The album starts with a bang as the chugging guitars and double bass drumming heralds the start of Hands of Gold which is a real symphonic metal anthem with dramatic orchestrations and the album's only guest vocal spot. Alissa White-Gluz (The Agonist; Arch Enemy) adds her trademark growling vocals to the album which is a great contrast to Wessels' soaring cleans. This is one of the heaviest Delain songs to date, and includes a excellent chorus where Wessels showcases her impressive vocal range as Westerholt's swirling keyboards and orchestrations provide colour. White-Gluz's section is the album's heaviest moment, and then everything drops out leaving just Wessels' voice with some subtle drumming - a great contrast in styles. The Glory and the Scum follows with a groovy riff and soon descends into a solid mid-paced verse led by Otto Schimmelpenninck van der Oije's driving bassline and a commanding vocal display from Wessels. The chorus is the song's strongest moment however. Wessels even provides the growled backing vocals during this part of the song, showing even more vocal range than I thought she possessed, and the rest of the vocal melodies are extremely catchy. Somers even gets a short guitar solo to show off his skills, something which is a rarity in the band's music. Suckerpunch, one of the two songs to appear on Lunar Prelude, opens with some atmospheric synths and morphs into a soaring rocker that relies more on Westerholt's keyboards than many of the other songs here. The verses are very rhythmic with some great drumming from Israel, and the chorus is an explosive one with lots of catchy backing vocals. The song's instrumental breakdown is also worth a mention, as it is more Nightwish than Nightwish! It shows that Delain can do the over-the-top style symphonic metal too, and this short section really adds something extra to an already great song. After three great songs, the album sees a slight drop in quality with The Hurricane. It is a slow song, but without any real standout melodies and it never seems to really go anywhere. It is a bit of a plodding song really, and Delain have done much better songs of this ilk in the past. The next song, Chrysalis - The Last Breath, is also a slow number but this is much more a ballad than The Hurricane. Opening with delicate piano and Wessels' voice, it starts off strongly and continues well throughout. I particularly like the strange chorus during the song, with some very floaty vocals from Wessels that sounds different from anything she has recorded before. It works well and you can see her love of Muse shining through. While the last third of the song is a bit gritter, it never really becomes a rocker. That works well however, and shows a different side to Delain's songwriting.
After two slower songs, Fire with Fire picks up the pace with a simple, but heavier metal tune which is instantly catchy and has a very old school Delain vibe. This would not have sounded out of place on 2009's April Rain. I imagine this song will become a live favourite, especially with the anthemic gang vocal chanting section that comes after the melodic chorus. There is another bombastic symphonic instrumental section part way through, which climaxes with some ringing piano chords and a huge, rousing gang vocal section. This is a rocking tune that stood out from the off, and is one of the best tracks on the album. Pendulum is another heavier track with some barking growls in the song's intro (and also used elsewhere throughout), but it soon becomes a smoother song with a keyboard-driven verse with van der Oije's rolling bassline proving some great rhythm. There is another strong guitar solo here, and shows that Somers is a pretty capable player. Flashy guitar parts have never been a big part of the band's sound, so it is good to see the guitar work a bit more varied and explosive in parts throughout. I would like to see the band do more of this in the future, especially with Somers and Bechtold in the band now. Bechtold is a real shredder too, so I would love to see her cut loose! Danse Macabre is a strange song, but it is great with some catchy Eastern-inspired melodies and some dancey synths in places that bring Amaranthe to mind. The chorus is classic Delain though, with Wessels' high vocals taking the spotlight as Westerholt's keyboards ring out with some extremely melodic lines. Overall, the song feels very different to what Delain have done in the past, despite some familiar sounds coming through, and it is good to see the band pushing themselves on this album. A cover of Queen's Scandal follows, which might actually be better than original. Scandal is not exactly a classic Queen song, and sounds more like Duran Duran or Spandau Ballet than Queen, but Delain have taken it and made it into a real rocker. The chorus is bombastic and powerful, and Wessels holds her own against the inimitable Freddie Mercury. There is a proper guitar solo here too, with a bit of shredding and what sounds like some lead keyboards thrown into the mix. This is a really strong cover, and merits it's inclusion on the album. Turn the Lights Out, the second song to appear on Lunar Prelude, the is the last 'proper' song on the album. I was one of the first people to hear this song when they debuted it in Bristol on their European tour last year, and I liked it from the off. It has a great atmospheric feel to it, as the big layers of keyboards dominate. Wessels sounds absolutely gorgeous during the floaty chorus and shows why she is one of the best vocalists in symphonic metal. It ends the album on a strong note, as it merges into the largely instrumental closing number The Monarch. Overall, Moonbathers is another strong album from Delain. It does take a few listens to get into, but it is an album worth sticking with as there are some real gems on here.
The album was released on 26th August 2016 via Napalm Records. Below is the band's promotional video for Suckerpunch.