By Carl Begai
There was a time when the most interesting aspect of Dutch symphonic rockers Delain was that they’d taken their name from the Stephen King fantasy novel, The Eyes Of The Dragon. That isn’t to say the band had nothing to offer when they surfaced in 2006, but as a female fronted act following in the wake of fellow Dutch artists The Gathering, Within Temptation, After Forever and Epica, Delain was a tiny “So what?” blip on the metal public’s radar in comparison. In 2012 the band was in danger of being crushed by label issues surrounding the release of We Are The Others, but 2014 saw their fortunes change for the better with an unexpectedly brilliant record, The Human Contradiction. A heavier sound, out-of-the-box songwriting, a new record label, and several international touring opportunities shoved Delain towards the top of the heap, doing wonders for their credibility.
Their push to the front of line continues with the release of the Lunar Prelude EP, issued the same day as the beginning of their new North American support tour with Nightwish (February 19th).
“It was a combination of things coming together,” says keyboardist Martijn Westerholt with regards to The Human Contradiction’s success. “When we did We Are The Others, Roadrunner Records was sold and died so we suffered a lot from that. We didn’t do a lot of promo, there weren’t a lot of tour offers, so it was kind of like the chicken and the egg scenario. For The Human Contradiction we worked with a different production team, we did more on our own, and that was very liberating. I won’t say The Human Contradiction was better or worse than We Are The Others because from an artist’s perspective that’s like choosing between your kids. We learned a lot from producer Jacob Hellner and his team, and we had great tour offers from Within Temptation, Sabaton, and later on with Nightwish. Everything came together and we were able to present our new stuff to so many people, and they liked it.”
It’s easy to credit the addition of guest vocalists Alissa White-Gluz (Arch Enemy), Marco Hietala (Nightwish) and George Oosthoek (ex-Orphanage) on The Human Contradiction as the push Delain needed, but even without the extra ammo the album would come off as far superior to anything the band has released previously. Short and sweet (by today’s standards), and not a lot of showboating clutter to bog things down.
“It was a no nonsense record, yes,” Westerholt agrees. “As I said, we felt very liberated because of what happened with Roadrunner, so maybe that influenced the quality of the music. It’s difficult for me to say because I’m in the band.”
The tour offers Delain received and ultimately accepted – all of them high profile outings – were effective in selling them as being much more than an uninspired copycat band. Particularly in the case of supporting Sabaton, which put Delain in uncharted and potentially abusive waters.
“We were very spoiled,” Westerholt laughs when presented with the rather impressive tour partner recap. “In the context of the bands we supported it was fantastic. Sabaton is a fantastic band and they’re wonderful people, so on a musician level and a personal level I had the most fun ever on with those guys. I’ve been in this business for 20 years so that says something. When it comes to Delain playing for the Sabaton crowd, that was really good for us because it was a very different crowd from our own. If you choose safely, as we did with Within Temptation and Nightwish, of course their fans are more open to our music. On the other hand, you will reach fewer new people so it’s a blessing and a curse. With Sabaton we had to work much harder to convince people, and I really did notice during the headline tour we did last fall that there were a lot of fans from the Sabaton tour in the crowd. We succeeded in breaking some boundaries so I’m really grateful for the Sabaton tour. But you’re right, it’s difficult. There were some critical crowds and we really had to convince them.”
“It also says something about Sabaton,” he adds, “because they’re very confident about their own stuff and clearly not intimidated by anyone playing before them. We just tried a similar thing with a Dutch band called The Charm The Fury supporting us. They have more of a metalcore sound with a female vocalist doing the growls, and our crowd really had to adjust they’re thinking from ‘What the hell is this..?’ (laughs). I think they succeeded, so it was kind of a similar situation.”
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