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April Rain
Sensory –
I think this is out any day on Roadrunner and as a kind of follow up the original Delain project recording ‘Lucidity’, with its stirring compositions ‘The Gathering’ and ‘Frozen’, this new album finds Delain as a band ready for the road and fronted by the totally alluring songstress Charlotte Wessels. The lady seemed awed and humbled by the fantastic reception granted to the the group as they opened their ‘April Rain’ European tour in London at the Relentless Garage. The symphonic metal / rock bands seem to bring out a more civilised and musically knowledgable audience than most ‘metal’ gigs where the collective IQ can be extremely low and it seems de rigeur to block other punters’ view and talk gibberish at top volume to your equally simian and odorous mates. A crisp and impressive set by Achilla with their Paganini-tinged guitar player set the tone for this show.

Yes, Delain do observe the traditions of this strand of music – clear vocal passages, keyboard-driven verses, hard-edged guitar chords of various distortions and thunderous drum clatters plus the viciously-toned solo’s BUT there is quite an element of Tori Amos -tinged melodic ranging and phrasing which lifts Delain away from the absolute stereotype   orchestral metal into something with wider appeal. It ain’t just headbanging and it is striking how many of the band’s arrangements really do frame Charlotte’s vocal performances to maximum advantage.

As the bass player Rob had just left the band we Londoners got to see the first ever live appearance of a man who looked like a tall Viking warrior racing ashore armed with a six-string electric bass – one Otto ‘The Baron’ Schimmelpenninck ! I hope I got that right, you wouldn’t want to annoy this chap. How splendid a player he turned out to be, fitting into the group as well as anyone ever could and complementing Sander’s drumming.

Martijn Westerholt is a keys man well-known in this area of rock ; Ron Landa is a dextrous and always melodic guitarist, much closer in feel to Ernie Isley than the tattooed grimacing oafs who pass for axemen in most metal combo’s.

On this album the songs showcase Wessels’ voice to optimum effect with a 3D mix by Jacob Hansen. The title cut is fabulous, soaring and layered but with skill not dampening feel and dig the double-tracking of the vocal. Every ingredient is clear, would that all records sounded this punchy. The often staccato tempo’s demand a high degree of interplay and dynamic touch.

Guest singer Marco Hietala is easily accommodated into the duet-track ‘Control The Storm’, such is the ability of this group. A splendid guitar solo also jumps into this one.

The weird flanged intro to ‘Virtue And Vice’ seem to float the tune on a sonic cloud, mixing heaven and hell ; whilst ‘Go Away’ is too frantic too often. ‘Start Swimming’ has a lovely acoustic lilt and Charlotte eases up on the vocal to sound quasi-Celtic for this song. My favourite track is probably ‘I’ll Reach You’ with its chordal cadence and melodic thread plus a quite addictive refrain.

If Tarja Turunen’s ‘Winter Storm’ album captured the dark mysticism of winter then Delain can rightly lay claim to distilling the sound of an emerging electric-storm ridden spring


Pete Sargeant

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