Review Summary: Delerium trying to offer something for everyone.Music Box Opera
, Delerium's first album in over six years, finds Bill Leeb and Rhys Fulber (along with new collaborator Jeremy Inkel) returning to the poppier, female studded format debuted on 2003's successful, Chimera
. After the slight return of the more exotic, mystic elements on Nuages Du Monde
, the band left them behind again in an attempt to recapture their former glory with a massive set of tracks out of which, hopefully, everyone would find something to enjoy. However, unlike Chimera
, the band's latest output doesn't have the strength to stand out as one of Delerium's best records.
Musically, the record is beautifully crafted, but what it lacks is the hooks their 2003 effort and earlier standout, Karma
had. For example, tracks like "Monarch", "Frostbite" or "Hammer" have a solid melody behind them, but the vocals lack the power they need and are pretty much forgettable. It's more of a matter of choice over singing duties rather than accusing the artists of not doing a proper job, because some of the tracks here are lovely, such as "The Sky (Tears From Heaven)" featuring long time collaborator Kirsty Thirsk. She gives another great performance, the song suiting her better than the aforementioned cases. "The Sky" resembles more Delerium's late 90s/early 00s style, being a slow, moody number rather than the more poppy affairs the album contains. Also, Thirsk manages to successfully shift from monotone verses to a pristine voice on the chorus giving a soothing feeling most of the songs on Music Box Opera
Even if the listener can count as usual on Kirsty Thirsk to deliver, newcomer Stef Lang steals the spotlight on the album's best numbers, "Chrysalis Heart" and opener "Consciousness Of Love". Her warm voice gorgeously complements the music, easily turning the former into one of the band's best songs in the past decade. First single, "Days Turn Into Nights", is another solid track (also standing out as one of the few Delerium numbers sung by a male voice), Michael Logen doing justice to this nostalgic tune without laying much effort, yet what stands out most is the music behind him. Rhys Fulber and Bill Leeb put together a lovely instrumental complete with wah guitars and trademark sequenced synthesizers. All these songs might not seem as good as they are on a first listen, instead they unfold upon repeated listens.
Unfortunately, these highs are not enough to sustain the whole album, as it easily passes past the one hour mark. The two instrumentals, "Rain Down" and "Music Box Opera", might offer a fresh breath midway through the effort and at the end of it, but the whole affair gets rather exhausting after a few listens. The band members show they're still able to craft a good album, but half of the vocals feel uninteresting and forgettable. A return to the mystic atmosphere that records like Karma
and even Poem
had would be welcomed at this point, because even though Music Box Opera
isn't a weak record, it pales in comparison when put alongside the band's classics, much like previous effort, Nuages Du Monde