"The world is literally burning and on social media you see people living their perfect lives..." Delain talk new album Apocalypse & Chill
Formed back in 2002 after his departure from Dutch supremos Within Temptation, Martijn Westerholt's Delain have risen up to be a force in symphonic metal in their own right.
Over the past 14 years, they've released six acclaimed albums, bringing the scale and might of metal with the pomp and grandeur of a very large orchestra.
Their latest effort is Apocalypse & Chill, their first new album in four years. Blending their trademark sonics with more synths and electronics, it's a big statement from the band.
With Apocalypse & Chill now on shelves, we spoke to keyboardist and key songwriter Westerholt about how the album came together...
When did you start working on the songs for Apocalypse & Chill?
"We started in 2018 - working on the new album with writing song concepts, and finished the first recordings and mixes by December that year. We kind of work in parts. A modern way of working! Normally you write first, then hit the studio, and record everything, and then mix everything. This time we wrote, recorded, and mixed in bits and pieces which makes things far more flexible, and worked absolutely fantastically!"
It’s been four years since Moonbathers, did you have an abundance of material to work through? Or were the songs slow in coming?
"It actually went pretty smoothly. We started relatively late because we were very busy with touring, and since 2012 we have released something new every year. If it wasn't an album of some type, it was an EP or a DVD. I'm very happy with our writing team, and I am always confident something will come out."
How did you want this album to move on from what you did on Moonbathers? Did you have a goal in terms of a sound to find?
"I never set a goal, but just follow where the river of creativity leads us. We do say every time "This album should be harder and louder!". And so was the case this time too. But for the rest I don't really set a goal. Just let the inspirational juices do the work, so to speak..."
This is your first album with Joey de Boer on drums, what did he bring to the process?
"A lot of enthusiasm, and his own style of drumming. Every drummer I've worked with has his own footprint I think. Joey is very disciplined and very easy to work with. After writing and finishing a song, I gave the material to Joey so he could get acquainted with it and make it his own."
"A drummer has a very distinct idea about drum arrangements, in my experience. And it is very helpful in making the song more complete and effective."
You’ve largely been a six-piece, are you enjoying life as a five?
"The vast majority of Delain's existence we were a five-piece band. So we feel very much at home as a five-piece band. We are blessed with a very good guitar player in Timo. And on top of that, technology helps as well nowadays. We were searching for years how to make one rhythm guitar sound wide, like two rhythm guitars! And finally now there is a way to do that. So it also works out for us live. We will stay as a five-piece."
What kind of album is this lyrically? Can you talk us through some of the themes you’re exploring?
"The overall theme is the fact that it's our observation that the world is literally burning, and on the other hand on social media you see people living their perfect lives. It's quite a contrast. This comes back in many of our songs like 'Let's Dance'. This also comes back in our cover where you see a girl tanning on a beach chair while the city behind her is on fire..."
Which song on the album took the longest to get right?
"Good question. I think it was 'Vengeance'. The guitar riffing on that song was quite elusive. But in the end I think it worked out..."
And which came together most quickly?
"I think 'Burning Bridges' was relatively fast. We had a riff and when we sat down together we were pretty fast coming up with a verse and chorus. It turned out into one of the heaviest and most intense songs we ever made. Also, live it really works out."
When did you decide on Apocalypse & Chill for the album title? Were any other titles in contention?
"There were some. But this one got stuck the most in our minds. Charlotte (Wessels, singer) came up with it when we had the majority of the songs ready, so the bigger picture appeared, with this result. Another candidate was Ghost House Heart if I remember correctly, but Apocalypse and Chill covered the subjects and themes of the majority of the songs way better."
What are your plans to take the album out live?
"We will hit the UK beginning of February. The release of the album is right as our tour starts! We will play the vast majority of the album live, together with some classic oldies. Very much looking forward to it. We also do a big show in The Netherlands on February 14thh with an extra big production and special guests..."
You’ve got six records now, how do you decide what goes in your live set?
"We look at the flow of a set. Some songs fit really well together, and others do not. Besides that, we also look at crowd favourites, and want to find a nice mixture of old and new songs, so each album is represented with at least one song, but often more."
How are your festival plans shaping up? Is it looking like a busy summer?
"We already have a couple of gems in the festival roster. From the Czech Republic to Germany and France, and more are coming up. So it's going to be busy. However, we are also picky at looking at which festivals fit our music, territory, and schedule. We want to watch out that we're not playing too much..."