Review: Delain – 'Lunar Prelude' EP

After setting surprising standards with their previous studio release, The Human Contradiction (2014), Dutch symphonic sextet Delain are back with a new offering in the form of an EP entitled Lunar Prelude, set to be released on 19th February via Napalm Records. Their latest full-length studio album brought female-fronted and symphonic metal fans new tracks with pulsing guitars paired with a multitude of layers that created an entirely new dynamic.

At a glance, this eight-track release, mastered by Grammy-Award winning engineer Ted Jensen, might seem quite immense for a mere EP. However, Lunar Prelude exclusively features two fresh tracks; ‘Suckerpunch’, which was earlier released as a single and ‘Turn the Lights Out’. In addition we get an orchestral rendition of ‘Suckerpunch’ to end the EP. Clocking in at just over 37 minutes the release also revisits ‘Don’t Let Go’ (available as a bonus track on the deluxe edition of The Human Contradiction) and showcases live versions of ‘Lullaby’, ‘Stardust’, ‘Here Come the Vultures’ and ‘Army Of Dolls’.

It opens with ‘Suckerpunch’. Loaded with catchy hooks, alluring melodies and edgy riffs, courtesy of Timo Somers and relatively new addition Merel Bechtold, the song obtains and upholds the sound which manifested into The Human Contradiction. The track also incorporates background vocal ambiance, an element which is equally integrated in ‘Sing To Me’ from their foregoing album. However, Delain deliver a unique twist to the song from their usual style by utilising male backing vocals.

Following the upbeat fight song about “facing your demons and taking them on”, ‘Turn the Lights Out’, as the track title suggests, is more melodious with a vocal range in the same vein as ‘Scarlet’ (bonus track on their previous release). ‘Turn the Lights Out’ offers listeners with an equilibrium of heaviness and ethereal harmonies creating an uplifting impression. Notably, the heaviest section can be found in the bridge of the track with a grungy guitar riff that is sure to make you nod to the beat.

At first, you’d think the remastered version of ‘Don’t Let Go’ isn’t any different to the original. However, there are a few modifications. While the track maintains its industrial, electronic sound without going into cyber-goth/trance terrain, vocal effects have been stripped back to unveil a cleaner vocal line. The vocal line also appears to have been brought forward in addition to the lead guitar riff, supplied by Somers, sounds more prominent in the mix. But the most apparent contrast between the two versions is the intro build-up which has been reintroduced into choruses as an additional layer.

On the live front, the renditions just don’t seem to have the same sparkle as they do when you witness them in person. An example of this is ‘Stardust’, The live recording falls short of the bombastic sound heard with your own ears at one of Delain’s shows. That being said, the song choice for the live recordings is excellent with four cracking tracks from their current album.

Closing Lunar Prelude with an adaptation of ‘Suckerpunch’, the orchestral piece doesn’t reflect the whole song but delivers a smooth and somewhat lighter feel to the original. In place of the male backing vocals, the orchestral version heightens in intensity; this rendition would certainly be great filmscore material.

And finally, the alluring “lunar” cover artwork, designed by Glenn Arthur, lends itself to the EP title perfectly. His signature hummingbird, depicted in the artwork can also be seen on other Delain covers such as We Are The Others and Interlude.

Overall, Lunar Prelude centres mostly around The Human Contradiction and is something for the fans, but it also serves as an exemplary teaser for what can be expected from Delain’s next instalment.

Review: Naomi Rigley

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