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Tranquil Gothic Beauty - 75%

JudasX, February 12th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2006, CD, Roadrunner Records

Delain has really made a name of themselves since their debut album, opening for Kamelot on a multitude of occasions, actually having a couple headlining tours behind their belt, and even having a sold-out anniversary show. And it all started when Martijn left Within Temptation and it really is bizarre because he wound up making pretty much a Within Temptation clone! This gothic symphonic metal style was all over WT when he left and he might have been the best writing aspect behind it because this album really does have a lot of highlights! While not being perfect though...

First off I feel I should mention I got on the Delain hype train right when they started to get traction with We Are The Others so I was only aware of the hits off of their early albums and a few ear-catching songs, so the only songs off of here I know going in are the hauntingly beautiful Frozen, and the grander and more epic tracks A Day For Ghosts, Sleepwalkers Dream, and The Gathering.

Now this album is by no means perfect, but there are perfect aspects of it, Martijn knows atmosphere and uses his keys accordingly and works wonderfully at creating pothic gymphonic metal music, for the most part, Charlotte Wessels' voice is absolutely transcendent on everything she does, and them including Marco Hietala on this was a stroke of genius! His yowls and gravely voice works just as well here as it does with Nightwish, being an amazing contrast to Charlotte's crooning and soothing voice, now don't get me wrong, her voice is powerful as hell! It's just very subdued and haunting more than anything on this one and its entirely in a good way, marking an interesting and unique feeling with this album compared to its future predecessors. She really shines on Frozen, Shattered, The Gathering, Daylight Lucidity, and Sleepwalker's Dream. Where Marco stands out and shines pretty much on every track he is on, giving his all 200%. But the vocals do have two other aspects to them here. 1. There are two other female leads on here. 2.There are some of the most out of place, unoriginal, and awkward growls on this album I've ever heard. Charlotte holds the reins for the most part but, ironically, Sharon Den Adel shows up here from WT and kind of an out of nowhere choice Liv Kristine, back then of Leaves' Eyes.

Moving past the vocals there isn't a ton to talk about really, there are some really stellar tracks, with the heavier A Day For Ghosts, Sleepwalker's Dream, and Daylight Lucidity working phenomenally and standing out among the slower paced ones and doing the heavy symphonic feel way better than the actually terrible Silhouette of a Dancer and Pristine, which if didn't have growls would be just boring. The more gothic and beautiful standouts for me are by far, The Gathering, Frozen, and No Compliance, both styles focusing way more on sweeping and grand symphonic stylings than outright heavy metal with the guitar often times taking a slight backseat, alongside almost always stellar key segments in front of the orchestrations and I'd have to say the best track of both styles is a very close tie between Sleepwalker's Dream and No Compliance. Seriously Sharon Den Adel holds her ground giving a beautiful and emotional performance here.

If I'd have to twist my own arm there are a few duds even beauty wise here, past Pristine and Silhouette being awful, See Me In Shadow, Sever, and yes, even though it has stellar vocals, Shattered along with the aforementioned aren't bad, just boring honestly. And the opera style singing Liv does here and there on A Day For Ghosts feels out of place.

But summing it all up the good outweighs the bad by a long shot showing the amazing talent yet to come! Gothic and Symphonic metal bands could really learn from the good tracks on here since this is just their debut! While not a knockout Martijn really does know what he's doing and on his own shows, he needed to get a few kinks out. This albums hits will stay in my mind even though the bad and boring tracks leave a bad taste in my mouth I'll definitely be revisiting this album sometime soon again!

BUT WHY DID THEY HAVE TO RUIN FROZEN BY MAKING DEEP FROZEN A SHITTY REWRITE WITH GROWLS!? It'd be a solid 80 if not for the fact that they decided to unnessecarily add this as a bonus track! It's pretty jarring to end the album with two awkward Amorphis wannabe tracks..