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Pomp metal doesn't come any more, well, pompous than Delain's, as was made apparent on the Dutch ensemble's very first offering, Lucidity, released in 2006 by Roadrunner Records. That's because Delain are the brainchild of former Within Temptation keyboard player Martjin Westerholt, whose lengthy experience and considerable contacts helped him marshal a veritable army of vocalists and musicians to perform on this album (as stated above, this was an ensemble more so than a band), which goes some way toward explaining why it sometimes sounds like there's an entire symphony orchestra whose members are elbowing each other in the studio. An orchestra, it should be noted, in which guitars most definitely play a secondary or at least subservient role to Westerholt's omnipotent keyboards, and, in combination with the surprisingly slack, one-dimensional pacing heard throughout, really dampens Lucidity's appeal for the metallic audience (most will be fast asleep by the time the energetic "A Day for Ghosts" arrives near the end). Amidst all this, it's apparent that singer Charlotte Wessels has a very lovely voice, as pure and powerful as any other Euro-metal diva, but ultimately lacking enough individual identity to stand out from peers like Sharon den Adel and Liv Kristine -- both of whom make cameos here. The same is true for her supporting cast, and so the incredibly lush orchestration and operatic grandeur found on "Sever" and "Sleepwalker's Dream" wind up smacking of vintage Nightwish (Marco Hietala's intolerably forced guest vocals on other cuts don't help), while the violin-like articulation and Cristina Scabbia-like tones heard on "Frozen" and "Daylight Lucidity" definitely bring Lacuna Coil to mind. Worse still, closer "Pristine" is only narrowly saved from a fate worse than Evanescence by some unexpected Cookie Monster growls, which come from absolutely nowhere, and return there just as quickly. All this, in sum, amounts to an extremely poised, professional, beautifully executed album, sadly lacking in personality, but for anyone oblivious to the many bands it footnotes, Lucidity could very well feel like an all-out masterpiece.

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