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Epica - Design Your Universe CD (album) cover




Progressive Metal

3.90 | 116 ratings

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Prog Leviathan
Prog Reviewer
3 stars It's often written that Epica mixes the best of death, gothic, power, and symphonic metal into one melodic package, a fair description for Design Your Universe, and while there is a ton of excellent stuff happening on this album, it seems to happen vacuum.

"Resign to Surrender" kicks in the door with the chugging crunch of guitar and an energetic momentum, as we're treated to Epica's signature sound of diverse vocals (growls, female leads, and choral backgrounds), bad-ass guitar licks, and a morass of symphonic sound effects. One's appreciation of the power-metal genre will probably make or break Design Your Universe, since you'll pretty much be inundated with if from start to finish. While it doesn't suffer from the bombastic excess of some of the more operatic bands, it still fits snugly within the conventions of the genre. Overall though, I'd say that Epica's instrumental work is a little more thrash than their peers, though the intensity doesn't hit as hard as, say, Pagan's Mind.

However, Design Your Universe has a lot of songwriting panache to make it stand slightly above the heap. This is thanks mostly to the variety at their disposal; there's a lot of stuff going on here. However, that doesn't necessarily mean that more is better. Simons' vocals-- probably the most unique thing about the band-- are good but not as great as I had hoped; her voice is pure and powerful but lacks much in the way of inflection or emotion. Fortunately there is a wall of chugging guitar and machine-gun drum blasts to support her soaring melodies. Solos are solid, but similar to Simons' vocals in that they are powerful but don't make an impression; beautiful but bland at the same time.

There is enough variety to keep most of the album interesting, and the extended pieces, like "Kingdom of Heaven" and Design Your Universe work quite well. Still, the tone of the album didn't grab me. There's clearly a lot of good stuff going on here that will probably appeal to power-metal fans-- of which I am one-- but this one needs to be a little less of a one-trick-pony and bring more gusto to the table for me to jump on the Epica bandwagon. Still great for an occasional listen though.

Songwriting: 4 Instrumental Performances: 3 Lyrics/Vocals: 3 Style/Emotion/Replay: 3

Prog Leviathan | 3/5 |


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