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Epica - The Divine Conspiracy CD (album) cover

THE DIVINE CONSPIRACY

Epica

 

Progressive Metal

3.87 | 106 ratings

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AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
4 stars Epica's "The Divine Conspiracy" is another one of those orchestral metal albums with an operatic female vocalist in the same vein as Nightwish, Within Temptation and After Forever's style. In this case the female vocalist is Simone Simons and she is as accomplished a singer as Tarja or Sonja. The album is conceptual running tracks together and keeping a thematic content dealing with life, eternity, existence, good and evil. The opening track 'Indigo' is more or less a lush orchestral introduction to usher in the heavier tracks to come. The majestic structure prepares us for the onslaught of metal power riffing guitars and fast blasts of thrash on 'The Obsessive Devotion'. This is a sublime track with gorgeous strings overlayed with metal hooks, very brutal, haunting and dark. This is followed by 'Menace of Vanity'; a mediocre chanting carries it along and both Simons and Jansen take turns at vocals. 'Chasing the Dragon' follows, a beautiful balladic song with sweeping piano arpeggios and a minimalist soundscape.

'Never Enough' is a pop oriented track driven by Simons scintillating vocals and could easily be a single. 'La'petach Chatat Rovetz - the Final Embrace' is an orchestrated introduction to the next track, acting as a transition. 'Death of a Dream - the Embrace that Smothers part VII' is a 6 minute fast paced, heavy track that is majestic and uplifting.

'Living a Lie - the Embrace that Smothers part VIII' continues the multi part epic but the piece de resistance is definitely the wonderful 'Fools of Damnation - the Embrace that Smothers part IX'. This section has many time signature changes and some inspired instrumental breaks. The incredible blend of symphonic ambience and heavy riffing distortion works well. There are shades of light and dark between the soft soprano vocals from Simons and the caustic growling from Jansen.

'Beyond Belief' is a brilliant mix of operatic vocals, orchestra and crunching guitars. The excellent track ends on a heartbeat effect segueing to the hypnotic, haunting Gothic 'Safeguard to Paradise' that showcases Simons' crystalline vocals, an absolutely beautiful treasure.

'Sancta Terra' follows with symphonic horns and strings. It is mostly Simons singing and has slow passages mixed with blitzing fast metrical patterns, with many time shifts in pace and choral sections. The choral ensemble give the track a Gothic cathedral feel, and this multi layered vocal treatment is a highlight of Epica.

The last track is the multi movement suite epic played with virtuoso instrumentation. Simons is in full voice and lifts the ambience. 'The Divine Conspiracy' is a 14 minute classic with many different time sig changes and sections. There are female choral voices in a foreign tongue, then an operatic voice soar over the sound. There is a dreamy ambience which is broken by angular guitar riffing and Jansen's growls that darkens the atmosphere. There are some inspired riffs and the mixture of thrash and classical opera is delightful. The music is tight and creates a wall of sound.

Overall this is a stunning concept album with the mood ranging from heavenly to extremely sinister. It is my first intro to Epica and it was a pleasant surprise. The concept on the album means many things; "the divine conspiracy opens up reality, time is not the entity, life is what it's meant to be". The crunching guitar assault is juxtaposed with full blown orchestra throughout. It is an emotional experience, uplifting and dark at intervals. Take the Epica test now.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 4/5 |

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