Released: 2013, Napalm Records
The female fronted symphonic metal genre is a crowded one, but the Dutch bands tend to rule the roost. For those unfamiliar with Delain, they are essentially a more commercial version of Within Temptation, and while that is often considered a slight in the metal world, it is not in this case. There are ties between the two bands through past members as well as ties with Epica. INTERLUDE is exactly the purpose of this album, and after leaving Roadrunner is the band’s first release on Napalm Records. It is a combination of new tracks, live versions, cover tunes, and two new mixes of previous songs, designed to sustain fans until the next studio album is released. While the complete package comes with a DVD that no doubt adds to the value, this review is for the CD only. Napalm Records states, in the promotional material, “Interlude" is not only a must for loyal Delain fans, but also for those who have not experienced the music by Charlotte Wessels and her band members so far. It is the perfect introduction to the world of DELAIN and the starting point to an emotional and bombastic journey!” I guess I cannot really argue with that, even though normally that tends to be typical label hyperbole. As always, the value of these is in the worthiness of the new tracks and whether or not the die-hard fans feel the need to collect the band’s covers and live tracks.
There are two new tracks, each of which is outstanding. The intro to “Breath On Me” features Charlotte Wessels, imploring in a whisper for someone to breathe on her. It is slightly annoying, but it does reveal one of the distinguishing features of her as a vocalist, compared to others in the genre. She has the ability to be seductively flirtatious in her singing, not content to be merely a technician reaching for the stratosphere. Wessels effortlessly alternates between sounding girly in one sentence to mature sophistication in the next. It is a nice contrast. The song is catchy, uncomplicated, and relies far less on symphonic keyboards than most of the band’s tunes. “Collars and Suits” is more traditional, the keyboards opening the track before a detuned guitar precedes the opening verse. It is a decent tune, but the lesser of the two new ones.
The band also offers a new mix for “Are You Done With Me”, the most commercial tune on the last album. The tune is now crisper, louder (gasp), and much more energetic. This new energy and versatility is most evident in Wessel’s vocals and while it has single written all over it, the songs is a fine tune nonetheless. Wessel’s also stretches those gorgeous vocals into the upper registers here for the first time on INTERLUDE. The other new mix is a piano ballad of the 2011 single, “We Are The Others”, suddenly made melancholic and slow. I prefer the upbeat version.
There are also three cover tunes, the best and most appropriate to the band’s style is “Cordell”, originally recorded by The Cranberries, with Wessels singing to the accompaniment of an acoustic guitar. The original “Small Town Boy” is a cool tune by Bronski Beat, but an unimaginative choice by Delain. Their version clearly plays second fiddle to Paradise Lost’s version, which has to be considered the superior and definitive cover of the original. The live tracks are well executed and recorded quite capably, but where is the crowd in the mix? Could be much of these live tracks were touched up in the studio. Either way, the band and label have included some good tunes on here, especially the new ones while the cover tunes are a novelty and for the collectors and die-hard fans. I really dig Delain, but I just cannot give a high ranking to what is basically, a compilation with a few good live tracks and one really