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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Delain

April Rain

Review by Gary Hill

I have to say that when I first heard the female fronted, symphonically tinged epic metal genre, I was impressed. It was something new and unique and showed a lot of talent. Well, years later and seemingly countless bands jumping on the band wagon, it still does often times show talent. Those other things are very far from the truth, though. It’s become a cliché anymore and the bands that perform this type of music are as interchangeable as the latest pop sensation or boy band. This album certainly suffers from that fact.

 

Don’t get me wrong, what Delain does, they do well. It’s just that they don’t stretch out and most of the music here is extremely trite and predictable. It’s a real credit to their talents that for the most part they manage to rise above that and shine for most of the disc. There are even a couple songs that seem willing to stretch the envelope. I just wish they’d taken more chances.

 

So, if you are a fan of this kind of music, you will definitely like the disc – even if you’ve heard it all before. If you are practitioner of this type of music, I would like to take this opportunity to address you. There are too many bands doing this kind of stuff and they all become mindless, faceless delivery systems of generic music. Change your style – because there aren’t many miles left in the treads of the tire that you use to drive your music. And when they go flat, you’ll be skidding into obscurity. You’ve got talent if you are doing this stuff. Apply yourself and do something original. If you are one of the bands that originated the sound – sorry. You had a nice pool, but too many people have jumped in now and they’ve ruined the water for everyone.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2009  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
April Rain
The title track opens the album, and a piano based arrangement starts it. They work out from there something metallic, but the vocals land it more in a pop rock vein. There are some much more metallic sections later in the track. I love the multiple layers of vocals. This song has plenty of crunch and yet is catchy and mainstream.
Stay Forever
I can’t see that title without thinking of the old school computer game “Impossible Mission.” “Another visitor…stay a while…stay forever.” They start this with a rock meets symphonic texture and then turn it to very classically oriented European epic metal. In what is starting to look like the group’s formula, they drop it way down to a stripped back first verse and then power up to the anthemic for the chorus. Again, they manage to pull some added mileage out of a design that’s getting quite trite just on the strength of the performance.
Invidia
Here the flaws of the genre are really catching up to the band. This has a few moments, but overall really suffers from being over clichéd and totally predictable. I wouldn’t consider this a throw away, but for all the talent they show off in the midst of this, it’s just rather average – because we’ve heard it all before a million times. 
Control The Storm
While there’s not a huge change in terms of song structure here, this is a great number. And that’s due to a large degree to some incredible vocal work from guest Marco Hietala. Another contributing factor is some scorching guitar work. That’s the ticket. If you are going to be generic in your song construction you have to blow way past the competition in terms of performance to stand out. 
On The Other Side
Now, this is an exceptional song. I wouldn’t consider this to be metal, but instead is somewhere between the territory of European epic metal, the sounds of Tori Amos and vintage Heart. Whatever you call it, though, it’s a nice change of pace and one of the highlights of the set. 
Virtue And Vice
On the one hand the break allows this track to shine a bit above the earlier monotony. On the other, though, I hate the death metal vocals we get mid track. That makes this a mixed bag and a middle of the road piece. The symphonic mellower segment is a nice touch, though.
Go Away
This one is a step in the right direction for sure. It has plenty of that female fronted epic metal texture, but they throw in a healthy dosage of steroids on this one, pumping it up and cranking the amps to eleven. This is another highlight of the set.
Start Swimming
They start this one off as an acoustic guitar based ballad. Frankly, I wish they’d left it at that. When they power it out to the harder rocking motifs it’s back into the dreaded land of generica.
Lost
Here’s another where they transcend and overcome the limitations. This alternates between a scorching (if predictable) symphonic metal movement and a mellower (and very passionately powerful) segment. I like this one a lot. Yeah, I know it’s not anything earth shattering, but they do it so well.
I'll Reach You
With an anthemic arrangement that alternates between mellower and harder rocking motifs, this is generic, but still quite strong.
Nothing Left
Yet another where they blow past the boundaries and limitations of the genre, this is a strong track despite its built in limitations. It’s not all that different than the other music here – yet shines. That’s actually quite impressive.
Come Closer
Not a lot different from the other stuff here, this still works reasonably well. It is one of the more potent pieces here and that makes it a good choice for disc closer.
 
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