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Epica - The Divine Conspiracy CD (album) cover

THE DIVINE CONSPIRACY

Epica

 

Progressive Metal

3.87 | 106 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Jshutt64
4 stars Epica's heaviest album to date. By far. If you don't like Mark Jansen's growls, well, you could be in trouble for this album, lol. This album successfully combines the heavy elements from The Phantom Agony and the more refined musical touch of Consign To Oblivion. Simone Simones, quite honestly, may be the best singer in the genre. This album sets her above so many singers, possibly even Floor Jansen from After Forever fame. Her performance is nothing less than amazing.

The guitars and drums, as a general rule, are much louder and much more prevelant. The drums on this album is far better than anything Epica has done in the past. There are some areas on this album that the drummer does such fierce blast beats and double bass rolls that it feels like black metal. In addition to that, there are many progressive elements in some songs, which features some EXTREMELY technical playing. The same can be said about the guitars, there are some extremely technical parts which are covered very well by Ad and Mark. There's even a solo.

As always, the arrangements of the songs is what really sets it apart from everything else. Mark Jansen is a musical and lyrical genious. The album as a whole has a very dark feel, and it is very, very, satisfying. to add to that, it's a concept album! The choir is used constantly, which helps us get that signature Epica feel, and after 3 albums, it has not gotten old. Coen provides amazing keyboard work for the ambiance of the entire album. Everything just fits together so perfectly, and makes it so, so, so....Epica!

Now for the song by song.

Indigo:

Intro in the same fashion as Hunab K'u and Adyta. Maybe not quite as bombastic as Hunab K'u, but it is much more melodic. Has sort of the same sort of melancholy as Adyta, but the production is much better than it was when they made TPA. Good intro, and segways directly into the first real track.

The Obsessive Devotion:

This track kicks off, and all one can think is holy shit. The cheesiness of Dance of Fate is completely gone. Thirty seconds into this song I knew that this was going to be my favorite Epica album. Starts off with a heavy and very symphonic intro and goes directly into the verses sung by Simone, Mark, and the choir. Simone's vocals have improved to a level that I did not think was possible for her. The singing is more similar to that on Consign To Oblivion, but, it is INCREDIBLE. Many heavy parts with growls, and they are done perfectly. The 7 minute monster nears the end with a spoken verse by Simone (...all I wish, is to get RID OF THIS OBSESSIVE DEVOTION!!!) followed by a heavy riff and more growls by Mark. The intro riff comes back in, and the song ends. What a killer.

Menace of Vanity:

This song is even heavier. Simone is completely absent from this song; it's only Mark's growls as the choir. Very fast, heavy and aggressive, one of those songs that you wonder doesn't the drummer's legs fall off doing this live?. Not a particularly long song at 4ish minutes, and there is a nice symphonic break with drums and guitar. Definitely a headbanger, but probably my least favorite track on the album. It's a bit too repetitive for my tastes.

Chasing the Dragon:

This happens to be the best song Epica has ever done, and one of the best songs I've ever heard. At nearly 8 minutes, it has constant changes and leaves you absolutely breathless. The first few minutes contain the most beautiful ballad Simone Simons has ever done. I cried when I first heard it. No joke. The song evolves as the drums come in to join the intro acoustic guitar. Then the strings come in, as the song continues to evolve. The distorted guitar joins, and out comes Mark's growls. The song now becomes a ballad/death metal hybrid, lol. And then bang! An incredible keyboard/synth interlude comes in (which is actually fused with electronica if you listen closely ) and this song just loses itself. The drums and guitar come into full swing, and it leads us to a fiece black metal part by Mark (think near the end of the song Consign To Oblivion). After that, the strings come back in, and transitions us back into the ballad which closes the song. This song is so amazing. Favorite Epica song ever.

Never Enough:

Well, it's a single. I think that says enough about it, lol. It's the only song that can really be considered mainstream or for the masses. Has a very simple song structure, but Simone still does a great job. Again, there are growls, but this time, I think they are actually out of place. Simple song, but still a good one.

La'fetach Chataz Rovetz:

Sort of an interlude song. Serves as an intro for The Embrace That Smothers concept that was done by Mark on previous works. Very arabic, and, well, cool.

Death Of A Dream:

Very epic start with the choirs. As soon as this song starts, it just puts you into it. Alternating vocal lines between Mark and the choir, done very nicely in my opinion. Interlude with an arabic melody that is really cool. Then bang! Sander Gommans from After Forever does some growls. I personally prefer his growls to Mark's because they're so much more deep, and, well...evil. But Mark has him schooled on screaming! Simone and Sander trade off some vocal lines as the song starts to get more and more epic. Closes with vocals by Simone and the choir over a heavy riff. Fantastic song.

Living A Lie:

Intro has the church choir feel which directly leads into growls. Not a particularly fast song, but has a good balance of singing by Mark and Simone. A Latin speech is done in the middle of the song (which I have no idea what it translates to) which goes into another heavy riff with choirs. The song continues to move along, and at the end there is some chanting to lead into the next song.

Fools Of Damnation:

Definitely a high point of the album. Starts off very arabic with chanting and Simone singing. Again, Simone's vocals are so clean and pure that is nothing less than breathtaking. The song builds, and Mark has some growls over the very arabic melody. Leads into a very long instrumental break which really showcases Epica's talent. Closes with more choir, Simone, and Mark over some heavy riffs. Amazing song in general...the most progressive on the album.

Beyond Belief:

I actually find this track quite forgettable. While not mainsream as Never Enough is, the song still has a very simple song structure. But, Simone still has a great performance, and wow! Ad's guitar solo! It may be short, but hey, it's good! And the fact that there is a guitar solo in an Epica song is good enough for me.

Safeguard to Paradise:

The official ballad of the album. Again, Simone is beautiful. I prefer Chasing the Dragon, but this is still really good. Overall, a beautiful song, and it's nice to have a little break from the constant heaviness of this album.

Sancta Terra:

Another song with a big arabic feel. Good song with Simone shining. I believe this is the only metal song that Simone gets to sing without growls. In the mid section of this song, we can hear some of Simone's very operatic vocals to contrast with her more poppy vocals on the majority of the album. Big ending with choir. Very sastisfying.

The Divine Conspiracy:

Very epic, starts off similar to a movie score. Very similar in many ways to the title tracks of Consign To Oblivion and The Phantom Agony. Some Simone, alot of choir, and alot of grunts. Another really heavy part like in the end of Consign To Oblivion. This is actually my least favorite of the title tracks, because, to me, it seems slightly uninspired. But, it's still a killer track, a very good conclusion to a very good album.

Conclusion:

This album is a must-have. The most amazing Epica has put out by far. Very heavy, very technical, and this is hard for me to say, but very progressive as a whole. Epica proves itself to be worthy to be listed in the prog archives. So, please, GO BUY IT!

4.3/5 stars.

Jshutt64 | 4/5 |

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