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Album Review : Delain : Dark Waters

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Review by Paddy Gallagher for MPM

After the mass exodus of 4/5 of the band in 2021 it was always going to be interesting how the new line up would sound.

Would there be a musical change in direction? Long time Delain fans will be able to answer this as I’m not familiar with much of their early work, but being very much into Epica, Nightwish etc I figured I’d give the review a go when asked.

“Dark Waters” is Delain’s 7th studio album, and “Hideaway Paradise” introduces us to the new era, allowing us our first listen to the clean, sweet vocals of Diana Leah and when combined with the musicianship and song writing on display.

First impressions are very positive. It’s the album’s second song, “The Quest and the Curse” before we hear the growls of bassist Ludovico Cioffi combining with Diana’s cleans and both songs highlight extremely well written melodic, Symphonic Metal. Obviously, we have continuity provided by original member Martijn Westerholt looking after song writing, orchestrations and keyboards resulting in Delain heading exactly where the main man wants it to go without veering off course since the crew change.

A special mention must go to all musicians, the line-up rounded out by original members Sander Zoer on drums and Ronald Landa on guitars for stellar performances throughout.

“Beneath” continues the strong song writing with tasty guitar work from Ronald Landa, Delain’s trademark heavy guitar riffs and bombastic orchestration continues. It is followed by the keyboard prominent start to “Mirror of Night” before the crushing riffs lead into Diana’s clear vocals.

This gig appears to be a complete change in career trajectory for Diana who it comes from as non-metal a background as it is possible to get, her previous work was with DJ’s and producers in the field of Trance. A fine voice and I must do some digging to see if there’s any symphonic / operatic background to her CV; it sounds like it!

“Tainted Hearts” has strong up-tempo Gothic feels, I can visualise a promo video for this one. Orchestrations come to the fore at the start of “The Cold” where if played live would merit strategic blasts from stage flamethrowers. “Moth to a Flame” is propelled by cracking chugging riffs leading into a chorus with fine vocal melodies. A strong European Symphonic / Power Metal feel to this one.

While listening to “Queen of Shadow” a though occurs to me. When you consider the farce that The Grammys is with disposable mediocrity being rewarded in a lot of cases, it is clear in the Symphonic Metal world there is an abundant supply of quality and talent that wipes the floor with many of the preening prima donnas and their entourages.

“Invictus” is heavy and orchestral; close your eyes and imagine an accompaniment with an orchestra in a theatre setting. “Underland” is the last “new” song before a piano version of “The Quest and the Curse”.

Depending on the version you buy (I’m old school), there is instrumental versions of all songs available, well worth the extra few bob. I have to say I’m mightily impressed by the whole package Delain of 2023 brings, very pleasing riffage is a constant in this album; most excellent song writing and musicianship apparent throughout.

If you’re a fan of Epica, Nightwish and Within Temptation to name the most prominent exponents of Symphonic Metal don’t make the same mistake I made by not paying close attention to Delain. Hell, even fans of Kamelot, Stratovarius and their Progressive Power Metal cohorts should love this.

Right, I’m away to re-introduce myself to Delain’s back catalogue.

Dark Waters Tracklist:

  1. Hideaway Paradise
  2. The Quest and the Curse
  3. Beneath
  4. Mirror of Night
  5. Tainted Hearts
  6. The Cold
  7. Moth to a Flame
  8. Queen of Shadow
  9. Invictus
  10. Underland

Martijn Westerholt – keyboards
Diana Leah – vocals
Ronald Landa – guitars and backing vocals
Ludovico Cioffi – bass and backing vocals
Sander Zoer – drums
DELAIN online:
Napalm Records

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