Ever wanted to find out what inspired a particular song?
Was it based on personal experience or simply passive observation?
What happened in the recording studio or on stage to make one song sound different from the rest?
These are just some of the question bands and musicians attempt to answer in Line 'em Up - the newest page of The Power Of Metal.Dk.
This is where your favourite bands comment on their albums, track by track, because as someone once said, “Ideas are the building blocks of ideas”.
Line'em Up with Charlotte Wessels, vocalist in Delain.
Here’s a chance for you to tell our readers about your debut album: "The Human Contradiction".
But could you please start off by introducing the readers to the band?
Delain – Symphonic metal from Holland, releasing records and touring the globe since 2006, pleased to meet you!
Could you please give us some info on the album: Where did you record the album and who has produced and mixed it?
Delain – We took matters into our own hands for the creation of "The Human Contradiction". Besides relying more heavily then ever on the team effort of the Delain writing team consisting of Delain founder and keyboardist Martijn Westerholt, our long time musical partner Guus Eikens, and myself, we took matters in our own hands by having Martijn back in his trusted producer chair. The record then was mixed by Fredrik Nordström and Henrik Udd at the legendary Fredman Studio’s (In Flames, Soilwork, Amon Amarth) and mastered by Grammy Award winning Ted Jensen of Sterling Sound, whose impressive credits include everything from Madonna and Billy Joel, to Muse, Marilyn Manson and Slipknot. The result is a collection of songs in which you will be able to recognize Delain’s recent sound, but which forefronts the more dark symphonic approach of our earlier work: elaborate orchestral sounds and the return of prominent grunts are prevalent on the album which features longer, elaborate tracks, with dark edges.
These dark edges run along both the instrumental and lyrical world. The title "The Human Contradiction" is taken from one of my favorite books; Octavia E. Butlers trilogy Lilith’s Brood. A post-apocalypse story, in which the fact that humanity did not last is explained by our two most contradictory qualities; the fact that we are as a species both intelligent and hierarchic. This human contradiction causes an ‘us versus the others’ mentality, which in the book - as well as one could argue, in reality - proves to be a most selfdestructive attitude. in a way, "The Human Contradiction" presents a broadening and deepening of the lyrical concept of We Are The Others: ‘otherness’ and how people relate to this, has had my interest for years.
Whether it is otherness within our species, so towards people who are perceived as ‘different’ by other people (which was "We Are The Others" main focus) or in our attitudes towards non-human ‘others’, which is the lyrical addition made by our new record.”
And now onto your new album track-by-track, what inspired you, and what do what to express with this song etc.
01. Here Come the Vultures
Delain – This is the opening track of the record, and rightfully so. It is very instrumentally diverse and kind of unusual in a cool way. It was written on Halloween night, the working title has been Halloween for ages, and I even think parts of it sound rather Halloween-ish, like it would fit as the soundtrack of a scary movie. The lyrics, very fitting, were inspired by a strangely fitting mix of nightmares and disillusions with the music industry.
02. Your Body is a Battleground
Delain – “Your Body Is A Battleground” features Marco Hietala (Nightwish, Tarot) who delivers some really awesome vocals on this track, which also features some grand orchestral arrangements by Mikko P. Mustonen. Lyricly, this song - which borrows its title from iconic feminist artist Barbara Kruger- deals with the ethical worries, or rather I should say my own ethical concerns with a particular industry that I consider both very important, as many people owe their very lives to it, but on the other hand potentially very intrusive; the industries that makes money from what they label imperfect bodies -think about the food, medical or cosmetic field- for whatever realistic reasons -which is fine, or reasons completely encouraged by this normative society we live in - which is not fine, or greed -which is not fine...
Delain – As mentioned before the title of our record The Human Contradiction is derived from Octavia E. Butlers post-apocalypse trilogy ‘Liliths Brood’; our records first single ‘Stardust’ was inspired by the trilogy’s first book ‘Dawn’, in which human survivors are awakened to an uninhabitable earth (“Bring me to life”) The approach that the lyrics take is a rather dreamy one, narrating the emotions of someone who is homesick for this earth which is now uninhabitable, and torn by the fact that we have done it to ourselves. It also takes inspiration from post humanist philosopher Michel Foucault and the way he spoke of humanity; how we think that we are central to the world, how we believe we can control and define everything, but that we could be washed away, like a face drawn in the sand at the edge of the sea, for reasons that we, at this point, can not even imagine.
04. My Masquerade
Delain – One of the first songs that we finished for this record! We performed it at the closing gig of the We Are The Others tour, that we called ‘My Masquerade’ as well, to give people a taste of what’s to come. The lyrics are about embracing (among other things ;)) the freak in yourself, and others.
05. Tell Me, Mechanist
Delain – Tell Me, Mechanist is a heavy track featuring very prominent grunts from George Oosthoek, the vocalist who performed the grunts on our debut Lucidity as well. The lyrics are about the work of seventeenth century philosopher Rene Descartes who, inspired by the new science of mechanics, argued how everything and everyone including human beings consist of mechanistic parts, much like a clock (so Descartes could be considered the “Mechanist” from the title) Following from this argument he reasoned that animals are mere machines, unable to feel pain, as opposed to human beings - because humans according to him are the only species with a God-granted soul... The song then is inspired by Voltaire’s brilliant response to Descartes mechanistic worldview when he wrote: “There are barbarians who seize this dog (...) and dissect him alive, to show you the mesaraic veins! You discover in him all the same organs of feeling as in yourself. Answer me, mechanist, has Nature arranged all the springs of feeling in this animal to the end that he might not feel? (Voltaire, 1764, sv “Betes”)
I have written my thesis about the subject of speciesism and have adjusted parts of my lifestyle accordingly; this particular philosophical exchange between Descartes and Voltaire resonates strongly with me as in this day and age, centuries after this conversation and after indisputable proof for the sentience of animals, many people still use these outdated arguments for using and abusing animals.
06. Sing to Me
Delain – A track featuring once again both the guest vocals of Marco Hietala as well as the orchestral arrangements of Mikko Mustonen. The duet is a coming of age conversation leading to a grand orchestral conclusion. It is funny to think that this song started out very small and baladesqe and ended up being the powerhouse it now is on the record.
07. Army of Dolls
Delain – Army of Dolls is lyrically very much inspired by the crazy norms that people- specifically women - are expected to conform to in order to be considered - not even just beautiful - but ‘normal’ these days. Sadly a lot of personal experience resonates in this song as the music industry has a tendency to take these crazy standards even further. Army of Dolls is dedicated to that strange norm, and dedicated to crushing it, basically.
Delain – Because sometimes a shipwreck metaphor sounds friendlier then the mess the shipwreck’s a metaphor for.
09. The Tragedy of the Commons
Delain – “The Tragedy of The Commons” is the album finale, and has an epic chorus to match. On the prominent chorus choirs, I had vocal assistance of Georg Neuhauser (Serenity), which makes them really stand out. Also this song features Alissa’s kick-ass guest appearance. The lyrics are inspired by the economic theory that explains how individuals acting in favor of one's self-interest, act contrary to the collective long-term interests by depleting common resources. The lyrics take an environmental approach to the topic, focussing on how ‘we’ participate in the depletion of our natural surroundings, aware of the dangerous consequences, daily and open-eyed. It’s quite apocalyptic, really.
Tell us a bit about the artwork – who made it etc. and how important do you feel it is to have a cool artwork?
Delain – I really enjoy the process of finding a visual world to match the music of the record, and a good artwork can do just that. For The Human Contradiction, I had a very extensive list of what I wanted the artwork to include both visually/esthetically as symbolically. From including the cosmic elements to pay tribute to the book the album borrows its title from, to visualizing the dualisms that are caused by this human contradiction (human vs nonhuman nature in this case).. I have to totally credit both our go-to photographer Sandra Ludewig and the designers at DasBuro for creating out of all those wishes one striking image!
Any last words you want to round this interview off with?
Delain – Thanks for the support and see you on the road!
Kenn Jensen, May 2014