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Epica - The Divine Conspiracy CD (album) cover




Progressive Metal

3.95 | 139 ratings

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4 stars Epica have finally proven themselves. This album is a step away from anything done before, a step away from the established norms of gothic metal and a step into a symphonic world that other symphonic bands never touched. What Epica have done is what the progressive bands of the 70's had done, and that is take an inspiration from real classical music. Many symphonic bands are completely metal bands and just throw in symphonic elements to craft a bigger sound. Epica, on the other hand, merge their sound with classical music to create true orchestral metal. Many fans don't like that, complaining that the middle of the title track is boring and that the song drags on too long, for example. In my opinion, this album is at times utterly amazing, but still a bit short of what they are truly capable of.

For those unfamiliar with Epica, they are a part of the new wave of symphonic goth metal which includes Within Temptation and After Forever, but by this point in their careers, Epica has also crossed into the broader symphonic scene which includes Nightwish and Kamelot. Of all these bands, Epica mixes the orchestra the loudest and most bombastically, and also features the most complex parts. At first they sounded like an imitation of After Forever, but by now they have taken an interest in classical music, especially soundtrack music and romantic era composers, that sets them apart. They have also taken an interest in underground metal bands, even having performed covers of bands like Death in the past. This tie with death metal, black metal, and thrash metal has helped their sound considerably, leading to much better metal riffs than those found on Nightwish or even Kamelot.

The individual performances are quite noteworthy. There is a new drummer on board named AriŽn Van Weesenbeek, a session drummer who previously worked for God Dethroned. He has drummed considerably more intense and heavy than the previous drummer, but also more creatively and more dynamically. My only complaint is that sometimes he sounds a bit sterile, playing too perfectly. Mark Jansen and Ad Sluijter team up to write some utterly sick guitar riffs, and much more technical than the previous album, but the sickness is not a constant, and sometimes the best riffs even sound out of place when played right after a riff that isn't so great. Simone has improved as a vocalist, although she has quite a way to go before she enters the pantheon of great vocalists. She has learned a lot about singing more emotively, and has several moments such as the song Fools of Damnation or the beginning of Death of a Dream that show her potential.

I won't go into an individual review of the songs themselves since it has already been done by other reviewers. My general opinion is that this album has a few weaker songs and a few stronger songs, but it is best viewed as a whole. A couple songs do warrant a mention however. Indigo is the most beautiful orchestral opening to an album I have ever heard. I rate it higher than the opening to Kamelot's Ghost Opera. The title track is an epic that blows all of their other epics out of the water.

Overall, this album is a step up from their previous one, and almost a masterpiece but not quite.

Nuke | 4/5 |


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