Delain - April Rain
Sensory Records
Gothic Pop Metal
12 songs (50'13")
Release year: 2009
Sensory Records
Reviewed by Alex

My car stereo and every other music listening device in my household are my witnesses, I really tried to like this record. Thinking that my skin must have gotten a little too thick for the mellower shades of metal, I gave Delain’s April Rain to a friend of mine who is much more in tune with all things Nightwish and Within Temptation and can spot quality in a female fronted gothic band. Upon my lukewarm introduction he was skeptical, but when the CD was returned I felt a lot more enthusiasm. Sure enough I tried some more. “Symphonic Gothic Metal Album of 2009”, “debuted at #14 in Dutch Top 100” – yet I remained completely unmoved. Someone here must know a lot more than I do. Thus, here comes the standard “it isn’t the album, it is me” routine, but since I hold the authorship privilege on these pages, you have got to put up with the following assessment.

For once, I could never get over the similarity in song structures on April Rain. I counted at least six songs, April Rain itself, Stay Forever, Invidia, Go Away, Lost and Nothing Left following an almost identical storyline. Introduce main melody, slam and crunch some overdriven guitar/bass/drum combination to make it feel “heavy”, quiet things down and let female enchantress Charlotte Wessels take over while supporting her lightly with background melodic keyboard until the chorus kicks in. Throw in a solo (Stay Forever, Lost) in spots. This is the biggest cookie cutter if there ever was one, thus the title pop-metal is a lot more befitting to this album. Beset with the pattern, all you have to do now is tweak the moods/melodies slightly to differentiate the tracks. The title song is watery, Stay Forever is more dramatic, Go Away is catchy, Lost chugs more than others. I suppose if you embrace the overall Delain model somehow, it is this predictability which will provide comfort, but as soon as I gave myself the word I am really going to welcome the next cut, it fizzled and blew its load after the first chords rolled in.

Martijn Westerholt, former keyboardist of Within Temptation, was dealt a nasty card in Pfeiffer's disease, better known as infectious mononucleosis. I knew a college hockey player who suffered from it for a year, but Martijn had it especially tough and his Within Temptation gig was cut short as a result. It is very commendable then, that he didn’t give up and gave birth to Delain, but it seems that his goal of broad audience appeal and widespread radio-play did not make a fan out of me. His band is rather capable, but they really do not have to strain themselves to play this mélange. His frontlady Charlotte Wessels is quite talented and does not have to rely on the black lace outfit or the mane of red hair to impress. With all due respect to the cleanliness of her voice, however, I never got captivated by the emotion. Mr. Marco “I will sing a duet with just about anybody who is pretty” Hietala contributes his vocals on a couple of tracks, but the pair never really does a full blown duet, in a true meaning of this word, where Charlotte and Marco sing together. Instead, Control the Storm and Nothing Left have alternating female/male lines, which probably makes it easier for Delain live performances when anybody male on the team can step in Mr. Hietala’s place. And live performances Delain is obviously after as this is as commercial as it gets.

Another would have been interesting moment was the invitation of a world known Korean American cellist Maria Ahn to lend her instrument to the fray. Her cello could have been that baritone vs. Charlotte’s soprano on Virtue and Vice and On the Other Side, yet production/mixing inexplicably does not afford Maria enough room.

This is complete speculation, but it feels that Sensory licensing April Rain from Roadrunner is a business decision. Ninety percent of the time, I at least can get on the same wavelength with any Sensory act, but maybe this time the label was looking for its own Nightwish or Lacuna Coil. Within Temptation gave another offshoot with former drummer Ivar De Graaf organizing Kingfisher Sky, also on Sensory and also fronted by a female, and between Kingfisher Sky and Delain, I prefer the former by a mile. It is not that Delain invokes any negative feelings of mine, but listening to it is like chewing grass, you can chew all you want, yet it is still does not taste anything and in the end leaves you hungry. I will be doing my friend a favor by gifting this CD to him, at least he enjoyed it more fully.

Killing Songs :
Control the Storm, Go Away
Alex quoted 60 / 100
Other albums by Delain that we have reviewed:
Delain - The Human Contradiction reviewed by Joel and quoted 82 / 100
Delain - We Are The Others reviewed by Andy and quoted 60 / 100
Delain - Lucidity reviewed by Vrechek and quoted 40 / 100
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