) to the chest with the mid-paced Hideaway Paradise, disguising a stormer of a chorus – it would be of course. “The storm is raging above me” declares Diana almost in anticipation of what’s imminent with The Quest And The Curse. It might sound like a throwback to The Glory And The Scum and it’s a towering piece of work where the new lineup demonstrates with aplomb how change is nothing to fear (unlike the fearsome vocal or massed chants of doom that prove the contrast to challenge Diana’s soaring counter).

Listening to Beneath, there’s a thought that the vocals take us into Heavy Abba territory, Benny & Bjorn uncovering their dark side. Indeed, its partner, Mirror Of Night could be their Eurovision entry and is perhaps the lightest moment on an album where the pace is pretty relentless. With no concession to breaks for pause points or downtime ballads, the thundering rhythms at the opening of Tainted Hearts and The Cold suggest they could be the crossover tracks; the ones that bridge 2023 to 2020. Grandiose and dramatic, straight from a cinematic – thinking specifically Pirates Of The Caribbean – soundtrack.

Underland seals the deal with a massive, in scope and sound, an effort that sees kitchen sinks thrown in for a ‘bigger is better’ effect; the massed voices again soaring amidst the ominous Metal thunder. One word conspicuous by its absence so far is melody. The hooks come at the speed of light – the songwriting team has outdone themselves and kudos to the band whose energy and commitment in bringing those epic visions to life is inspirational. It seems a good time to revive a tried and trusted phrase and declare Dark waters as a stunning example of the power and the glory of Delain.

The anticipation for two UK dates in April in London and Manchester is palpable.

Delain online:  website / facebook / Twitter / Instagram  

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