In a day and age where Finnish giants Sonata Arctica and Stratovarius reign supreme over the Scandinavian world of power metal, many metalheads think that there's nothing new to be found in the genre. However, at the same time that these bands were recording “Winterheart's Guild” and “Elements” respectively, an unknown but extremely well supported band called Twilightning was piecing together their debut.
Now, I have to take a step back and say that I enjoy Stratovarius and Sonata Arctica as much as the next Finn-metal fan. But when asked to be honest, I've got to say that THIS is the Finnish metal album (heck, THE album) of 2003. The music here is different from that of most artists in a number of ways, and Heikki Pöyhiä's vocals are one of the first. This man has a powerful voice that reminds me a bit at times of Jarmo Pääkkönen of Excalion. Tempo-wise, this album swings back and forth a little bit, but most of the better tracks are up-tempo. I've heard some describe this album as progressive, and I can't say that I really agree with that at all. By and large, this album is fairly strophic, but certainly not in a way that you'll tire of. Particularly not with the guitar hooks! Though it leans ever so slightly in the direction of hard rock at a few points (a trait of this band that sadly deepens and takes the music downhill after this album), the guitar work on this album is nothing short of stellar. Not perhaps the fastest, showiest, or most technical, but so very well rounded and absurdly catchy!
Not only are the riffs and vocals good on this album, but I found the percussion above-average and well mixed. The guitar solos are truly excellent, particularly in “Gone to the Wall” and “Return to Innocence”. Every song is brimming with catchy guitar licks and great vocal hooks. Even the weakest tracks on this album are enjoyable and comparable to “good” tracks produced by many other groups. The studio production is done extremely well to top everything off, especially for a debut album. One of my few complaints is the extended tinkly instrumental sections that precede or follow a couple of the songs. They're not bad by any stretch of the imagination, and sometimes I enjoy listening to them. But more often than not, I'll barely be able to hear it. This makes me wonder if there's just dead space, which leads me to skip it.
As for high and low points, I'd generally describe this album as starting and riding high throughout the first four songs, then coasting downhill through the still great “Return to Innocence” to reach the not unpleasant valley (in terms of tempo) of “Under Somber Skies” through “Enslaved to the Mind”, before streaking upwards and ending on the second pinnacle of musical brilliance on the album, (and my personal favorite) “Masked Ball Dalliance”. A slower, sweeping song with a good balance of vocals and guitar work, this song presents some of the most brilliant melodies on the album. The title track is the other high point of the this album, with a straight-forward fast paced metal race through vocal acrobatics, machine-gun snare drumming, and fantastically executed flourishes of guitar. My opinion of “Under Somber Skies” and “Enslaved to the Mind” as the weaker tracks here is not shared by everyone, however, as I've heard the former referred to as a favorite by several other reviewers. You'll just have to pick this one up yourself to find out :)
It would be hard to believe that this album could disappoint any fan of melodic metal. The musicianship is really just top-notch in every way, and the band members truly have a gift of melody. High marks for following a successful metal mold while adding a lot of their own color. Twilightning may have sunk after the release of their incredible debut, but this album is a testament of what a band is capable of at their creative peak. Stunning in its execution, “Delirium Veil” sweeps up the listener to a plane of musical rapture that few bands have ever reached. Absolutely essential.
The Protagonist's Rating: 9.5 out of 10