HUNTER’S MOON [EP]
Release: February 22, 2019
Delain blew themselves, and most symphonic metal acts, out of the water earlier this year when they released the video for “Masters of Destiny” from their brand new EP “Hunter’s Moon” (out February 22, on Napalm Records). Expectations had all of a sudden skyrocketed regarding new music from this class act Dutch symphonic metal band. However, this EP, beside 4 new tracks, also feature some live cuts from their 2017 “Danse Macabre” tour in Utrecht alongside guest vocalist Marco Hietala, making for a rather interesting release. Besides, this EP closes their Moon trilogy, which also includes the EP “Lunar Prelude” (February 2016) and the full length album “Moonbathers” (August 2016).
Either you see it as a live album with some new songs on it, or as an EP that features a bonus concert, the fact of the matter is that “Hunter’s Moon” is a very good release. The new songs are rocking and a step above what Delain have previously released, and the live tracks showcase how well they sound live. But then again, those of you who have seen them live, or have got the DVD “A Decade of Delain: Live at Paradiso” (October 2017) already know this. However, what makes this release even more special is the fact that the live tracks are, for the most part, not the usual stuff they play live, not the mention having Marco Hietala of Nightwish joining in the fun and dueting with Charlotte Wessels.
Masters of destiny
This silence is mine
Live in Utrecht:
Hands of gold (ft. George Oosthoek)
Your body is a battleground (ft. Marco Hietala)
Nothing left (ft. Marco Hietala)
Control the storm (ft. Marco Hietala)
Sing to me (ft. Marco Hietala)
Scandal (ft. Marco Hietala)
The gathering (ft. Marco Hietala)
Starting off on gentle vocalization and atmospheric backing orchestration, “Masters of Destiny” seems to be another typical Delain song, with some poppish elements, until the chorus kicks in full force and steers it in a totally different, more symphonic and bombastic, direction. In between the hefty guitar riffs, the cinematic keyboard soundscapes and the larger-than-life chorus, this is definitely one of the best songs of the year. I have to admit this might just be the best I have heard from Charlotte (and Delain) since I started listening to them around 2010. This song really highlights her wonderful vocals, and how well she can transition between softer vocal melodies and more aggressive and powerful parts, but also just how tight and talented this band is. Next up is the incredibly stunning and atmospheric title track “Hunter’s Moon” which flows between harsher parts, with death metal-like vocals from guitarist Timo Somers, and breezy instrumental, where Charlotte sweeps in and steals the show with her angelic vocals. As always the back and forth between clean and harsh vocals adds more dynamism and edge to the song, while the catchy chorus is ideal for sing-alongs. I really like it when a song goes between these two extremes, instead of being linear, and “Hunter’s Moon” is definitely my favorite track on this EP.
The short but not-so-sweet “The silence is mine” (by Timo Somers) has a nice overlap of heavy guitar riffs, from the talented duo Merel Bechtold and Timo Somers, and gentle piano parts from Martijn Westerholt, a borderline acoustic vocal part, and an absolutely killer guitar melody and solo, all melded into one cohesive piece of music, making me wish it was longer than 2 minutes and 38 seconds. The electro infused “Art kills” (by Merel Bechtold) shows off yet another creative side of Delain (kind of like “Sukerpunch” from “Lunar Prelude”), while retained a really sharp metal edge, with the usage of some harsh vocals, a rumbling bass line, and just amazing guitar work. However, I am not sure this one really is on par with the first 3 tracks, but then again it may just be my tastes and affinities at play here.
Overall these four songs are really melodic and but with a rather dark and gloomy vibe about them, especially lyric-wise. The melodies are really well crafted, and the build-up in intensity is well done throughout. It may be just me but Delain have found the sound that not only works best for them, but also sets them apart from the rest of the symphonic (female-fronted) metal bands, making them a force to the reckoned with. Hopefully they will continue down this path.
The second part of the EP (tracks 5-14) is from their concert in Utrecht, during the “Danse Macabre” tour, and is a mix of fan favorites (“Sing to me”, “The gathering” or “Hands of gold”) but also some songs that are not played live that much (“Scarlet”, “Control the storm” or “Nothing left”). I have to admit that I was looking forward to hearing some of these songs live, as the duet with Marco Hietala on “Control the storm” made me become a fan of the band in the first place, and it was a real treat seeing the band evolve, as they have. Also, Marco’s vocals sound better, very resounding and roaring, as he’s showing a different side of his voice than what he normally does in Nightwish, while complementing Charlotte’s voice superbly. Probably the best surprise here is their live performance of Queen’s “Scandal” with Marco and Charlotte sharing the vocal duties. Besides, some of these songs, like “Your body is a battleground” or the haunting rendition of “Scarlet”, sound much better live than the studio version, while some songs are extremely fun to sing along to. Reasons galore to purchase the Blu-ray and enjoy this performance.
“Hunter’s Moon” is a rather clever release, as it shows Delain’s chops both in the studio and onstage, and a real treat for the fans. It’s really the best of both worlds. Based on the new songs on display here (especially “Masters of Destiny” and “Hunter’s Moon”), I am really looking forward to their next album, set for release later this year.
Rating: 4.5 / 5
Charlotte Wessels – lead vocals
Timo Somers – lead guitar, backing vocals
Merel Bechtold – rhythm guitar
Martijn Westerholt – keyboards
Otto Schimmelpenninck van der Oije – bass
Joey de Boer – drums