Delain – The Human Contradiction (Napalm Records)

Thursday, 27th March 2014
Rating: 7.5/10

For one’s bang for their buck, hard to get any better in the poppy female-fronted metal annals that Delain jams “April Rain” and “Frozen.” They’re the exact type of songs this subgenre was built for: Sweet, serene clean vocals, commercial hooks, and enough heaviness to justify being called metal. It’s formula metal 101, but who cares – these two jams are marvelous. Now, Delain can’t keep it up for the entire course of an album (although that would be awesome), but it establishes what the band is capable of, something they don’t tinker much with on their fourth album, The Human Contradiction.

Still going about their business like a sub-Nightwish and/or Within Temptation (founding member Martjin Westerholt actually got his start with Sharon den Adel and team), the natural ebb of symphonic metal is ever-so-gradually pushed along by Delian via sweeping, pouty numbers like opener “Here Come the Vultures” and the upfront “Your Body is a Battleground.” (Sure beats “Your Body is a Wonderland,” right?) Vocalist Charlotte Wessels sounds self-assured, even grappling with some really stupid leather-suit Goth vocals on “My Masquerade.” She’s given some help in the form of Nightwish male vocalist Marco Hietala on the aforementioned “Your Body is a Battleground,” as well as “Sing to Me,” providing the necessary Finnish barrel-chested balance.

Nevertheless, nothing quite new to see from Delain, they’re still plodding along somewhere in the second level, perhaps a few paces behind the ever-overrated Epica. Actually, there’s a growing faction who would prefer a band like Delain to Simone Simons and gang, but for that to become a total reality, Delain needs to stick with the sticky sweet pop metal and not worry about falling in line with symphonic metal standards.

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