DELAIN - Dark Waters

March 3, 2023, 6 months ago


Nick Balazs

Rating: 6.5

review heavy metal delain

DELAIN - Dark Waters

Perhaps no act was facing more pressure this year than Delain. Climbing the ranks of symphonic metal acts throughout the past decade, a sudden change occurred with the whole band departing, leaving founder Martijn Westerholt as the last man standing. Slowly the pieces came back into place with former members Sander Zoer (drums) and guitarist Ronald Landa (guitarist) being welcomed back into the fold and newcomers Ludovico Cioffi enlisted for bass duties and finally and perhaps the most important component, Diana Leah at singer.

It’s important to get the new material right with a revamped lineup and a questioning audience, and Delain manages to stay afloat with Dark Waters. It’s safe, poppy, symphonic metal that lives and dies by the chorus. 

Westerholt has no problem letting Leah show off her vocal prowess as her voice is front and center along with his icy keys. Her voice is pleasant with bright tone and her melodies will make or break the compositions. Landa’s guitars keeps the rhythm and drops solid solos without becoming flashy. Cioffi’s bass and Zoer’s drumming is workmanlike while Zoer sometimes utilizes electric stylings.

“Moth To A Flame” is unabashedly dance pop metal while noticeably commercial opener “Hideaway Paradise” shows listeners what’s in store for this 50 minute journey. “Beneath”, featuring growler Paolo Ribaldini, sounds like a single Epica would put out while snowy choir work dazzles “The Cold”. 

Dark Waters take a musically adventurous turn with Marco Hietala of Nightwish fame guesting on “Invictus” as the guitars are more robust with striking vocal work, while “Underland” has a more progressive and heavy metal feel. Ribaldini also appears on “Queen Of Shadow” and his gritty attitude complements Leah’s serene presence.

Westerholt probably wanted to show he had the right lineup to lead Delain into the future as Dark Waters correctly utilizes Leah’s talents, which is why most of the songs contain a simple structure. Would like to see them branch out with more adventurous tunes (like “Invictus”, “Underland”, “Queen Of Shadow”) on future releases and maintain their status as a top tier symphonic metal act.

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