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Symphonic Radio Friendly Metal - 82%

TheStormIRide, August 23rd, 2012

Dutch symphonic metallers Delain return to the fold with “We are the Others”, their first album in three years. Metal heads that follow symphonic gothic metal, or whatever niche you want to cram the styles of Lacuna Coil or Within Temptation into, should no doubt be aware of the connection between Delain and Within Temptation. Martijn Westerholt was the former keyboard player for W.T. and his brother, Robert, still plays guitars for W.T. It should be no surprise, then, that Delain would follow suit and muddle about in the same gothic inspired symphonic metal realms.

“We are the Others” is Delain's third full length, among a bevy of single releases, much the same modus operandi of contemporaries. Thankfully, Delain manages to avoid many of the pitfalls that other symphonic styled bands tend to fall into, including beauty and the beast vocals, opera singers and cheesy overblown orchestrations. What you get is a pretty straight forward symphonic metal album that borders on modern alternative or pop metal at times.

The music is centered around the melodic, breathy vocals of Charlotte Wessels, and rightfully so, as her performance is stellar on this album. Opting for a standard “singer” rather than an operatic wailer, Delain manages to stay firmly rooted in the realms of metal while branching into the dreaded realms of radio accessibility. Charlotte's voice is a standard mid range, not unlike Cristina Scabbia of Lacuna Coil, only more melodious. During slower parts, the breathy vocalizations sound surprisingly similar to that of trip hop act Portishead. The only portion that dares into the dreaded male versus female style is “Where is the Blood” which features Burton C. Bell of Fear Factory fame, a pretty big name in metal. Unfortunately, his performance is utterly forgettable, sounding more like barking than singing.

The guitars sound eerily similar to Linkin Park's early work or the style heard on Lacuna Coil's “Karmacode”. The guitars are crunchy and slightly distorted, but most of the riffs feel watered down. The bass trolls along, with the same poppy, bouncy feel as many nu metal acts, steadily following the guitar lines. The guitars do get heavier at times, and border on groove metal riffing, but even the heavier sections have a poppy quality to them, lending even more of a nu metal feel to the bass and guitar duo. The drums aren't crushingly heavy, but they are played with enough force to stand out at times. The drummer plays a rather standard rock beat throughout the album, but does manage to stay away from the bouncy nu metal feel with his playing.

The keyboards and orchestrations are consistent on this album, meaning, there are very few moments that don't include the pair. For the most part, the keys blast away with a choral style, similar to Sabaton, but a little less in the forefront. Several sections show the keys doing KMFDM styled, poppy industrial lines. The keys work best during the piano influenced sections, which, thankfully, occur quite frequently. Even while the keys are going along with their lines, a subtle orchestral line floats in the background. The keyboard and orchestral style is, not surprisingly, similar to that of Within Temptation.

When all elements are combined, you have a pretty solid gothic / symphonic base with alternative and nu metal leanings. “We are the Others” is a surprisingly enjoyable listen, especially with all of the radio accessibility Delain is toying with. Symphonic metal bordering on alternative or pop metal is the order of the day. Unlike many of their contemporaries, Delain managed to avoid the trap of overbearing operatic vocals and even avoided the ever-so-annoying beauty and the beast screaming male vocals. Hopefully Delain can get some airplay with this release. “We are the Others” not only shows Delain on top of their game, it shows them on top the entire genre. Recommended to fans of symphonic metal not afraid to find a little pop.