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Epica - The Divine Conspiracy CD (album) cover




Progressive Metal

3.94 | 122 ratings

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3 stars Ambitious, powerful, epic goth/symphonic metal

I'll never be a metal expert because I don't listen to enough of it, but I make a point to hear different genres when I can. All I knew about Epica was the frequent comparisons to Nightwish and other female-fronted metal bands, the so called "beauty and beast" thing which I'm sure drives them all crazy, but to me Epica is on the finer side of these groups. Guitarist Ad Sluijter describes the band's sound as "a bridge between power metal and gothic metal" and this sounds like a fair description.

"The Divine Conspiracy" is a highly entertaining drama of contrasts. Most obvious is the vocal contrast between the amazing pipes of Simone Simons who sings with both power and formal operatic prowess, and the deathly growls of Mark Jansen. Next would be the shift from the brutal guitar/bass/drums blasting to the quiet and contemplative moments of acoustic guitar and mellow singing, like the gorgeous opening to "Chasing the Dragon." The long and often intricate storybook compositions are fleshed out beautifully by strings and vocal choirs, not unlike what you would hear on certain Therion albums. The metal component is very tight and as mentioned, just brutal at times, at least to a relative metal toe-dipper like myself. "The Divine Conspiracy" is such a long and elaborate work I cannot do a play by play, but the work is big, bold, dramatic, fiery, and occasionally peaceful. The title track closes the album, a sprawling 14 minute beast that begins with grand orchestration and Latin vocals before plunging into the fire, and finally closing with a reprise of the orchestra. Overall I have to be in the mood for such a work, it can be exhausting if you're not prepared for the 75 minute assault. Broken into three lengthy and intricate "acts", the CD's booklet provides complete lyrics and nice artwork to help you navigate. This is a strong 3 stars for me but just shy of my 4 star criteria. I've heard their next album is even better than this so I'm looking forward to the Epica masterpiece.

Finnforest | 3/5 |


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