Charlotte Wessels – Tales from Six Feet Under
Release Date: 17/9/21
Running Time: 43:39
Review by Steven Hooke
On the 7th February 2020, Dutch symphonic metal powerhouse Delain released their sixth studio album, the foreshadowingly-named “Apocalypse & Chill”. It was a great album, full of pop hooks, character, and personality, giving hope that not all Symphonic Metal acts just want to rewrite The Phantom of the Opera. However, in a turn of events that caught nearly everyone off-guard, vocalist Charlotte Wessels, guitarist Timo Somers, bassist Otto Schimmelpenninck van der Oije, and drummer Joey de Boer were all announced to be departing the band.
Undeterred by the events around her, Wessels has opted to double-down on her solo work, capitalising on the success and intrigue of her lockdown collaboration with Arch Enemy’s Alissa White-Gluz. Exploring her creativity via her Patreon audience, “Tales from Six Feet Under” acts as a greatest hits of the songs made during the aforementioned lockdown, forged in the fires of Wessels’ own home studio, dubbed “Six Feet Under”.
What follows is a whimsically diverse collection of songs and styles, ranging from indie, to synthpop, to alt rock, to folk, and everything in between. ‘Superhuman’ sees Wessels working a more intimate style, with gloomy indie pop, and a more refrained vocal style leading the way, offset with folk vocal calls and spoken word passages, before ripples of delicate electronica add a shimmering vibrance to the song. And that’s just the album opener.
“Tales from Six Feet Under” feels like an almost total-disassociation from Wessels’ Delain days. The closest she gets to her previous sound is in the cover of classic gothic rock anthem ‘Cry Little Sister’, the solo to ‘Source of the Flame’, and in the penultimate track ‘F.S.U. (2020)’ which handily out-heavies most of ‘Apocalypse & Chill’. Our self-proclaimed 21st Century witch excels at a modern folk-based sound, with ritualistic drum patterns, and soaring vocal notes often the base of a song to be built around. ‘Victor’ has a wonderful dreampop miasma, whereas ‘New Mythology’ is a bit more sprightly, executing a more electropop beat, and ‘Soft Revolution’ sees off the album as an electro rock stomper.
The true highlight of the album though comes from the appropriately-named ‘Masterpiece’, a cauldron of folk, indie, pop, and EDM, that is stuffed to the brim with attention-stealing hooks and a scintillating vocal performance from our new Dutch Queen. The song, and indeed the album, are all capped off by a brilliant production job, highlighting all corners of the album to perfection.
It almost feels like Charlotte Wessels has been secretly waiting for her departure from Delain, honing her indie pop craft (and home studio) to unleash onto the world at the earliest opportunity. There are many marvelous ideas on show in her debut solo outing, and with her monthly song via Patreon continuing as of November 2021, there seems to be no stopping the creativity. While knowing a lot about Wessels’ own personal creative process, it would be interesting to see what she could come up with, and the styles she could dabble with, were she to have a more traditional writing cycle and time for ideas to breathe, compared to the brainstorming and evolution of a single song at a time per month. Regardless, a rich vein of ideas appears to have been tapped by the former-Delain frontwoman, and it doesn’t appear to be running dry any time soon.
05. New Mythology
06. Source of the Flame
07. Cry Little Sister
08. Lizzie [w/ Alissa White-Gluz (Arch Enemy)]
09. FSU (2020)
10. Soft Revolution
Charlotte Wessels – Vocals, All Instruments
Alissa White-Gluz – Vocals (Track 8)
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