Delain: Moonbathers (Napalm Records)
Never accuse the Dutch band Delain of failing to evolve. The female-fronted symphonic-metal outfit entered a crowded category in 2006 with its debut album, Lucidity, but singer Charlotte Wessels and keyboardist Martijn Westerholt have boldly separated themselves from that pack with each successive release.
On Moonbathers, Delain’s hook-filled fifth studio album, this band sounds more epic and adventurous than ever. The title of the majestic “The Glory and The Scum” suggests this crew doesn’t take itself nearly as seriously as some of its peers, while the intro to “Suckerpunch” implies dancing might be more appropriate than head banging. Delain also shocks with “Scandal,” an unexpected cover of a deep cut from Queen’s 1989 album, Miracle, while a few strategically placed growls from guest vocalist Alissa White-Gluz of Arch Enemy complement the music’s dark aggressiveness and Wessels’ commanding delivery. With Moonbathers, Delain certainly earns its place alongside Nightwish as one of female-fronted metal’s most sophisticated and rewarding bands.