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Epica - The Divine Conspiracy CD (album) cover

THE DIVINE CONSPIRACY

Epica

 

Progressive Metal

3.90 | 101 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars No scrimping

While "The divine conspiracy" is numerically Epica's fourth album, we should consider it their third, as "The score" sits apart as an orchestral soundtrack. Released in 2007, maintining a pattern of presenting their albums every odd year, this is a collection to satisfy those who were impressed by "The Phantom Agony" and "Consign to oblivion".

The main difference here when comparing the album to its predecessors is that the tracks have been developed more fully, the running times tending to be noticeably longer. The opening "The obsessive devotion" for example, when combined with the "Indigo" prologue, runs to an impressive 9 minutes. The piece immediately draws upon all the artillery Epica are renown for using, with orchestration, operatics and growling all combining in a veritable cacophony. The growling is a bit more intrusive throughout the album than we are used to, but it is sufficiently well disguised by the bombastic arrangements.

"Menace of vanity" features some of the most impressive chorales from Epica to date, the song being even more over the top than "The obsessive devotion". "Chasing the dragon" slows things right down at first, starting out as a gentle vocal piece before developing into a fine power ballad. Simone Simons offer one of her captivatingly emotional performances here as this epic piece twists through various moods before closing in a climactic burst. "Never enough" is a more orthodox song with a relatively straightforward composition being enhanced by a magnificent arrangement.

Four consecutive tracks in the middle of the album continue the "Embrace That Smothers" theme which last graced the band's debut. Here we have parts 7 to 9, preceded by their own mini-overture, "La'petach Chatat Rovetz - the Final Embrace". Part 7, "Death of a Dream" brings the growling to the fore a bit too much for my tastes, although thankfully it is again only used briefly. The piece is more than rescued by Simons' fine vocals and some excellent orchestration. "Living a lie" continues in a similar tempo and mood while featuring more impressive chorales. The final part of this play within a play, "Fools of damnation" alters the mood somewhat by introducing a distinctly eastern atmosphere. The track soon breaks out as a pulsating epic metal song running to almost 9 minutes. This song has more in common with bands such as Symphony X than the usual comparisons with the likes of Nightwish and Within temptation. It is generally heavier with a greater focus on the guitar riffs and pounding drums.

"Beyond belief" returns us to the more accessible power rock of their previous albums, although the track still includes a number of twists and turns along the way. "Safeguard to Paradise" is the first genuine ballad on the album, Simons offering a touching vocal accompanied by piano and sympathetic orchestration. "Sancta Terra" maintains the slower tempo, building to some fine operatic choruses.

The album closes with the 14 minute title track, a piece which reminds me a lot of Rhapsody's most indulgent, and thus most impressive, numbers. The piece weaves its way through pretty much every style and sound the band have incorporated on the album thus far. The centre piece of the track is an eclectic instrumental passage ranging from cinematic orchestration to the first genuine if all too brief burst of lead guitar we have had.

With a running time of over 75 minutes, no one could accuse Epica of scrimping. The extreme length of the album is due not only to an abundance of material, but to the full development of that material. Those who enjoy the band's style of epic metal in limited doses would be well advised to avoid listening to the album as a complete piece; unlike may prog albums, it does not demand to be listened to in that way. For those who enjoy their epic metal a bit on the heavier side, while retaining all the bombast and pomposity which defines it, here we have the ideal album.

Easy Livin | 4/5 |

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