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Former Within Temptation keyboardist Martin Westerholt's health had him watch his brother's, and sister-in-law's, band rocket past Terrorizer features, Kerrang! covers and constant radio and music TV rotation to levels of fame and popularity enjoyed by only very few heavy bands in recent years. Within Temptation and Nightwish; those are the big ones. But as far as I'm concerned missing out on all that adulation is the best thing that ever happened to the man, as left to his own devices he was eventually driven to gather a group of session musicians and hire unknown Charlotte Wessels for one of the best records the female-fronted niche of heavy metal and hard rock has yet produced.
The album takes the shape of a thematically and conceptually strong series of mid-paced symphonic/ pop metal songs performed by a fairly large pool of session musicians and vocalists, with Westerholt and Wessels at the helm. The pastoral but suggestive imagery of the cover is a glimpse of the powerful, often melancholic, often hugely uplifting music offered here. From the moment 'Sever' kicks off, the triumphant synths, the feeling of vastness and the quick acceleration to epic crescendos with Hietala's wails and the choirs, it is pretty clear Lucidity goes beyond Mother Earth or Enter in terms of Westerholdt's ambitions and concept. And as crowded as tracks like 'Sever' can get with their mix of unorthodox song structures and bold pop hooks, not to mention various guest vocalists, each song is yet compact and memorable. 'Daylight Lucidity', another Wessels-Hietala-choir mashup, presents a sort of sequel later in the album that helps keep the record's conceptual wholeness strong, after the series of pop songs and ballads/ semi-ballads and other guest appearances that separate the two.
Clear-cut radio tracks are present, with the singles 'Frozen' and 'The Gathering' offering karaoke-ready vocal lines in addition to their easy grooves and uplifting orchestral hits that make both very easy to play on repeat. The latter in particular, with Marco Hietala harmonizing on the chorus and providing the pre-chorus, is just a ridiculous earwig: all I have to do is think of the first line in the lyrics and I can remember pretty much the whole song - or at least that's been the case during all eight of the years since I first heard it. These songs have nothing to do with the vanilla radio rock songs on 2012's We Are the Others - despite the very shy bass sound, these are just punchy, vivacious cuts full of energy and attitude. Another single taken from the album, 'See Me in Shadow' is a memorable and utterly sophisticated ballad, giving both Liv Kristine and Wessels a series of sumptuous lines. Hearing Marco Hietala tear it up with Within Temptation siren Sharon den Adel on 'No Compliance' really is quite something; but aside from the amazing joint vocal performance, the song is a total highlight for its equally clever composition and lyrics, an engrossing, warm and imaginative cut that reinforces this album's quality every time I hear it - with a neat guitar solo to round things out.
Then you've got the star of the show as well. This really is a stunning debut for Wessels, and she outshines the likes of Cristina Scabbia and even Simone Simons easily. 'Shattered' is the track where Wessels really grabbed my attention the first time I heard this album, and all this time later its effect on me hasn't dampened one bit. Over the bombastic chugging guitars and meandering symphonies she supplies a truly terrific and show-stealing performance. 'Sleepwalker's Dream' is another all-time classic for the band comprised of noble symphonics and a majestically handled solo performance by Wessels, who moves effortlessly from low and suggestive verses to a stunning soprano pitch that provides one of Lucidity's absolute emotional highs.
Although Lucidity has probably more catchy moments than any other record by the band, it is also the darkest they've written, thanks to both the more complex, morose tunes and Wessels' most bittersweet, melancholic vocal performance. George Oosthoek's supporting growls on 'Silhouette of a Dancer' lock in nicely with Charlotte's lines and give the song's already tense beat a very gothic, Theatre of Tragedy-inspired velvety darkness, which the more monstrous closer 'Pristine' revisits with gusto. You've also got 'Day for Ghosts', which contains the strongest references to the aggressive power metal style often incorporated by bands like Nightwish and Epica, with a mix of brooding drama and outright anger projected by Marco and Liv, respectively. Although the guitars and especially bass could be a bit heavier and more defined in the mix compared to the synths, vocally and in terms of writing, this is in a whole different league to most gothic or ensemble metal albums.
Delain's brief history embodies a true comeback story if there ever was one. Westerholt, crippled by health problems and forced to leave Within Temptation, bides his time and accrues an enviable stockpile of material and holds out until he can assemble an appropriate ensemble of guest musicians. Other than Westerholt and Wessels, Lucidity is more of a collaborative effort rather than a prototypical release by Delain as we know them now. As such, something of a disconnect becomes apparent if you contrast much of this material to some of Delain's more straightforward, less experimental records like April Rain.
While the group's overarching style is still decidedly more streamlined and less overwhelming than other symphonic bands of this caliber like Sirenia and Nightwish, this actually ends up being one of Lucidity's greatest strengths. In terms of tempo and general arrangement, this often comes close to many of the more compact numbers on Century Child like "End of All Hope" and perhaps "Slaying the Dreamer." However, while Holopainen often overwhelms the sound and swallows up the rest of the band through his overuse of bombastic arrangements, Westerholt strikes a far more captivating equilibrium. While he exercises the tried-and-true utilization of orchestra hits syncopated with the rhythm backbone, nearly every keyboard melody is a true winner that normally only comes around once or twice an album for other acts. The protracted downtime that Westerholt was forced to navigate for the four years leading up to this album is best reflected here, as these arrangements exude a high level of attentiveness and class. The keyboards are never overwhelming and tread an enviable path around the sticky vocal melodies.
Despite the aforementioned collaborative status regarding Lucidity's lineup, Wessels still carries the lion's share of the material here. Her voice is smooth as silk and sweet as honey, albeit in a poppier mold than most symphonic metal acts. I would be lying if I called her the most technically impressive vocalist in her field, but she has an emotive delivery and is integrated seamlessly into the final formula. There are some moments of unbelievable brilliance, like the chorus of "Sleepwalker's Dream" and the verses of "Frozen," which rules divine in more ways than one. The latter is the obvious hit of the album, and that speaks a great deal toward it's embodiment as a mind-searingly memorable number. While Hietala normally tests my patience more than I would like, his sporadic contributions add a decent counterpoint to Wessel's stratospherically soaring input and elevate the chorus of "The Gathering" to yet another unseen high. The remaining guest contributions are less memorable than Wessels, but what isn't?
To round out the sound, Sluijter and Eikens step in to fill the void with their meaty delivery on the six-strings. While they naturally come off as something of an afterthought after digesting the melodic excess of the remaining performances, they don't necessarily detract from the proceedings at all. While leads are scarce, the solos are exceptionally well executed, especially the burning, melodic example on "Frozen." "Silhouette of a Dancer" opens with a fairly ballsy riff set, but quickly changes gears to better accentuates Delain's strengths, a pattern that repeats on more than one occasion here. This is the aspect that separates Delain from many of their sister acts, thrusting the whole ordeal into a more mainstream direction that could have been both a blessing and a curse at the time of Lucidity's release. With the unconventionally beautiful and charismatic Wessels alongside Westerholt's compositional mastery, you don't need me to tell you that they ended up figuring it out.
This album was my first real introduction to metal. I remember my father playing this on the way to school when I was 12. My first thoughts were: "Hey, this sounds like rock, but the riffs sound heavier, like thunder! This is pretty cool!". At the time, this album was one of my favourites to blast in the car as we were flying across the road. Even the rest of my family enjoyed it, particularly my father and younger sister. It just had that effect.
Nowadays I still listen to this album and I still treasure it just as much, albeit I've moved on to listen to other bands. I just can't get enough of the magical atmosphere produced by the combination of melodic synthesizers, catchy violin work, heavy riffs, and Charlotte's beautiful singing. One element I've noticed in the album (and this seems to be a trend in symphonic/gothic metal) is that the heavily distorted riffs are monotonous and repetitive, but the violins and synths completely make up for it with their catchy melodic beauty they send to your eardrums.
One song I particularly admire is "Frozen". I'm absolutely blown away by the energetic intro, the serious chorus, and slow, dreamy breakdown during the bridge. The guitar solo after the breakdown? Oh god, I love it all. It's just fantastic. I'm just going to take a guess and state that they really knew what they were doing during the writing of this song and album.
Don't lie, you're probably thinking "why does this have only have 85 and not 100 with all the praise you're shoving into this album?". Well, allow me to address that. My only problem with this album is that it just simply isn't metal enough. I love the fact that they have the extra gothic instrumentation, but sometimes they just overdo it. I mean, I'd like to hear the guitar a little more while they bring the extras down. Just a pinch. Also, It wouldn't hurt if they actually hit more than 1 note for their riffs. That would be nice.
All in all, this is a very decent album and I would easily recommend it to you. Of course, not everybody enjoys the same kind of metal, so opinions on this album may vary. That's fine. I would most likely recommend this album to people who like their metal to be laid back and formal and not overly violent, nor too mainstream. If you really like modern symphonic/gothic metal like this, then this album is right for you and should surely be a pleasurable listen.
Delain has by now become an almost household name when discussing Gothic Metal, and for good reason. This album gave the band a big breakthrough on the scene, and their follow-up “April Rain” only solidified their success. Delain reminds me a lot of a better Within Temptation (“Silent Force”), but with a few more metal elements.
Heavily symphonic, “Lucidity” was an instant classic with a lot of fans. It's easy to see why, as most of the elements that make this a good album for myself are also shared by many others. First up are the vocals of Charlotte Wessels, which are NOT operatic, but rather more natural sounding. There's a sense of ease and beauty in her voice (also similar to “Silent Force” -era Within Temptation) that sways listeners very easily. This isn't a band puffed up with pomp and virtuosity, but one that goes for the heart with potent and emotional songs. Marco Heitala's presence here is most likely to add the cliche'd “beauty and the beast” sort of balance that many Gothic Metal bands seem to need. Frankly, I've never been a great fan of Marco's vocals until “Dark Passion Play," so truth be told this particular part of the music doesn't do anything for me.
There's a few occurances of Death vocals here, but by and large this is a beautiful, touching, and emotional album. Not very interesting instrumentally, and fairly poppy, but you're already in the wrong genre if you're looking to avoid those elements anyways. I for one found the guitar lines to be extremely tame and boring, though they are reasonably heavy at times, and enough to add some atmosphere. The keyboards also spoil the listener with many lush chords and supportive notes, and are probably the second greatest musical feature of the band.
Lyrically, “Lucidity” is a pool of unoriginality, and not in an unpleasant way. There's some abstract themes and metaphors in the album that will attract Gothic Metal followers, while the beautiful and often eerie melodies appeal to a wide spread of music lovers, from Melodic and Power Metal fans (like myself) to fans of Modern Rock and Metalcore. While I wouldn't call it the epitome of Gothic Metal, Delain is one of the better acts that I've heard, and one of few Gothic Metal bands that remain in my playlist. Personally, I am not attracted overly to this album, but it is a great accomplishment for the genre and the band's musicians. Very good work indeed!
Originally written for www.metal-observer.com
Okay, I absolutely love this woman’s voice. Delain’s Charlotte Wessels lies comfortably atop many of her contemporaries that are all vying for the coveted soaring-operatic vocal. It’s overused, overhyped and flat out boring at this point. Wessels combats this with her easy style that seems to glide off her tongue and into the large air; she truly seems to be whispering loudly in such beautifully breathy sentences. Total fanboy worship aside, let’s get to Lucidity and see if it’s as good as it should be.
Lucidity is the band’s first full-length release that hosts a myriad of guest stars such as vocalists Sharon den Adel of Within Temptation and Liv Kristine of Leaves’ Eyes, and while I also enjoy both if those singers I seriously feel Wessels could have carried this load herself with little or no effort. Granted, the contributions of both den Adel and Kristine are wonderful here (“No Compliance” for den Adel and “See Me in Shadow” and “Day for Ghosts” for Kristine) but the true majesty of this album is both Wessel’s vocals and Delain’s incredibly resonating brand of power/symphonic metal in the gothic vein. The band is proving to be a major force in this genre and with very good reason. The music is heavy without overkill, haunting without artificiality and soaring without contrived elevation.
“Shattered” is an example of just how perfectly the music of gothic style should hit the system: hard hitting, but not consuming and sensual without the plasticity of mall-inspired shtick. This album mixes and matches the formula in so many beakers it’s not only refreshing but can be spoiling; after all, we can’t expect this kind of attention to be paid to every album that emerges from this style. This is all-encompassing music that can be bombastic, yet not overpowering to the emotional state of the listener. In other words, you can enjoy this CD without concern of being lulled into a comfort zone only to be blasted out of it by unnecessary, rudimentary instrumental efforts. “Sleepwalker’s Dream” slips into your head so easily and just sort of lies there in its ethereal beauty. I definitely feel it’s Wessels’ crowning glory on this album, calling on an Olivia Newton-John style that is both frighteningly accurate and delightfully enchanting. The only other vocalist I’ve heard issue such a lovely vocal was Elis’ late vocalist Sabine Dunser. The band compliments Wessels as much as she compliments it, a generous give-and-take between dedicated artists.
Martijn Westerholt’s vision of a simple studio band has taken on a whole new focus. The former Within Temptation keyboardist certainly has his W.T. influences intact throughout Lucidity, but the effort is all its own. Delain should never be relegated to a bastard son of Within Temptation and I don’t think it will. Already on its second release, April Rain issued last year to rave reviews, you’ll certainly be hearing about this band for some time.
(Originally written for www.MetalPsalter.com)
What a project this is! Who knew that melodies this wonderful were just waiting in a songbook somewhere in the possession of Martijn Westerholt, the former keyboardist for Within Temptation and a man plagued with a four year battle with Infectious Mononucleosis.
Delain has produced a hell of an album with Lucidity, something so melodic and magical in nature that it is guaranteed to spread calmness in even the most chaotic settings. With the help of metal stalwarts such as Marco Hietala (Tarot, Nightwish, Ex-Sinergy), Liv Kristine (Leave's Eyes, Ex-Theatre of Tragedy) and George Oosthoek (Ex-Orphanage), Westerholt and vocalist Charlotte Wessels have created one of the best gothic/symphonic metal album to come out in years. Wessels, an widely unknown vocalist herself before being drafted into the ranks of Delain, gives off a performance to remember. Her singing is as melodic and bright as can be, with a playful tone that gives this album a fantastically upbeat aura.
While his performance on Lucidity was only as a guest, Hietala stands out on a multitude of tracks, most notably The Gathering and Day for Ghosts(as a duet with guest vocalist Liv Kristine). We all new what he was capable of with his work as bassist/backing vocalist with Nightwish and Tarot, however Hietala has really outdone himself on Lucidity. He gives the album a rougher tone, something that was necessary to balance out the synth heavy music of Westerholt and bright vocal styling of Wessels. Not to be outdone by his vocals, Hietala also laid down the basslines for the album, doing an outstanding job as expected. George Oosthoek also chimes in with some well places and not overly brutal death metal vocals, primarily on the tracks Silhouette of a Dancer, Pristine, and Deep Frozen.
When it all boils down, Lucidity is just simple fun. Every track on the album has its perks and none really fall below the others. Day for Ghosts, Sleepwalker's Dream, and Shattered are probably the albums standout tracks, but they all showcase Westerholts days in Within Temptation as well as anything WT has put out recently. For anyone looking for some good old fashioned fun listening to something fresh, Delain is a great start.
Standout Tracks - Day for Ghosts, Sleepwalker's Dream, Shattered, The Gathering.
I was looking for some symphonic gothic metal when I recently discovered Delain. To start with I have nevertheless to say that I did not blunder on "Lucidity". Actually, the band has close ties with Within Temptation. Martijn Westerholt (I guess Robert Westerholt’s brother ?) was a member of Within Temptation before leaving this latest band to then found Delain.
Vocals (Charlotte Wessels) – probably the most charming vocals I ever heard : beautiful female voice, really enchanting and pretty warm. Listen to "Sever", "Frozen" and "Silhouette of a dancer" and let her voice enchanting your soul.
However if you are currently looking for some kind of operatic voice, you should rather continue on your way or listen to Epica. Charlotte Wessels voice is not operatic therefore I like it much more.
Other vocals - This album also features Sharon den Adel on track 4 "no compliance", Liv Kristine on track 10 "day for ghosts" (also with Marco Hietala from Nightwish and Tarot) singing as a duo on "see me in shadow" with Charlotte Wessels.
A good hint : "day for ghosts" which is currently my favorite gothic metal song (though you will miss Charlotte’s vocals).
They are also some good male vocals, mostly present on the closing track : "Deep frozen (with grunts)".
« I foster illusions
Of which I am afraid
Repel your embrace
I foster illusions
Of which I am afraid
afraid of your embrace »
With regard to clean vocals, I am not crazy about them but I still have to admit that it suits very well the music.
Guitars (Ronald Landa) – the guitar work is very good as well, introducing very good solos and heavy guitar riffs (i.e. : "Frozen"). But the best is definitely the huge guitar riff on "day for ghosts": a slight epic touch with a very cold sound. Not only is the guitar rhythm section excellent but the solo is more than decent as well.
Keyboards (Martijn Westerholt) – the keyboards are just excellent. Martijn takes over all orchestrations and huge atmospheres. Almost bombastic with an epic touch and some choir-like atmospheres like for instance "Pristine", "sever", "silhouette of a dancer". Korg, endorse this guy !
There are also good keyboard introductions. Give a listen to "Frozen", "No compliance" and "Sleepwalkers dream".
Bass (Rob van der Loo) – guess what ? We can hear the bass. No, I’m not kidding. The sound is really heavy and very congruent to the rest of the instruments. Not buried in a whole sound shambles.
Drums (Sander Zoer) – Nothing special to mention. The drums suit the rest of the instruments. Sander’s work is both heavy and variable. However, if you are rather crazy about a live sound, avoid ! This is a professional work.
Forget the lack of variety wasting some other gothic metal bands. Delain has much more to offer. They are well-rounded musicians and this album introduces a lot of different atmospheres and kinds of vocals (grunts, clean male vocals and beautiful female voice).
As expected for a gothic/symphonic metal band (and Dutch), the production is top-notch which is basically the most important point. No gripe !
Nothing special that is to be mentioned. Lyrics deal with pain, sorrow, yearning and love. Typical themes used in gothic metal but the lyrics remain still mature and quite congruent with the music.
The songs reach around 4 : 45 as a track length which is rather good. This leads to very good intros and variable song structures.
Be it as it may, "Lucidity" is a very strong album written by talented and mostly well-rounded musicians. Though the band does not exactly start out with "Lucidity", this orchestral/symphonic-tinged gothic metal album will remain as a genuine praiseworthy effort.
Outstanding tracks : Frozen/Deep Frozen (with grunts), Silhouette of a dancer, Day for ghosts, Sleepwalker’s dream.
Veel succes, Delain !