By Carl Begai
Cluttered as the metal scene is with female-fronted symphonic metal bands, news that Delain has a new slab of metal to offer isn’t likely to burn up the hype lines. Not until word on The Human Contradiction truly gets out. The fact they’re Dutch doesn’t help matters given their Netherlands is home to much bigger names of the genre such as Epica, Within Temptation, and former After Forever vocalist Floor Jansen who went off to join a little band called Nightwish. As vocalist Charlotte Wessels puts it, however, Delain is a very stubborn band, and although they’ve been on the bottom end of the ladder since their 2006 debut, Lucidity, it hasn’t discouraged them from pushing forward. The Human Contradiction marks their biggest step thus far, up and over the metal microscope and those ready to dismiss Delain without even hearing a note.
Still, the comparisons to bigger and badder female fronted bands must be a pain in the ass.
“It comes with its challenges because we’ve been compared to Within Temptation forever, which is very natural because their sound is in our DNA,” says Charlotte. “Our keyboardist Martijn (Westerholtis one of the main songwriters in Delain and used to be a member of Within Temptation. But, in general, those comparisons and connections have done more for us rather than being an obstacle because, let’s be honest, our first record was a studio record featuring lots of guest musicians. I think a lot of people picked up that record because there was a guest on it they liked, so it is difficult when you face certain competition. In our case, though, we have a lot to be grateful for, so I choose not to ponder over that too much.”
The Human Contradiction finds Delain in what is probably best position of their career. Signed to Napalm Records, they paid their dues in a big way leading up to and following the release of their previous album, We Are The Others (2012). Trying to follow the updates on said album was a confusing exercise, and it sounded like Delain was on their way to being crushed by music industry politics. Charlotte admits it was a painful rough patch for the band.
“When we started working on We Are The Others we were on Roadrunner, but in the middle of that Roadrunner got sold to Warner. We didn’t choose to be with them and they didn’t choose to have us on their roster, and because some people that we worked with at Roadrunner were still with the company we were basically working with two different teams. There were all kinds of ideas and opinions coming in from both sides and we’re a pretty stubborn band, so we didn’t let any of them steer us away from what we wanted to do. There was a lot of energy that went in to this frustrating label dance, and when we finished the record warner said ‘Maybe this isn’t such a good time to release it…’ and decided to put it on hold for a couple of months. What they don’t understand is that being in a band is like being in any other company; you can’t just do nothing for a couple of months because you’ll go bankrupt. We ended up with another record label (CNR Music), left them, and now we’re with Napalm and in clear waters. I’m very happy with the way We Are The Others came out, but there was kind of an overkill of third parties being involved. A lot of energy was spent on bureaucratic stuff rather than making music.”
The kicker is that in spite of a clusterfuck that would have ripped most bands to shreds, not only did Delain get We Are The Others out, they managed to secure and pull off tours in Europe and North America, the latter supporting Kamelot.
“The European tour happened when we had intended to have the album out, so that was a really rough time that we had to get through. We had fun on stage but we didn’t know what would happen with the album and what the outcome would be, or if people would even pick up the record. It’s sad to say, but it does matter that a record is timed and marketed right, and we had no support system. So, I’m afraid a lot of the buzz around the album was from our own efforts (laughs). We came out of it strong, though.”
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