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Delain - Dark Waters review

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Band: Delain
Album: Dark Waters
Style: Symphonic metal
Release date: February 2023

Disc I
01. Hideaway Paradise
02. The Quest And The Curse
03. Beneath [feat. Paolo Ribaldini]
04. Mirror Of Night
05. Tainted Hearts
06. The Cold
07. Moth To A Flame
08. Queen Of Shadow [feat. Paolo Ribaldini]
09. Invictus [feat. Marko Hietala and Paolo Ribaldini]
10. Underland
11. The Quest And The Curse [piano version]

Disc II
01. Hideaway Paradise [instrumental version][bonus]
02. The Quest And The Curse [instrumental version][bonus]
03. Beneath [instrumental version][bonus]
04. Mirror Of Night [instrumental version][bonus]
05. Tainted Hearts [instrumental version][bonus]
06. The Cold [instrumental version][bonus]
07. Moth To A Flame [instrumental version][bonus]
08. Queen Of Shadow [instrumental version][bonus]
09. Invictus [instrumental version][bonus]
10. Underland [instrumental version][bonus]

Omne, I hear you ask, what 'cha gonna do, when Hulkamania runs wild on you?

Well, let me explain that it's rarely a good sign that a band undergoes a drastic line-up change in one fell swoop; usually a sign that people are leaving a sinking ship, the changes leave me sceptical not only for that reason, but because Wessels added a lot to the appeal of Delain and has now left.

Dark Waters is thankfully an exception to the trend of such radical changes resulting in poor releases; this dramatic transition has not damaged Delain's ability to produce a strong album. With Delain's fortunes seemingly stalling somewhat after The Human Contradiction, Dark Waters offers the band a new beginning to try and jumpstart the band's momentum. 

Kicking off this new era in the band's history is "Hideaway Paradise", a strong first foot forward and a solid showcase of what the new line-up is capable of. A compact, sprawling symphonic epic is probably the best way the band could have ushered in the changes. Dark Waters confidently proceeds ahead, through strong tracks "The Quest And The Curse" and "Tainted Hearts" before culminating with "Moth To A Flame", which, for me, is the band's catchiest track since "April Rain". Delain highlight their ability to write short, punchy yet grandiose tracks that catch the ear and hold the attention consistently throughout. 

"Mirror Of Night" showcases the vocal range of Wessels' replacement, Leah; though she may not have the same strength in personality as her predecessor, her vocal talent is undeniable. The new-look band are indeed a capable group, with Dark Waters not lacking in the musicianship department, while Westerholt, the lone remaining original member, is probably the MVP thanks to his work on "The Cold" et al; however, the rest of the band hold their own. 

Helping keep a sense of sonic continuity is the production work done on Dark Waters, maintaining a familiar tone that balances personality and the expansive elements of the tracks. "Queen Of Shadow" highlights how the broad and bombastic sound is channelled into powerful and digestible tracks. The only shortcoming to the production work is the almost inaudible bass; although rarely a showpiece in symphonic music, it is nigh-on literally the silent partner here. 

What Dark Waters has in common with the rest of the band's discography is that the band's songwriting is consistently good, but rarely great. As enjoyable as tracks like "Invictus" and "Underland" are, they don't push through to that next level; they're enjoyable listening, but not something you will be rushing to rewind and listen to on repeat. Even with the large upheaval in the band's personnel, the more things change, the more some things stay the same. 

While the Delain ship is not sinking as initially thought when Wessels and co left two years ago, Dark Waters does not breathe fresh momentum into the band's sails, instead leaving them moving forward at much the same speed as they had been going prior. Dark Waters is an enjoyable album, one that is well worth a listen; just don't expect it to be on regular rotation.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 7
Songwriting: 7
Originality: 6
Production: 8

Written on 16.02.2023 by Just because I don't care doesn't mean I'm not listening.


Comments: 2   Visited by: 72 users
17.02.2023 - 14:23
Rating: 7
Duck Dodgers

Shows how replaceable Wessels was. It is a generic thing with this genre.
...and justice for Tuomas! lol
17.02.2023 - 18:05

Indeed, this could have been a new start or a re-start for the band, but it seems they just go on the road trawelled sofar.

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