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Delain are a Dutch symphonic metal band founded in 2002 by ex-Within Temptation keyboardist Martijn Westerholt. Lucidity is their debut album and has many guest artists including Marco Hietala (Nightwish), Liv Kristine (Leaves' Eyes) and Sharon Den Adel (Within Temptation).
The album opens with the song 'Sever', which is a brooding, atmospheric example of symphonic metal. The lyrics and vocals are almost haunting at first before the introduction of Marco Hietala's voice. Overall this song is a strong start to a good album. I particularly like the almost monk-like chanting that appears to be the bridge and outro for this song.
The second song on the album is 'Frozen' which opens up with a tune that could almost be from a music box before the guitars and drums kick in with a fairly heavy riff. This was the first single from the album and the first without a guest vocalist. This song is more heavy metal than symphonic metal but is a great song nonetheless.
Silhouette of A Dancer is the third track on the CD and opens with a very rough, distorted guitar riff. This song features growling vocals from George Oosthoek (ex-Orphanage). Personally I'm not over fond of the growling vocals, as it does not gel that well with the symphonic nature of the rest of the song, but that aside, this is still a good track.
Track four is called No Compliance and once again features vocals by Marco Hietela and also by Sharon Den Adel. I'm not certain I can actually pick out Delain's vocalist Charlotte Wessel's voice in this song. It has a very Within Temptation vibe to it. I like it, but I don't think it's the best song on the album. The orchestral part of this song is very nice though.
See Me In Shadow is the fifth song on the album and features vocals by Liv Kristine. It begins as quite a delicate song, with a piano (keyboard) overlaid by female vocals which becomes something of a duet. Somehow this song is less heavy than some of the others on the album, though the guitar riff chugs along nicely. Overall it is a very nice song and showcases the (slightly) softer side of Delain.
Shattered is a very symphonic song, with a catchy riff and keyboards. It is another song with only Charlotte Wessel's vocals. Again, this song is slightly less heavy, but not quite as soft as the previous one. It's almost pop like, but that doesn't matter. It's still a great song and perfectly placed as the album crescendos towards its peak.
The Gathering is my absolute favourite song on this album. There is just something about it that pulls together perfectly. It opens with a duet between Charlotte Wessels and Marco Hietela before breaking into an effortlessly catchy riff. The vocals for this song are excellent, there's just something about their two voices that just go together. I really like the lyrics as well. For me, this is definitely the highlight of the album.
Given the effortless perfection of the previous song, the one that followed had to do something fairly special. Daylight Lucidity is another example of how symphonic metal should be done. It is the keyboards that really are the star of this song. Again Marco Hietela features on this song, along with some wonderful chorus vocals. If the Gathering is the highlight of the album, then this one is very close behind it.
Sleepwalker's Dream is track number nine, and has no guest vocals. It is yet another brilliantly executed song. Each instrument works wonderfully with all the others, and Charlotte Wessel gets to show off what she can do just a little bit. Not may favourite song on the album, but still excellent.
A Day For Ghosts is another song with a moody, atmospheric opening and a catchy riff. Again there are haunting vocals, and I love the heavy, almost speed-metal like riffing. This is the last song on the album featuring Marco Hietela and this time he's slightly shoutier. Despite this though, the two vocalists' voices still work well together, and the song is very good; slightly creepy and a little scary at times, but excellent nonetheless.
Pristine feels like a big song. It has a gentle opening, but from there the keyboards soar. Again this song has the growly vocals of George Oosthoek, which I don't really like. With the exception of that, I like everything about this song. Since track twelve is a bonus track, Pristine should be the end of the album. It is a very big, symphonic song, and would make an excellent finish.
Deep Frozen is the final song on the album, and a bonus track. It is essentially the song Frozen remixed with a different chorus. At it is George Oosthoek growling out the new chorus, I far prefer the original. As an end to the album, it's not particularly rilliant, but as a bonus track I imagine it will be very satisfying for some.
In general, this is an extremely good album; I could barely tell that this was a debut effort. I think Lucidity really benefits form the guest artists, without taking any sense of identity away from Delain. I will certainly be keeping an eye on them, and I hope they work with Marco Hietela again in the future.
As far as symphonic gothic metal bands go, Delain are among the most enjoyable, though still a little inescapably dull. Formed by ex-Within Temptation keyboardist Martijn Westerholt who dominates the soundscape alongside by the pleasant vocals of Charlotte Wessels, this is a heavily symphonic band that thankfully avoids the operatic clichés of groups such as Nightwish, relying on something more atmospheric and frankly, less cheesy.
All of the songs are performed at a relatively slow tempo and exude eloquence in their synthesised orchestral bombast, with only a couple of deviations from the standard formula. Opener 'Sever' is more orchestral, 'See Me in Shadow' is a piano ballad, and 'Sleepwalker's Dream' stands out the most essentially for having the most memorable melody. The male vocals supplement the female nicely, opting for power metal wails rather than the typical growling that plagues these sort of albums, but rock fans averse to keyboard dominance would be best to stay away, as the guitar is relegated to a steady rhythm-keeper.
3. Silhouette of a Dancer
4. No Compliance
5. See Me in Shadow
7. The Gathering
8. Daylight Lucidity
9. Sleepwalker's Dream
10. Day for Ghosts