With an album title that is basically a play on the well-known millennial term “Netflix & Chill” and an album cover featuring a nonchalant woman sunbathing amidst an apocalyptic backdrop, you'd be forgiven for thinking that Delain aren't exactly taking themselves seriously with their latest release. Yet the moment Apocalypse & Chill
begins with menacing opener “One Second”, it's clear that Delain have focused on a concept about the world's impending doom. Sure, Delain aren't the first band to have picked up on this and they certainly won't be the last, but compared to previous albums the band seem to be taking a swift turn for the morose here.
The songwriting in Apocalypse & Chill
, despite numerous forays into heavier, goth metal styles and a shared vocal performance with guitarist Timo Somers, is actually very fluent for the most part and all aspects of Delain's repertoire tie in together beautifully. Whether it's the harder-hitting thrum of “One Second” and “Let's Dance” or the violent, atmospheric surge of “Chemical Redemption” and “Burning Bridges”, every member of Delain is playing as part of a collective rather than for their own individual merits. Wessels' voice soars amidst an almost industrial metal stomp during most of “To Live is to Die”, and the grinding guitar work on closing instrumental “Combustion” is quite an exciting finish, thankfully overshadowing the lackluster “The Greatest Escape”. Elsewhere, synthesisers and keyboards are unsurprisingly in spades, “We had Everything” demonstrating a sound closer to Amaranthe than to Epica at their heaviest and “Creatures” providing a more electronic, synthetic performance which strangely doesn't detract from Delain's general charm.
It's clear with Apocalypse & Chill
that Delain have embraced outside influences but in very subtle ways. Whilst songs such as “Chemical Redemption” and “Burning Bridges” are arguably the heaviest of the album, they also indulge in a hefty amount of melodrama which is stunningly backed by a monstrous industrial metal style, ramping up the meat of the chorus sections and bringing a whole new energy to the band's instrumental presence. Elsewhere, “Ghost House Heart” simmers down the tension of its predecessors in favour of a more keyboard-led performance, and one that certainly evolves into operatic tendencies towards the end. Sure, it doesn't exactly stand out as a contender for the album's centrepiece, but what it does do is show the band still have variety in them and aren't afraid to demonstrate all sides of their musical repertoire. Similarly, “Masters of Destiny” is more lenient in its intensity but does show a return to the album's first few tracks where that symphonic/Gothic metal presence shined everywhere, yet somehow the latter stages of the album doesn't represent the same bite that earlier songs had. Wessels' vocal performance begins to dwindle and it's at this point that you understand Delain have run out of creative energy.
Apocalypse & Chill
is more or less Delain at their best, and really the band are proving they can go above and beyond what is expected of them in light of the last few albums. Sure, the subtle variations in pace and style on the album aren't exactly shoved to the forefront, but they do provide an extra underlying bite to most songs making everything somewhat bigger and more urgent. What's more important here is that as a band, Delain seem to be inspired as a collective and that's perhaps why the general performance feels tight and doesn't ever seem like it's going to fall apart. Where the band go conceptually from here is unknown, but for now Apocalypse & Chill
will satisfy the fanbase and welcome a few naysayers who are willing to give Delain another chance.