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Delphian: Unravel

My first impression here was, "oh no, not another female-fronted prog-metal band". Dutch five piece, Delphian released their debut album in 2004 and their sophomore effort initially appears to place them firmly in the mainstream of this genre along with Evanescence, Epica and Edenbridge, (and that's just from one letter of the alphabet!). As the album unfolds however it is Edenbridge who are perhaps the most apposite comparator because of the variety they bring to the format.

The use of flute adds a welcome touch of lightness and colour to the usual range of power-metal riffs, soaring soprano vocals and effervescent guitar solos. Its only as you listen to the later tracks that you start to realise that Delphian are a little bit special in such a cluttered category of music.

The album opens with the prog-metal banner flying high on "Starting to unravel", a twin guitar tour de force. "Creation", on the other hand embroiders the approach with almost a rapping style of singing at the start and modifies the time signature to a more erratic rhythmic pattern.

Aniek Janssen has a beautiful voice with both power and emotional delicacy, a quality her flute playing also reflects. Court Bouen's guitar lines are energetic and melodic without being over-dominant while they can really lay down in a groove with the rhythm guitar of Marcel Volleberg when they want to ramp up the volume and deliver the archetype wall of sound. Drummer Roel van Helden is also known for his work with Sun Caged whilst Sjoerd Hoeijmakers' powerful bass pulses the driving rhythms along.

The band's ability to write in a number of different styles, and the reason I give it a close comparison to Edenbridge, is epitomised by the next song, a dreamy ballad called "Sleepless Lullaby". "Focus on Acid" which follows blends the two styles in one song utilising power metal riffs and flute led melodies.

"Black and Blue" again deviates slightly from the traditional prog-metal approach with its rhythmic variations and thematic progressions. For me this is the best song on the album, featuring ever-changing riffs, soaring guitar, powerful and emotive vocals and interesting development.

"Hidden" again juxtaposes subtlety and power, opening with a heavy metal vamp and changing suddenly down to an almost pastoral instrumental duet between guitar and flute with spoken words by Aniek. The song is a mini rock opera in microcosm.

"Undone" reminds me of the heavier side of Heart (Animals era) whilst the closing track "Air" is a ten minute epic drawing in additional male vocals and adding piano and keyboards. Here the band take their most dramatic departure from the mainstream of the genre. Opening with a mournful lyric accompanied by a lone piano, the tempo gradually rises as the male singer is enjoined both as a duet and in opposing lyric. Lyrics are intelligent and phrased well by both singers. The metal riff kicks in periodically to emphasise parts of the song. Another mini rock-opera, reminding me of bands like Ten or Savatage.

Fans of Ayreon as well as goth, prog-metal and AOR should enjoy this album greatly.

Track Listing
1. Starting to unravel
2. Creation
3. Sleepless Lullaby
4. Focus on Acid
5. Black and Blue
6. Hidden
7. Undone
8. Air

Added: May 8th 2007
Reviewer: Richard Barnes
Related Link: Delphian Website
Hits: 3226
Language: english

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