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Epica - The Divine Conspiracy CD (album) cover




Progressive Metal

3.95 | 121 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars On the face of things, Epica seems like many other groups, a power metal band with a classically trained female lead singer and a guitarist that does death metal growls, however this band is a step up from all those other groups because of one thing, the composition and orchestration of the songs. Many bands use the full orchestra sample to add to the depth of the sound in a song, but in Epica's case they use it as an integral piece of the music in an intelligent fashion, its not there just to provide the big grandiose sweeps but to add real depth and complexity to the music, used at its best on The Obsessive Devotion, Fools of Damnation and The Divine Conspiracy. A middle Eastern touch to many of the songs adds a unique feel to it as well. After becoming familiar with this album I can honestly say that Simone Simons is the most impressive female singer that I've heard, using her rich voice in the operatic style to its fullest whilst still remaining fully intelligible, something that I find is sometimes missing from that other famous operatic metal singer, Tarja of Nightwish. This is also one of the most captivating albums I have heard in the Progressive Metal category (not including the Experimental/Post metal and Tech/extreme genres) for a long time, something I put down to the combination of Simons singing and the aforementioned compositional strengths of the band, the music wasn't at all predictable in short and not a hint of the pretension that could have easily accompanied the orchestra.

That's not to say that this album is perfect as their are some faults. Firstly is the male vocals of Mark Jansen. At times he can sound rather good with that growling voice of his, really fitting into the music, but at times it can stray dangerously close to being terrible and just not fitting in properly. I cant help feeling that a deeper vice from someone like Kamelot's Roy Khan or Symphony X's Russel Allen would have worked much better for a decent amount of the male vocal lines, of which there are quite a few. The other major fault is in some of the musicianship. Its not that the band are low quality players reaching above their ability, because they do demonstrate in numerous places on the album that they can play very well, its just that they choose to play in a much less technically challenging way than they could, and this is something that I would really like to see them do. Overall, though, an excellent album and well worth every penny.

sleeper | 4/5 |


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