Heavy Mettle

I have a bit of a weird relationship with heavier music.  On the one hand, from relatively early on in my musical exploration, I sought to listen to as much heavy music as possible.  (Admittedly, I think a lot of that was brought on by a desire to be edgy and cool, but I’ve never listened to music that I didn’t enjoy, and my first concert was a metal concert.)  On the other hand, the past ten years or so have seen me shift significantly in the way I listen to music, and for a while I was so focused on finding mellow, ballad-like compositions that I hardly listened to so much as even aggressive rock music.  At the end of the day, I always come back to the heavier end of the spectrum, but it’s not my default as it once was.

This is how I’ve come to put Finnish symphonic metal band Delain on the backburner for a few years now after falling in love with their work back in 2012.  Of course, symphonic metal is arguably one of the more “accessible” metal subgenres, but nonetheless, I still have to be in the right mood for it; after a brief period of listening to Delain all the time, they slowly tapered out, and it was only a handful of favorites that I’ve taken much time to listen to in recent history.

That is, up until recently, when I found energetic, heavy music to be the best thing to accompany a game I’ve been playing.  Since Delain had served a similar purpose in the past, I opted to turn to them.  I’ve yet to catch up on their newest releases for the moment, but going back to their first few albums, I rediscovered “Virtue And Vice,” a song that had not previously stuck with me as a favorite from their second album, April Rain.

The composition is an inspirational piece about coming to terms with reality.  Those notions would appear to be slightly contradictory, but that’s what makes the message lead singer Charlotte Wessels belts out all the more powerful.  “Virtue And Vice” is about embracing the titular things together, accepting the ups and downs that life has to offer, and seeing it all as part of a cohesive experience; as the chorus prominently proclaims, ”We’ll live all there is to live / Be it pleasure, be it sorrow.”  It’s a song of truly epicurean philosophy, that to experience the highs you have to experience the lows, and that’s not a bad thing.

Among the heavy guitars, accents of piano, and orchestral strings, Wessels is also briefly accompanied by death growling by guitarist Ronald Landa in the second verse.  After the second chorus, there is a brief period of softness in an instrumental interlude, but a guitar solo drives the song back up to its primary energy level, and the song closes on one of the most encouraging lines of the song: “My forever starts tomorrow.”

Though I imagine I was always going to wind up coming back to Delain at some point, I’m still finding myself thoroughly pleased that it’s happened now, and that I was able to hear something new in “Virtue And Vice” this time around.  If you’re on the lookout for a rousing, powerful song, or just a good song in general, be sure it give it a listen.

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