Tag Archives: Delain

Sabaton? Eluveitie? Wisdom? Oh My…

Yes, I’m off to see a gig – entry-level image manipulation courtesy of Paint.Net

Hark at me with my beginner’s level image manipulation skills!  I’m off to see Sweden’s finest lovable Power Metal loons Sabaton at Sheffield’s Corporation tonight – I’ll probably be the guy in the Delain shirt.  Be sure and say “Hi!” – and their ready, willing and able tour mates Swiss Pagan Metal folks Eluveitie and Polish Trad Metal dudes Wisdom.

Expect a noisy time to be had by all and ear-plugs to be firmly stuffed in-ear by anybody over the age of 35 once things get going.  A report will be with soon, I imagine.

Two gigs in a week- surely some mistake?

 

 

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Fluffrick’s Half-Year Hitters

The best thing that Delain have done to date? I should say so…

Inspired by Angry Metal Guy’s list, and because everybody loves a top ten (no matter how arbitrary they end up being), here’s my selection of the best records in 2012 so far.   I can’t really say that anything which I’ve picked up has been a massive disappointment, and I’ve even found a band in the form of Diabulus In Musica who I totally adore and had never heard of before taking a chance on their second release.  Excellent returns from old-hands, convincing albums from established Euro Metal acts and cracking debut collections – you can’t say fairer than that from a year, can you?

1) Delain“We Are The Others”.  Clearly the best album this gifted Dutch symphonic metal quintet have released so far – as much for the ways that it diverts from the established musical template of that genre whilst still retaining their identity.  It’s the kind of record with enough diversity that your favourite song will change with each listening session – for me, the late-album track “Are You Done With Me?” is an alternate universe smash hit, but “I Want You” is also a genius slab of knowingly overwrought, sweeping metal balladry whose lyrics take a delicious, twisted about face in the last minute or two.

2) Luca Turilli‘s Rhapsody“Ascending to Infinity”.  Face-melting operatic insanity from the former Rhapsody of Fire guitarist.  The soundtrack to movies not yet made, with a lovely cover of the Alessandro Safina opera/pop crossover hit, “Luna”, which somehow perfectly fits in with the neo-classical influence and metal flourishes evident elsewhere.

3) Epica“Requiem for the Indifferent”.  Confident, seemingly effortlessly melodic symphonic goodness from Simone Simons and co – but with the underpinning, genuinely metallic riffing and musicianship which carves the band out a distinctive place of their own amidst the multitude of European bands playing in a similar musical field.  This is a record which I’ll be returning to repeatedly in the months to come, ahead of the band’s UK tour at the end of 2012.

4) Van Halen“A Different Kind of Truth”.  I was an early doubter of this legendarily fractious band’s ability to bounce back, record a record and tour it without something bad happening.  Thankfully, that doubt is more than eclipsed by the quality of this album – it might be a selection of reworked seventies cuts which never made it onto studio records first time around, but the end release is classic Van Halen.  End of debate, I guess.  The proof’s in the likes of “Blood and Fire”, “She’s The Woman” and “Stay Frosty” – all evidence that the VH you know and love still has it.

Another band I’m seeing live this year – I see a pattern forming…

5) Firewind – “Few Against Many”.  A departure from Firewind’s expected Power Metal sound, introducing 70’s hard rock influences into the mix and doing it without sacrificing the riffs and splendid solos that you want from guitar genius, Gus G.

6) SabatonCarolus Rex.  Sweden’s finest purveyors of fist-pumping, martial tunes about war and gubbins head way back into Swedish history for a tale of divine presumption, flawed military campaigns and good old-fashioned hubris married to some of the best tunes they’ve ever written.  All that and inter-band strife which led to the group splintering and taking on a new rhythm section and guitarists right as the record released.  For my money – currently £5.00 and coffee stamp card for the local java palace – “Lion From The North” is the best damn thing that they’ve recorded yet.  I look forward to seeing Joakim and co. pile drive it into the faces of the faithful at their Sheffield show in November…

7) Lacuna Coil“Dark Adrenaline”.  Many fans were split on the merits of Lacuna Coil’s fifth album, Shallow Life.  I wasn’t one of those who didn’t care for it (There’s some classic tunes on there – “I Won’t Tell You”, “Underdog”, “The Pain”) but I think that most fans will agree that Lacuna Coil’s 2012 record is a genuine monster of an album – not that these things count, but it’s been the highest charting release in their career in many countries.   Sleek, modern production makes the likes of “Against You” and “Tell Me Something More” sound impressively huge and expansive – a progressive and contemporary sounding record which skilfully integrates their electronic underpinnings with fantastic, gut-punching riffs and solos.  Modern Metal for the discerning?  I should say so.

8) Halestorm  –“The Strange Case Of…”.  I’m inclined to say that this is the closest thing that this list will get to provoking controversy, as in some corners this band is very much persona non grata – a radio-friendly US rock quartet led by noted spell-check confoundress, Lzzy Hale whose tunes have been tearing up US radio and sneaking into “Glee”, just for the hell of it.  There’s no doubt that they have their detractors, but I’m not one of them and I’m pretty sure that this record is a quantum jump forward from their debut album.

That wasn’t a terrible record by any sensible application of the term, but it pales in comparison to this record – go and listen to “American Boys” or “I Miss The Misery” and be hooked by the riffs, Lzzy’s voice – which goes from zero to ‘whisky-soaked, bar-room fight starting hellion’ in five seconds flat.    Not Metal, but bloody magnificent.

9) Diabulus in Musica“The Wanderer”.  This appallingly photogenic band of Spanish symphonic metallers are one of the few bands with the ‘beauty & the beast’ vocal divergence that I can get behind without feeling slightly as though I’m being growled and simpered at by a sugar-deprived Cookie Monster and his mate, Dame Olivia Von Divason.  The symphonic synths, galloping guitars and dark operatic vocals on “Ex Nihilo” make for some of my favourite tunes of the year – in fact, it may be my favourite trad metal song of 2012.  UK shows, please!

10) End of September – Self-titled.  One of the bands that I’ve discovered through a review in the UK’s “Power Play” rock magazine, and a genuinely nice surprise.  Hailing from Sweden and straddling the middle ground between Delain, contemporary Within Temptation and, say, Kamelot, End of September have a female vocalist in Elin Redin who doesn’t go for operatic flourishes but a soulful, distinctive and plaintive tone which serves the band excellently.  If you love your rock big, dramatic but not veering into the full-on metal attack of many groups in this top ten, End of September are a band that you’ll definitely want to listen out for.  Their single “Isolated” is a great indicator of their sound – if you like that, you’ll love their album.

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Delain “We Are The Others” track-by-track…

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Another week, another excuse to foist my dubious musical taste on you.  Or, in this case, a chance for you to hear Delain lead singer and cheery person Charlotte Wessels talk a bit about the band’s new record, “We Are The Others” before it comes out in June.

I reviewed their recent Sheffield gig and was very enamoured of the new stuff – it’s polished, catchy and a real step onward from April Rain“, the band’s sophomore release.

You can watch the first part of this track-by-track over at YouTube…

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Delain/Trillium/Halcyon Way at Corporation, Sheffield, 13/05/2012 – gig review

I love going to gigs but I don’t love the rather perverse reaction that I have to them – I can only describe it as being akin to having the kind of nerves you would have if you were actually on stage.  For the couple of hours before I go to see a show, there’s a distinct sense of my stomach doing loop-de-loops, my heart racing and all kinds of reactions which are back-to-front and just plain daft.  It would be great if I could just fold my arms, ignore the band and check my text messages as a few punters seem to enjoy doing, but I’m not of that mindset.

All of which preamble leads me to talk about going to see Delain, Trillium and  Halcyon Way at the Corporation in Sheffield on Sunday night.  A good time, you’ll be pleased to hear, was had by most.

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The Corporation is a small venue but it’s got atmosphere to spare and you get up close and personal with not only the bands but a wide variety of fascinating personalities.

Hence the comment about people and their mobiles – a trio of rock fans standing near me last night, who had presumably paid £13 or £14 to attend the show, did their very best to ignore the bands all night and were sharing regular texts, photos and FaceTweets.  If they’re that keen to have the bands not spoil their night, I’d be happy to go round to their flats and stand in front of them whilst they just play the CD, knock back pints of rubbish lager and occasionally stand on my checkerboard Vans.

The first band on last night were Georgia progressive metallists, Halcyon Way, who had the dubious honour of being odd men out in some respects.  Their sound – punchy, technical, intense and lyrically rather more bleak than the other bands on the bill – didn’t seem to go over brilliantly at first but their reception improved through their half-hour set.  I think that it’s a case of the audience not being familiar with the band rather than the band not being up to much – their Last.FM page lists reference points like Dream  Theatre and Slayer, which is somewhere near to how I’d describe them.  I was getting old school thrash alongside progressive solos and anthemic, fist in the air choruses.

Amanda Somerville, from Trillium. They’re quite ace.

Occupying the unenviable position of being the band before the headliners, Trillium might have been an unknown quantity to some in the crowd but I was more familiar with Amanda Somerville’s metal project as she’s worked with Fluffrick approved bands like  EpicaKamelot and my beloved Avantasia (their tune, “The Story Ain’t Over” is one of my very favourite songs).

I’ve heard some of the Trillium album and it didn’t really win me over too much but the live performance of the songs was a revelation – so much so that I’ll be picking up the record and giving it my full attention, as Somerville’s the kind of vocalist who really should be a massive star.  Simply put, she owns the stage and commands your attention for every second of Trillium’s set – she’s a proper, honest to goodness rock star whose work should be in your collection if you love European flavoured rock and metal, albeit with a distinctive soulful edge which sets her apart from the symphonic bands who think that having a female vocalist is akin to doing fifty percent of the work.

My favourite song from Trillium proper was “Purge” although my favourite song of the set was “Set Afire” from the Kiske/Somerville collaboration – though the band was properly on fire by the time that “Bow to the Ego”, “Path of Least Resistance” and “Coward” rounded out the set with Somerville’s R&B/Soul influences taking flight and ending their show on a roof-obliterating high note.

The only name which does Amanda Somerville justice is ‘Valkyrie’.  I like to think that any passing Vikings who happened upon Trillium’s set on Sunday night would have seen a kindred spirit.

After some more setting-up, gusts of experimental dry ice and the venue filling up a little more with an intriguing varied selection of punters – Hey, bloke who looks like he shops at the (hypothetical) Jeremy Clarkson collection at M&S!  Hi, dude in well-weathered Sisters of Mercy shirt! – Delain‘s intro tape started and the lights took their sweet time about dropping down.

Image of Delain’s Charlotte Wessels via some internet ninja action.

This tour has been all about introducing the band’s third album to fans after a protracted, business-related delay in getting it released and with the internet being the delivery system that is, a great many fans were word-perfect with songs which don’t properly hit streets until early June, a fact acknowledged by Charlotte between songs as she noted that we could hear the new songs first on YouTube or at the gig tonight.

Happily, the new stuff is ace.  You might have heard recent single “Get the Devil Out Of Me” wherever good music is heard:

Delain – Get The Devil Out Of Me

It’s a good indicator of where this third album is going – tighter, focussed lyrics and with tons of symphonic melody, huge metal riffs and Ms Wessels’ distinctive voice somehow meeting brilliantly in the middle and making perfect musical sense.  I hate to use them as an example of a rock/metal band that you could introduce to non-metal fans who think that the genre’s just noise but the fact is that Delain manage to be accessible to both the rock-phobic and the die-hard headbanger alike.

We had a satisfying mix of stuff from the first album – “The Gathering”, one of my favourite Delain tunes, was the last song of the night, so I left the venue smiling – “April Rain” and June’s “We Are The Others”.  I was particularly taken with new, Facebook/social media-inspired “Generation Me” (did the trio of phone-addicted kids in front of me have an ironic twinge at any point during that song, I wonder) and the older “Virtue and Vice”, whose male harsh vocal bridge was gleefully undercut by Charlotte bouncing up and down and grinning like a metal diva exercise instructor at the same time.

It’s the little things, you know.

I loved Delain, let’s be honest – like Trillium, they’re a band who gain so much from the live experience that you owe it to yourself to see them if they come to your town.  I would venture that fans of hyper-glum Black Metal might beg to differ but Delain were one of the best bands that I’ve seen in a long while.  Admittedly, they are totally up my street being Dutch, unapologetically tuneful and ever so slightly nerdy (I’ve been listening to Delain on a loop as I read Markus Heitz’s “The Dwarves” – full disclosure), but don’t let my cheerleading put you off.

Melody, metal and foot-long grins on every one’s face – that’s the Delain experience for you.

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Support your scene!

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I was reading a fun post over at Electric Eye today which got me to thinking about music scenes and the ways we can support new bands at the earliest stage of their career.

It’s always tempting to go and see bands who are further up the chain – see the poster above, for the Delain/Trillium/Halcyon Way show that I’ll be going to on Sunday night – but what about bands who aren’t at the festival/releasing albums/career musician stage that Delain are at?  In this age of non-existent record sales, established labels being shut down by corporate parents and a worrying sense that rock is being marginalised ever further, shouldn’t we as music fans be taking a leaf from the punk and hardcore scenes are supporting our bands in a direct way?

I apologise if you’re reading this and I’m teaching you to suck eggs – I know that a great many music fans are already all too cognizant that it’s more difficult than ever for bands to build a career and make a living from playing music and are doing their part to directly support the music that they love.  It’s the other guys that I’m talking to.

And I recognize that it’s very easy for me to blog about this stuff and then do nothing myself to try to make a difference.  To which end – I propose a strategy, a plan for moving forward, if you will?

Every time that I go to see a more established band from now on, I’m going to try to balance that reasonably easy option out by going to see unsigned and local bands who really do need the support at this nascent stage.

Manchester Dark Melodic Power Metallists, Gone Til Winter

To which end, meet the first band that I intend to go and see live – Manchester’s Gone Til Winter, who are due to play at the Dove & Rainbow in Sheffield on Friday 11th May with Awaker in support.  I’ve been listening to and enjoying their stuff after seeing them linked on Spotify.   Their website, linked above, has an embedded music player so that you can make up your own mind.

That’s the plan – it will get me out to more gigs and I now have an excuse to plant myself directly in front of bass players and get a sense of what they’re doing in a live situation.  Win-Win!

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Delain’s “We Are The Others” gets a release date, finally.

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After being embroiled in that old chestnut, record company politics, Dutch Symphonic Rockmeisters Delain are set to release their third album, “We Are The Others” on June 4th in the UK, with a release in Benelux and Germany slated for 1st June.  The first single, “Get The Devil Out Of Me”, is out in April (live versions are around on YouTube if you care to take a look…).

This is clearly good news if you’re a fan – symphonic metal of all stripes is pretty much my nerdy brand of catnip – and the story behind it is supremely frustrating as it illustrates why so many people won’t be sad to see the major record companies chomp the dismal dust – record company A buys smaller record company B and fires people, restructures the business and bands get caught in the middle, with their record ready to go and no ability to release it until wholly irrelevant business stuff is resolved.

Still, it appears that Delain can get on with releasing their record – frustratingly after their UK tour (which I’m going to) has finished.  Not knowing the songs didn’t make seeing Lacuna Coil any less enjoyable, so I’ll just have to do some YouTube detective work…

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Delain – new album chat online…

Delain. Dutch as a very Dutch thing. Which is high praise in my book.

Dutch symphonic metallurgists Delain have a new album – “We Are The Others” – waiting in the wings for release later this year and have a UK tour lined up in the spring, with a Sheffield date pencilled in to boot.

It’s almost as if they want me to go, isn’t it?

Delain’s front woman Charlotte Wessels has chatted with Metal Hammer’s website about the album and about the part that the late Sophie Lancaster played in inspiring the record’s subject matter.

Sophie Lancaster, killed because she dressed differently.

If you’re not familiar with Sophie’s name, you should probably check out the Sophie Lancaster Foundation’s website and get a sense of why her name and the tragic events which took her life are such an emotional subject for fans of metal, alternative and rock music.  I’m not sure that the anti-chav sentiment which enters any conversation about the late Ms Lancaster helps much, but I can appreciate why people feel that way.

Back to Delain, then – surprisingly, there’s no evidence whatsoever that this cheery band of Dutch symphonic melodicists have added a Blackened Metal aspect to their sound, nor are there any Dubstep-inspired bass drops to be heard anywhere –  funny, that.

From the snippets heard in the video, the chunky riffs are still there, everything’s reassuringly unfashionable and European and that’s more than good enough for me.

 

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