In my teenage years, the Dutch symphonic metal act DELAIN definitely played a big role. Their debut album “Lucidity” includes some of my all-time favorite songs, and ever since the band has managed to surprise me by every record they released. Even though DELAIN has been putting out music in a frequent manner, the announcement of their new studio effort “Apocalypse & Chill” surprised me in many ways. Due to the intriguing title and the new style of the cover art, I couldn’t help but wonder if the band also chose a different path when it comes down to their music, which is the main reason I wanted to review “Apocalypse & Chill,” out on 7 February via Napalm Records.
“One Second” is a dynamic mid-tempo opener, which also features guitarist Timo Somers on vocals. The song has a catchy chorus and an excellent guitar solo that kicks in right before the song concludes with the chorus. “We Had Everything” is more focused on synths, which instantly makes the song poppier, and shows a bit of a new style that the band has further developed in recent years.
“Chemical Reaction” follows a similar recipe, but includes heavier riffs, and an extremely basic drum beat, with a couple of fills here and there. The choirs lift up the atmosphere of the song to its maximum, overall songs that are leaning more towards the poppy side of the band, at the same time aren’t my cup of tea.
Luckily, things change around a little bit as “Burning Bridges,” which might sound familiar to you, as it was one of the first singles the band released in support of the album, starts playing. The harmonies in the bridge are admittedly a little bit annoying because it feels like there is some autotuning present in the high-pitched backing vocals Charlotte is singing, and come across as fairly plastic and characterless. On top of that they feel like a little bit unnecessary because Charlotte Wessels seemingly has gained more confidence in her higher belting range – and growls, and overall makes for an impressive vocal performance in “Burning Bridges.”
DELAIN used to be well known for their guest performances, the next song “Vengeance,” includes guest vocals by Yannis Papadoupolos of BEAST IN BLACK. His voice sounds like a perfect match to Charlotte Wessels and ties up the song neatly. “Vengeance” is probably one of the first highlights on this album for me. “To Live Is To Die” is a bit more of a relaxed song, with a lot of orchestrations and choirs adding more power to the song. “Let’s Dance” is a tiny bit more progressive than the other songs so far, with its heavy thugging bassline, and a catchy explosive chorus.
The next three songs are probably my favorites on the whole album. We start off with “Creatures” which includes multi-layered vocals that work very well and add a mystical atmosphere that shows just how much this band has grown in the past years. This atmosphere is continued in “Ghost House Heart,” which is simply hauntingly beautiful. The song is a bit more minimalistic, starting off with only piano and Charlotte Wessels, but gaining strength with orchestrations. It’s probably the most emotional song on the record, and Charlotte‘s vocal performance pierces right through your soul, causing goosebumps. The violin before the solo adds another perfect magical layer to the waltz.
“Masters Of Destiny” was previously released as a single, and was definitely one of my favorite tracks of 2019, and even more so one of my favorite DELAIN songs ever. The song is very progressive and has a beautiful build-up to the powerful chorus where Charlotte Wessels blows you away with her thunderous vocals. With “Masters Of Destiny,” Charlotte went far beyond any possible expectation anyone ever had.
The closing trio starts with “Legions Of The Lost,” which includes some impressive orchestrations at the beginning and continues in one of the heaviest tracks on the album. Somewhat the vocals have a bit of a futuristic atmosphere, in the choruses, it becomes clear that with this song DELAIN is really trying to focus more on the storytelling aspect of the songwriting.
“The Greatest Escape” starts with a soft piano melody and continues in a more mellow way. The song starts out as quite basic but regains strength by a violin which is introduced in the latter half of the song and accompanies Charlotte Wessels beautifully up until the bitter end. “Combustion,” the last track of the album, was a big surprise because it’s an instrumental track. It breaks a little bit with the style of the rest of the album but shows the skills of lead guitarist Timo Somers.
“Apocalypse & Chill” mainly consists of atmospheric elements that were created by the many refreshing melodies, epic orchestrations, and synth-oriented soundscapes. The vocal performance by Charlotte Wessels is often intense and more powerful than ever. She growls, belts, and in general, manages to create otherworldly moments in songs like “Ghost House Heart,” and “Masters Of Destiny.” Personally, I appreciate the latter half of the record more than the first half. Some of the songs feel as if they could have needed a little bit more oomph. Nevertheless, the album is really well-thought-out, includes great songwriting and has an outstanding production where everything sounds balanced in the mix. “Apocalypse & Chill” definitely is an album for those who enjoy more of a modern metal sound, with elements of symphonic metal.
Written by Laureline Tilkin
- One Second
- We Had Everything
- Chemical Redemption
- Burning Bridges
- Vengeance – feat. Yannis Papadopoulos
- To Live Is To Die
- Let’s Dance
- Ghost House Heart
- Masters Of Destiny
- Legions Of The Lost
- The Greatest Escape
Vocals – Charlotte Wessels
Keys – Martijn Westerholt
Guitars – Timo Somers
Bass – Otto Schimmelpenninck van der Oije
Drums – Joey de Boer