Delain - MoonbathersMetal bands sure like to take baths in a wide variety of places, be it in the sun, in blood, in ghosts, in wombs, in entrails, or in whatever “slaughtb” is. Me, I’m more of a shower guy. A nice cold shower helps you think, and tons of great ideas come to be in there, but sometimes you get this introductory bit. It seems that the Dutchmen and Dutchwomen in Delain have suggested a new place for our metallic hygienic niche to take place on their fifth album: the moon. Soon enough, if the trend continues, we’ll get bands or records named after taking a bath in all of the heavenly bodies of Plato’s Timaeus; what a time to be alive. Run a bath – preferably one filled with regular water – for effect, and let’s see what Moonbathers has to offer the curious listener.

Moonbathers is unsurprisingly focused on simple, unobtrusive, and mostly chugging riffs and grandiose keyboard parts in order to showcase leading lady Charlotte Wessels’s vocal talents as strongly as possible. Also unsurprisingly, Wessels gets the lion’s share of the hooks here, which isn’t a bad choice as she’s quite the capable singer. The music itself sounds like symphonic female-fronted Eurocore á la Nightwish1 and keyboardist Martijn Westerholt’s old band Within Temptation, which means that it’s big, hook-oriented arena rock with a metallic flavour and some melodic sensibilities that are generally more in line with modern Dark Tranquility than, say, classic Whitesnake. It also sounds like Delain’s other stuff, so if you were a fan of these guys and gals you’ll immediately recognize and probably like what’s going on here.

I was immediately struck by opener “Hands of Gold” and its Pirates of the Caribbean style bombast; it reminded me of Alestorm a bit, was plenty catchy, and made a good first impression overall. The sappy balladry of “Chrysalis – Last Breath” gives Wessels a ton of room to maneuver, and her impassioned midsection performance is a treat to hear, even if the chorus is too close to the soundtrack of pick-a-Disney-princess-flick for my liking. “Fire with Fire” is poppy hard rock and the best song on the record, embracing simplicity, hooks, and conciseness to make a quality cheeseball tune. Delain covers Queen’s “Scandal” admirably well, replete with an instrumental that sounds like something Trond Holter would give Jørn to do his gloriously gratuitous vocal magic over. This Jørn-ness must’ve been picked up on by Wessels, as she puts on a wonderfully over-the-top performance which exudes confidence and vocal talent.

Delain 2016

While she played a pivotal role in the best parts of Moonbathers, Wessels is also responsible for the record’s most outright irritating moment. “Danse Macabre” has overbearing wordless vocal wailing, and it immediately torpedoed my enjoyment of the whole song as it appears right at the beginning. While her voice is good, it isn’t Frank’s Hot Sauce and she’s not an elderly woman; she can’t arbitrarily put it on everything. Closer “The Monarch” sounds like the love child of the Metal Gear Solid 2 and Frozen soundtracks, a mere kernel of idea that abruptly ends the record on an unsatisfying note because it goes nowhere and does essentially nothing. “Turn the Lights Out” sounds like Wessels is auditioning for Floor’s spot in Nightwish while the rest of Delain is trying to score a place on a Japanese video game soundtrack and then doing a (Metal Cover) of their own work when it kicks in to the comparatively heavier bit. It’s not terrible, but it’s not exactly a winner either.

Delain kept the Eurocore status quo in production with Wessels dominating the mix, guitars cleanly distorted, bass boosting the bottom end, keyboards prominent, and drums about as polished and risk-averse as possible. Clean, loud, and quintessentially modern would be good descriptors of the sound here. For what it’s worth, I have trouble picturing what they’re doing being produced any other way, so it works wonders in that regard.

Despite all of the soundtrack references and criticisms, I enjoyed Moonbathers for what it is: a simple, catchy, but ultimately lukewarm record. While the writers at the various leather-and-spikes flavours of Pravda around the metal blogosphere will likely bristle or write a six-thousand word op-ed at the following association, there’s a glass ceiling for this type of record. It can’t be great, because it relishes in being somewhere around the good mark. This is the difference between a band succeeding organically and one consciously trying to appeal to as many people as humanly possible, or the band which has die-hard fans acting like raving lunatics at small or medium-sized venues and the band which people passively enjoy at a big European festival. Delain is the latter in both examples, and the one thing they’re great at is being okay.


Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 256 kbps mp3
Label: Napalm Records
Websites: delain.nl | facebook.com/delainmusic
Releases Worldwide: August 26th, 2016

Show 1 footnote

  1. I created the Eurocore genre to describe the Swedish bands that started sounding like metalcore without being metalcore. Later In Flames or The Haunted or Soilwork. Nightwish wouldn’t have fit my original definition. – AMG
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  • Oscar Albretsen

    Man, I really wanna like this. No out of place technical hubub. No indecipherable screaming. Just some good ole straight ahead hard rock with some really beautiful sounding singing. Love the album cover,too. But you didn’t give it a good score! Oh well, based on this song, I may have to pick this up. Oh, and btw, new Opeth is coming September 30th. Just a month and a half!

    • JohnC

      I think the review was fair, I’m a fan of the band and this sounds like it’s gonna be great to me personally, but that’s basically what the review comes across as too. He thought it was just okay, but fans of the band will like it.

      • AlteredState

        Well… my wife is a huge fan of them (already saw them live 6 or 7 times because of her) and she’s REALLY disappointed with the album. Like last Nightwish album level of disappointment (she hated it)
        I know some other fans and their reception to the album is very mixed as well, so…
        I guess that the average reception to the album is going to be average, with a lot of fans loving it while others hating it.

        For me personally I agree with TalesFanGirl post above that said that most Delain albuns rely on 2-3 very good songs surrounded with mediocre stuff. And this album is an perfect example of that formula.

  • Dr. A.N. Grier

    I get most my intros while sitting on the toilet.

    Great review but I say no to this.

  • Iain Gleasure

    Damn! Now that Jorn and Alestorm have been invoked no one will give this a chance.

    It’s all pirate hatred and Jorn jokes from here on in.

    • [not a Dr]

      2 days without a Jorn comment? On an article that explicitly mentions Jorn? What kind of alternate “reality” did I land in this time?

  • Oscar Albretsen

    Oh, and I forgot to mention: the singer’s HOT! Yummy yummy yum yum! If I owned this, that booklet might be able to serve another purpose if my internet connection goes down

    • GardensTale

      Something you can sadly not say about many metal bands. Especially Dave Murray, who is still one of the ugliest men to become a guitar god, looking like a pinched E.T. with the rosy cheeks of a fresh born baby.

      • [not a Dr]

        That would depend on individual preferences and tastes.

  • Saw them open for Nightwish a year or so ago. Actually the best part of the show I thought. Wessel is charismatic. Nightwish was dull by comparison.

    No I’m not a Nightwish fan, yes my exwife dragged me there.

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      She’s quite the singer indeed. A lot more engaging than most in this style.

      • Adjudant

        His ex-wife?

  • Alexandre Barata

    The production is awful, and the embedded song ain’t much better. Maybe it’s just me, tired of all this pop-core

    • Thank goodness for trve gvys like yov bro, else I’m svre we’d be overrvn with “all this pop-core.”

      • Alexandre Barata

        It’s kinda pathetic that if someone expresses a different opinion in the Heavy Metal “community” is labeled either as elitist or trve. Still I’m here to please

        • I think it’s just that the rest of this “community” realizes it’s immature to make negative statements about entire subgenres as if your displeasure will somehow put an end to them once and for all. Only AMG’s opinions can do that.

          • Alexandre Barata

            I feel the need to explain myself to a random stranger on the internet for the sake of the argumentation.
            As you might see, in my first comment I actually didn’t make some “negative statements about entire subgenres”, as I actually find some solace in a couple of the pop-core bands out there, saying instead that I’m tired of the genre as a whole (its direction and/or the rate of good releases per total number of releases).

            Also, you put me in the box of “trve gvys”, without having any knowledge whatsoever about my general taste in music, which seems to be a bit of an imature reaction to a comment that might have caused you some butthurting. A general assumption of my trveness over a single comment is, then, blithering idiocy.

          • Stop the fussin and afeudin! Community hugs for all!

          • Alexandre Barata

            As a trve elitist metalhead I’m going to my cave to listen to Vegan Rastafarian Groove Metal, or to some Taoist Powerviolence! I send my hugs and kisses to y’all:)

          • [not a Dr]

            I don’t think powerviolence hugs and kisses work.
            (but that may just be me being k00lt, or whatever)

          • Alexandre Barata

            Are you Jon Snow??? Cause you know nothing man!

          • Name’s Dalton

            Props for Simpson’s reference.

          • Oscar Albretsen

            It wasn’t all that negative. He just said he’s personally tired of the subgenre.

          • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

            AMG edicts are law, except when it comes to Alestorm. They still rule.

  • Morrowind542

    This really reminds me more of Flyleaf than Nightwish.

  • Monsterth Goatom

    I might give it a listen, or I might just Let It Go.

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      You just couldn’t hold that back anymore, could you?

      • Monsterth Goatom

        Nope,
        Couldn’t keep it in;
        Heaven knows I’ve tried

  • JiffBruhYanno

    Sounds like their worst release so far, by-the-numbers Delain

  • sir_c

    Well, the guitarist couldn’t get any more delain.

    #baaadwordplaysunday

  • TalesFanGirl

    “Turn the Lights Out” sounds like Wessels is auditioning for Floor’s spot in Nightwish while the rest of Delain is trying to score a place on a Japanese video game soundtrack and then doing a (Metal Cover) of their own work when it kicks in to the comparatively heavier bit. It’s not terrible, but it’s not exactly a winner either.”

    I like Delain, but this made me LOL.

    I really want to love Delain (They’re amazing live!), but their albums are too much of a mixture of 2-3 truly great songs surrounded by mediocre fluff. I’m not as impressed with “The Glory and the Scum” as I was with “Suckerpunch,” but I’ll keep my mind open with Moonbathers.

    • Roy

      I have to agree with you. I’m a Delain fan and have seen them live a no of times now (and they are great live). However I have been pretty dissapointed with their albums of late. There’s just not enough meat on the bones with a lot of their albums of late, and with Moonbathers I’m only liking 3 songs so far…Glory and the Scum, Suckerpunch and Fire with Fire (my fave of the 3). For me, We Are The Others was a pretty strong album overall. Its just gone downhill from there. This won’t stop me seeing them live again this year of course :) Anyway maybe this album will grow on me more with more listens.

  • Feytalist

    If nothing else, I quite like the album cover. In a Gothabilly kind of way.

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      I believe the album cover would have much better if it had been done as a touched-up photograph instead of a painting. It is a cool concept but executing it as apainting makes it way less impressive. Basically the execution killed it. Pun not intended, but came out nice anyways.

      • Feytalist

        Nah… those touched-up photos have the tendency to come out really weird and kinda Uncanny Valley-looking. I much prefer a drawn cover, especially in this almost comic booky style.

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    And for a slight variation on the bath theme you can never go wrong (or rather you can never go right) with Bathtub Shitter.

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    That “if you were a fan of these guys and gals you’ll immediately recognize and probably like what’s going on here” line totally nails it.

  • [not a Dr]

    Before she hurt her neck, grandma Diamond liked bathing herself in the moonlight.

  • I’d Rather Be Fellwalking

    Everyone has an opinon. I loved this from start to finish. Strong song writing. Good unobvious choice of cover. Sad when it got to the end. Straight back to start it went.