We Are the Others

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"To pomp or not to pomp" has never been a question for the members of Delain. The Dutch group led by former Within Temptation keyboard player Martijn Westerholt has been preaching portentous melo-symphonic-goth-metal since their "diapers & demos" days -- so much so that even the style's considerable target audience seemed to need the evidence of a few albums before being convinced they should take Delain seriously. In any case, good things come to those who wait, and Delain's third, 2012's We Are the Others, may just be the opus that connects the dots for all parties -- not least because the band has reigned in those excesses somewhat and streamlined their songwriting to earthly levels mere mortal listeners can grasp more easily. For all their continued commitment to instrumental sophistication, potential singles like "Electricity," the title track, "Hit Me with Your Best Shot" (no relation to the Pat Benatar classic), and "Get the Devil Out of Me" are governed by catchy choruses, infectious synth lines, and lyrics of self-empowerment that any insecure teenage girl in search of a strong female role model can relate to (cue the emergence of vocalist Charlotte Wessels as a more confident presence center stage). Granted, none of these tracks possess quite the earworm power of Nightwish's biggest hits (and, should it not be obvious, the Finnish chart-toppers are still the horse to beat in this Euro-female-fronted pomp rock race), but Delain is getting closer and closer. And if Nightwish is still just beyond the group's reach, Delain is arguably already running stride-for-stride with next-best peers such as Lacuna Coil, via electronically spiked material such as "Milk and Honey" and the lovelorn "Where Is the Blood," featuring an unlikely cameo from Fear Factory's Burton C. Bell, wherein lies much of its eyebrow-raising appeal. It's ultimately the latter track, along with more forceful guitar-driven fare like "I Want You" and "Not Enough," that will probably appeal to metalheads seeking something a little less schmaltzy -- further proof that there's a little something here for almost everyone. So call it a play for the mainstream, or, perhaps less callously, a true multi-genre crossover: by whatever terminology, We Are the Others feels like the album that will finally draw a significantly expanded audience to Delain's door. Pomp and awe, indeed.