When a band releases a live album, I always have to weigh whether or not to review it. Some live albums are just fan pleasers and don’t really offer anything new or unique, especially something that would spark words for review. Some live albums offer something more, though. Delain’s “Hunter’s Moon” is releasing the 22nd of February, and it turns out that it is a live album worth reviewing.
Delain hails from the Netherlands originally. The line up consists of Charlotte Wessels (vocals), Martijn Westerholt (keys), Otto Schimmelpenninck van der Oije (bass), Joey Marin de Boer (drums), Timo Somers (guitar), and Merel Bechtold (guitar). The band plays symphonic metal, but I would note that there are significant influences from both pop music as well as industrial. Their music feels melodic, but with a darker, more mysterious bent to it.
Yes, “Hunter’s Moon” is a live album. When they first started marketing this release, it wasn’t readily apparent that this was a live offering, rather than a studio album, at least to my eyes. The mix up, I think, came from the fact that there are indeed four new studio songs on the album, too. So, this release is more like an EP with a live album thrown in for good measure.
“Masters of Destiny” is the single that somewhat confused me on the nature of this release. Honestly, it is one of my favorite songs of the year thus far. I love the lumbering riffs, the huge harmonious chorus, and the soaring keyboard/guitar interplay near the end. It is so epic.
Now, I honestly wondered how the three other songs could possible compare to “Masters of Destiny”, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that they are on par or even better! “Hunter’s Moon”, the title track, has a bit of death metal to the vocals, and it’s all the better for it. I would even say that this song is more technical than Delain normally offers, almost djenty at points, and the harsh vox combine with the central melody to make a real and unique sound that feels amazing.
“The Silence Is Mine” is a short track, clocking in at 2:37. Yes, that’s pretty brief. However, it sounds amazing with the rolling waves of keyboard melodies and the darker sound to the vocals. “Art Kills” might be my favorite of the new songs, though. It has an electronic overlay that really elevates it, giving it something of an industrial sound; and the harsh vox almost feel a little like metalcore, but the song as a whole really works well. All of the new songs have catchy choruses and well-crafted melodies. I’m honestly glad that they released what they had instead of trying to create filler songs to force a full studio album.
The rest of this album is filled with songs that fans will know and love. The mix and the theatrical nature of the live tracks makes them worth a few listens. There are many guests that show up, as well, and it’s an all-around good ride. I would even say that some of them are better than the studio versions. “Your Body Is a Battleground” and “Sing to Me” are my two favorites since I’m a big fan of “The Human Contradiction”. I suspect that is how most fans will be. Their favorites will simply be the songs that are already their favorites on the studio albums.
Overall, Delain has a smart release on their hands, and the new songs are all winners. I’m happy to see them producing such quality music, and knowing when to hold back and restrain themselves. That shows maturity, and Napalm Records is lucky to have them.
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