Delain: Breaking Musical Norms

What does Steampunk have in common with Goth subculture? The symphonic metal artist Delain.


This Dutch band was formed by former Within Temptation keyboardist Martjin Westerholt, with the vocals of Charlotte Wessels. While most artists sing about love, breakups, love, betrayal, love, relationships, and love, Delain sings about acceptance, environment, and social tolerance.

The band first caught my attention with their song “We Are the Others” from their album of the same title. “We Are the Others” was written in honour of the murder of Sophie Lancaster, a victim of hatred and fear for the Goth culture in Lancashire, in the UK. The music video begs for acceptance and tolerance for everyone regardless of their differences from social norms.

Another song that clearly includes “punk’ or radical themes is “Tragedy of the Commons” from their newest album “The Human Contradiction.” Tragedy of the Commons describes the world as commonly held property that we are destroying through our own selfishness and pride. Written from the perspective of a witness to the future, the lyrics are a bitter and fatalistic toast to an inevitable destruction through human ignorance and stupidity.

But perhaps the most steampunk song of all is “Mother Machine” from “We Are the Others.” Complete with musical sound effects that invoke the sound and feeling of a great machine, the song describes a world similar to that of “Metropolis,” the famous silent film of 1927. In it a great machine takes care of humanity, and describes to a little girl what to expect. No sunshine, no flowers, only concrete and fake imitations of beauty.

Of course, Delain does music about love and relationships as well, but not in the way you would expect. Instead they write about missed meetings, the price of heroics, and the vengeful nature of demons.

Overall they are a musical band that embraces the future–not only in style, but in the content of lyrics. They are unafraid of discussing the hard topics, and it’s even more amazing for being expressed in lyrical form. It takes a lot of bravery to break out of the mold that society and record companies have set for today’s artists and that, perhaps more than anything, is what gives this band so much of the spirit of steampunk.


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3 Responses to “Delain: Breaking Musical Norms

  • Delain is indeed a great band. However, this article has an error. Metropolis is NOT steampunk. It belongs to dieselpunk. Please correct.

  • You are correct about “Metropolis” falling into the DieselPunk genre, and amendments have been made 🙂

  • Thanks for speedy correction. I do have a question about the main topic of this article. I never could find in the article what makes Delain ‘steampunk.’ Addressing “hard topics” and having the “bravery to break out of the mold” doesn’t seem unique enough to the genre of steampunk to be a qualifying criteria.


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