Friday, February 17, 2023

DELAIN: “Dark Waters”


Rating: RRRR
Label: Napalm Records
Review by Martien Koolen

Delain, the Dutch notorious symphonic female fronted metal band return with their seventh studio album “Dark Waters”. Delain features a new line up, as the band now consists of Martijn Westerholt (keyboards), Sander Zoer (drums), Ronald Landa (guitar, growls), Ludovico Cioffi (bas guitar, grunts) and Diana Leah (vocals). The sound of Delain, however, has not really changed as you can hear in the opening track “Hideaway Paradise”, being a huge song with lots of keys, synths, powerful guitars and strong pop musical elements. “The Quest And The Curse”, the first single of this album, is probably familiar already, as it was released 9 August 2022 and Diana’s beautiful voice really shines here! 

Paolo Ribaldini (Seraphiel) then makes his first guest appearance adding his throat to “Beneath”, the second single, again a brilliant song with a catchy chorus and excellent guitar melodies. “The Cold”, with choir, is a very cinematic track, while “Moth To A Flame” sounds like a quirky addictive earworm. Definite highlight of the album is: “Invictus”, the symphonic metal tour de force of Delain here, their magnum opus, featuring pounding drums, dramatic, emotional vocals by Leah, joined, again, by Ribaldini and by the vocals of Marko Hietala (ex-Nightwish). So, play that one very LOUD as it is an epic masterpiece indeed. 

“Dark Waters” includes the bonus track “The Quest And The Curse”, the piano only version, and here you can enjoy Leah’s voice as never before. “Dark Waters” is a wonderful album, besides the dreadful growls and grunts, with no fillers and they have a more than excellent new singer with Diana Leah in the fold. Check it out, not to be missed; listening tip “Invictus” !!!


Thursday, February 2, 2023


One album that has dominated my playlist is the new one from CROWNE, "Operation Phoenix" (RRRRr). I liked their first one but this one is even better - not a dull track in sight and a couple of definite highlights of this year! 

The songs are mostly written by Jona Tee (of H.E.A.T.) and Alexander Strandell (Art Nation), and I don't think these are leftovers from their main bands. If they are, then somebody is making strange decisions, as these are fantastic songs that would make any album stronger. 

Crowne is finding its' own voice somewhere between the two bands mentioned above, and I would add Jona Tee's metal project New Horizon to the equation too. 

My favourite tracks are the moment are the title track and "Super Trooper", which might make you think that it's an ABBA cover, but it's not. It does have a lot in common with Abba, it's a cleverly written and insanely catchy song.

So, last week I wrote about the new VV album and said that I wasn't sure how to rate it. I've played it a couple of times, and I think it deserves a RRRR rating. Sure, on the second half it starts to drag a little, with several slower songs in a row, but it's still a very enjoyable album. I like it more every time I play it, I seem to find something new each time. I even like the instrumental track "Zener Solitaire", very Twin Peaks-like.

Today I've enjoyed a day off, and I've been listening to a lot of music. Some FB posts have lead me to check out early eighties' material from HENRY PAUL. He's well-known as a member of country band BLACKHAWK and Southern Rockers THE OUTLAWS, but his two 80's albums "Anytime" (with Henry Paul Band) and self-titled solo album are very much in the AOR vein. On "Anytime" he collaborated with Jim Peterik of Survivor/Pride Of Lions fame. The title track of the album is an AOR diamond, check it out!