As the brainchild of former Within Temptation keyboardist Martijn Westerholt, Dutch symphonic metal quintet Delain naturally pride themselves on elegantly lavish arrangements and commanding hooks. After all, lead vocalist Charlotte Wessels—who’s been there since 2006’s debut LP, Lucidity—is easily among the best singers in the scene; likewise, the rest of the current line-up (guitarist Timo Somers, bassist Otto Schimmelpenninck van der Oije, and drummer Joey de Boer) are equally adept at solidifying a very characteristic sound. It’s no shock, then, that their latest record, Apocalypse & Chill (which threads together the “sense of impending doom and [the] human indifference to it”) nails that chemistry yet again. True, it doesn’t stray very far from 2016’s Moonbathers, but that’s just fine considering its multitude of tempting melodies and hefty complexity.
One of Delain’s strongest attributes has always been their in-your-face catchiness, and Apocalypse & Chill definitely doesn’t disappoint there. Among the most infectious tunes is opener “One Second,” which begins with angelic croons and piano notes to set the stage for a powerhouse of sentimental lyrics, trudging riffs, gripping rhythms, and empowering verses and choruses. Arguably its greatest feature is that last one, as it packs an irresistible sing-along punch by mingling clean male and female vocals with infrequent snarls, demonstrating every facet of the band’s singing strengths in one fell swoop. As such, its radio-friendly pop/rock base, elevated by genre intensity and intricacy, is quite enticing.
Delain certainly don’t rewrite any rules with Apocalypse & Chill, as they deliver everything you’d expect given their past works and the overarching style in general. Still, they do enough to make it satisfyingly invigorating and interesting, with a few new tricks here and there to make the record stand on its own. Beyond that, they remain a top-notch act due to their refined commitment, talent, and ability to compose and perform with a shared mind and purpose. In other words, symphonic metal typically sticks to familiar ground—with only marginal variation and experimentation from time to time—and Delain undoubtedly still do it better than most of their peers.