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Epica - Consign To Oblivion CD (album) cover




Progressive Metal

3.68 | 71 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Consign to repeated listening

Released 2 years after their debut, Epica's "Consign to Oblivion" sees the band adopting an "if it ain't broke don't fix it" approach. Indeed, not only does this album follow on seamlessly from "The Phantom Agony", it would fit equally well in the discography of Mark Jansen's previous band After Forever. The overall concept of the album revolves around the Mayan culture which has been "Consigned to oblivion". Intriguingly though, the sleeve notes advise us that the longest time cycle of that culture comes to an end in 2012, although it is unclear what will happen at that time. Watch this space..

The albums opens with a suitably pompous overture featuring orchestra and choir, sounding for all the world like the theme to an epic western. As we segue into "Dance of fate", the double paced drums and anthemic chants could be mistaken for one of Rhapsody's Hollywood metal excesses. Only when the pure tones of Simone Simons mezzo-soprano vocals hit the screen do we find the band's signature.

It is of course easy at this stage to make valid comparisons with the work of Nightwish, who plough a similar furrow. Although the two bands do indeed march to similar drums, there are clear differences between them. Epica for example appear to place more emphasis on the pomposity, and to these ears are generally heavier. This makes the contrasts between the metallic basis of the songs and the choral arrangements even more marked, the opening segment of "The last crusade" being a good case in point.

Simons comes to the fore on the fine power ballad "Solitary ground", one of a number of songs where she writes her own lyrics. The following "Blank infinity" combines that ballad style with the epic metal of the bulk of the album, thus forming a good transition song. "Force of the short" is the first track here to include growled vocals, but these are suitably masked by the loud and progressive arrangement, and contrasted by soprano chorales.

We revisit Rhapsody territories for "Quietus", which opens with folk like harpsichord leading to a Nightwish like power metal number. Four of the eleven tracks are nominally linked by the sub-title "A new age dawns", although the link appears to be thematic rather than musical. These tracks are not contiguous, but spread throughout the album. "Mother of light" is the third such piece, the previous two being the opening overture and "The last crusade". The track mixes a looser style of pop rock type vocal with fast operatic bursts and a fine core of softer vocal.

"Trois Vierges" was originally written for the film "Joyride", the song featuring guest vocals by Roy Khan of Kamelot alongside Simons. The song is a strangely reflective number which does not really fit with the rest of the album. Normal service resumes though with "Another me", a song which captures the Mayan doctrine that "What goes around comes around" or to put it another way "You reap what you sow". The song is a more orthodox pomp metal number with operatic overtones. The title track, which closes the album, forms the final part of the "New age dawns" quartet. This epic piece is by far the longest on the album at a shade under 10 minutes. Here the band draw together all the strands which make up the album in a wonderful cacophony of opera, orchestra, growls, metal and melodic vocal.

In all, a fine album which will appeal to those who enjoy the music of Rhapsody, Nightwish, After Crying etc. There is nothing particularly original or different here, so the album does not distinguish itself from its peers to any great extent. It is though a highly enjoyable piece of over the top pomposity.

The "Limited edition" version includes a DVD which contains a superficial introduction to each of the band members and some studio footage. Unfortunately, apart from a clip from a gig at the end (which sounds like it has been overdubbed), there is little in the way of performance and no videos. To that extent, the DVD is an opportunity missed.

Easy Livin | 4/5 |


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