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5 stars the way to maturity

With "Requiem For The Indifferent" Epica have finally succeeded in producing a goth-black metal album, that can compete with the legendary and brilliant Tristania album "Beyond The Veil". The album keeps up the ascending line and the band have matured into a true leading band. More than before the album has become a true groups project.

The music has become more versatile and daring than on their previous albums. The arrangements are much better balanced. There is room for (excellent) solos by Isaac Delahaye and Simone Simons sings better than ever. The production sounds a lot better than "Design Your Universe" which still had that over-compressed and ear-tiring sound, that is so characteristic for so many modern metal productions. This time both the compositions and the production are more profound. Every minute on the album is a true joy for the ear. The instrumental parts are varied and offer lots of great musical moments, alternated with the captivating dark and sometimes heavenly sounding choral arrangements.

The music on "Requiem For The Indifferent" has become much more complicated, but don't think there are no smash hits to enjoy, just listen to the catchy and overwhelming "Storm The Sorrow". The sound on the album is solid and heavy, but also knows moments of subtleness and beauty. Check out "Delirium" and the beautifully sung "Deep Water Horizon", which could well score as a hit as well.

The choral arrangements are perfectly balanced and make you forget the earlier mentioned "Beyond The Veil". If you listen to compositions like the concluding "Serenade Of Self- Destruction" which once more summons up the actual musical possibilities of Epica is, in my eyes, close to overproduction and Epica should do well in taking care not falling into the same trap as Therion. Fortunately the unequalled sound quality puts in its proper place again.

It has been a long time ago that I so much enjoyed an album in this genre and I think Epica have set a new standard with "Requiem For The Indifferent", in sound production, but especially in musical regards. The five stars are well deserved !

Erik de Beer

Report this review (#679722)
Posted Friday, March 23, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars If you're a fan of female fronted metal, or even if you're not but you're a fan of metal, there are probably two names that you first associate with the phrase "female fronted metal" - Nightwish and Epica. Epica have steadily risen from relative obscurity to being pretty definitive in the modern world of metal, and what's more: they have yet to release a weak album. If you are unfamiliar with their style, I will tell you that Epica masterfully blend sublime operatic soprano vocals, orchestration, choral work, heavy (not just in categorization) guitar and drum work, and just the right amount of growls (and I'm not usually a fan of growls) together to create what is often referred to as "Beauty and the Beast Metal." If you are familiar with their work, I will tell you that I think Epica have stepped it up a notch and gotten a bit, dare I say, more Progressive in this album, both in their compositions, and they have also began to throw in some fancy guitar solos. When asked what my favorite Epica album was, I have also thought "The Divine Conspiracy" was an easy choice, but with this release I find it hard to pick just one....
Report this review (#684300)
Posted Sunday, March 25, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars Well this is such a prestigious and experienced band in this area.

Technically and excellent great musicians and arrangements.

Beautiful vocals and better in my opinion than NightWish or Therion ones for Ex.

Very good songs...ballads beautiful.

So where is my disagreement here:

1)Growls and growling...¿Is not out of fashion? I understand is the demoniacal part so bad for every song...neither Opeth is nowadays using it.

2)Good songs.. ¿.but is for this excellent band an original prog metal work?..When i listen i feel like listening another Nightwish or Therion album(and in my opinion last Nightwish work is better).

So a little disappointing for those last reasons and in my opinion this act is not an excellent addition to prog. metal.

3 stars.

Report this review (#693287)
Posted Tuesday, March 27, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars (This album is a lot like the new Cannibal Corpse album?not in style, just in the way I feel about it)

Why I haven't gotten round to reviewing one of these guys albums yet is a mystery to me...cause I really do love this band. But sure, I'm reviewing all the new stuff now, so I might as well give my opinion about this knew one.

Now Epica have been a band I have really loved for quite a long time now. Ever since The Divine Conspiracy (which is definitely one of the best symphonic metal albums ever made) I have been a fan. Now their last album Design Your Universe I haven't really gotten around to listening too, and I don't physically own a copy of their first 2 albums (although I do know they are 2 amazing albums). So I was excited to actually sit down and listen to this one.

Now, I was slightly disappointed with this one?but it's still not a bad album.

There is a definite slight change in direction with this album, but with good intentions. Usually the choirs and orchestration are really over the top in Epica albums, but with this one, they've taken a slight backseat. They are still there, don't get me wrong?just not as in the limelight as they where. The guitar sound has improved as well, and the guitar playing (I think someone has been listening to Dream Theater in my opinion).

The vocals as usual from Simone are amazing as always (she really is one of the best female metal vocalists, and she is always underlooked). But the biggest surprise from me is that Marks vocals really are improving, and in my opinon are becoming a real highlight of the band. Also the drummer is doing some grunts now as well, which is pretty cool.

As usual, Epica's lyrics are always a little bit better than most metal bands, whether they're singing about mental health, politics, philosophy or just life in general. Both Simone and Mark are great lyric writers.

The only problem I can see with the album is that there are only moments that really grab my attention. Usually with an Epica album, every song is stuck in my head after listening to it, but with this one, at the most 2 have really became Epica classics.

But?that's my opinion really.

1. Karma ? A nice little intro. 6/10

2. Monopoly Of Truth ? Ok, now this is the way you start an album. Such a kick ass song. This song seems to show Epica's more proggier approach, which I have to admit, sounds amazing. There is also a riff in this song which Epica stole from me?now I have proof I wrote it 4 years ago?but I'll let them have it this time. 10/10

3. Storm The Sorrow ? Ok, this is the single from the album, and I can see why. I really didn't expect this song to be that good. Love the choir arrangements. Such an epic ending. 10/10

4. Delirium ? Beautiful vocal intro. I love the choir arrangements in the song. There is some really beautiful moments in this song. 8/10

5. Internal Warfare ? The verse melody reminds me of Alladin, for some odd reason. There is some really dark moments in this song. Great lyrics. 7/10

6. Requiem For The Indifferent ? Nice middle eastern sounding intro to the song. Mark's vocals are pretty killer in this song. Nice chorus. The lyrics are the best part of the song in my opinion, and really bring up some pretty cool topics like recession and the current economic climate. 9/10

7. Anima ? A nice piano interlude. 5/10

8. Guilty Demeanor ? Pretty kick ass song, and it's pretty quick too. Some nice lyrics too. 8/10

9. Deep Water Horizon ? The changes throughout this song are pretty odd, but interesting nonetheless. The instrumental section in this song is epic as hell. 8/10

10. Stay The Course ? Killer vocals from Mark. Pretty epic at times. 8/10

11. Deter The Tyrant ? The use of the choir is pretty epic. Kick ass song with a pretty cool chorus. 8/10

12. Avalanche ? Great use of vocals in this song, especially from Simone. Cool chorus too. 8/10

13. Serenade Of Self-Destruction ? Ok, for those that don't know, there was a total cock up in the mixing and distribution of this album. For some odd unfathomable reason, the vocal tracks for this song where taken out...which really is like taking the cake out of a birthday cake. So no mark for this one. I blame Nuclear Blast. The only time they've done me wrong.

14. Nostalgia ? I can see why this wasn't on the album. It's alright I guess. The vocals are the highlight really. 6/10

CONCLUSION: This is their weakest album in my opinion. It's still pretty great, but comparing it to there others, it's their weakest. I would recommend this album to a metal fan, but if someone really wants to get into Epica, I would suggest something else.


Report this review (#718482)
Posted Monday, April 9, 2012 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
3 stars Epica's "Requiem For The Indifferent" is an album that resonates with orchestral symphonic beauty and merges with the extreme end of death metal. It begins with a choir and full blown orchestral arrangement with swooping strings and horns on 'Karma'. There is a dense choral majesty like Magma or Therion choirs.

'Monopoly on Truth' breaks into intense metal distortion and Mark Jansen's metal rasping growls as intense as Mortification or Sepultura, and this is counterbalanced by Simone Simons' operatic vocals. 'Storm The Sorrow' is another heavy blaster with power chords and intricate riffs merged with symphonic layers. Simone is capable of some exquisite beauty on vocals such as with the very pretty 'Delerium'. This has lovely ribbons of flute, creating a mesmerising gorgeous atmosphere of tranquillity, that is so tranquilising,after all the shredding.

'Internal Warfare' is a tirade of Dream Theater metal riffs, off sync and punctuated with sudden stops in the rhythm with jarring effect. The time sig is fractured and there is a symphonic orchestra that is omnipresent beneath. The stirring choirs are also a key factor in the Gothic atmospheres generated. The growling vocals are disconcerting after all the classical references but they balance it out well. The fret melting lead work is battled out with high speed keyboard fingering. Soprano vocals emanate in the choir, complimented by Simone's vocals.

The highlight is the title track where Arabian flavours are joined by a fast complex razor sharp metal riff that blazes away, then growls now and then are heard along with Simone's angelic singing. The breaks are sudden and striking, the choirs get more forceful as the melody locks in with a fast cadence. The precision galloping riffs are exhilarating. The growls snarl venomously and the sig switches into a measured rhythm. The lead guitar arpeggios and pentatonic scale is extraordinary over breakneck drumming. Then it relaxes into a measured tempo with lovely shades of flute, and sweeping strings. Simone joins the melancholy atmosphere but it is short lived and Jansen's growls return sounding angry and evil. The choirs add a sense of grandeur and cap off a spellbinding track of immeasurable dexterity and intricacy.

'Anima' is a short piano and strings interlude, a calm in the eye of the storm, that is followed by 'Guilty Demeanour', an outbreak of thunderous metal. The horns and guitars open proceedings then a tempo of complex riffs locks in, the choirs are on standby coming in at the counterpoint of strings and bass, with an incessant pounding drum. The lyrics focus on dying for all, traditional Gothic themes, "burnt and crucified, haunted and if I belong, break my back against the wall."

Acoustics open 'Deep Water Horizon', with Simone's soloing very pretty and then it builds to a stirring chorus. This has a compelling melody and even when the metal riff begins to chug it retains a haunting beauty. Serrations of violins sweep through as the pace quickens and growls return briefly. The lead break is an incredible elegant melody soaring, then a speed metal tempo shreds through, until the final section that switches time sig yet again; an incredible song from Epica.

'Stay the Course' is one of the heaviest songs beginning with rasping vox and a darkened mood of choirs competing over crunching riffs. Simone balances out the gritty distortion with her high pitched resonances. It kind of sounds like Napalm Death infiltrated the London Symphony Orchestra and Mormon Tabernacle Choir; very bizarre and extremely heavy. It ends with Simone singing some nice melodies but this is all over the place and a genuine oddity.

'Deter The Tyrant' is another metal blaster that has Jansen's growls and operatic vocals interchanging throughout. There are some narrative dialogue samples that have some political connection, and again the time sigs change constantly and within there is a powerful melody.

'Avalanche' begins acoustically with Simone softly singing a dreamy melody, "in another time you left me for someone else to serve your every need and set your world apart, the strain is now unbearable." Growls come in, the dark side of the music punching a hole into the serenity. The rhythm gets faster and symphonic strings sweep over.

The last song is 'Serenade of Self-Destruction' opening with minimalist piano and birdsong vocals. Then the violins slice along with a pounding metal rhythm. Magma choirs are heard and then the growls return. It is a trademark sound of Epica that will either grow on the listener or make them run for cover. The battle between good and evil continues with Simone duelling with Jansen. The atmosphere grows with majestic choirs, male bass sections balanced with female opera sections. It is an effective device and overseeing all is Simone's constant acrobatics. The pace quickens in an instrumental break with massive riff gallops and orchestral arrangements of cinematic grandeur.

The one thing that keeps me inspired is the merging of the two mediums as both are at the extreme ends, at polar opposites usually, but the classical meets metal surprisingly works if it is handled correctly. Epica have mastered this style along with other Gothic female fronted metal artists. I am no fan of death metal growls, and when the growls come it feels dated as prog metal is slowly pulling out of this phase, but at least Epica balance their music with complex riffs, orchestration and beautiful female vocals. "The Divine Conspiracy" is better if you are after something conceptual and progressive. Epica's "Requiem For The Indifferent" is an album that will appease their fanbase and metalheads will adore it, along with those who enjoy Gothic metal blended with orchestral beauty with an angelic vixen at the helm.

Report this review (#851542)
Posted Tuesday, November 6, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars Although I am quite taken with some symphonic-inclined "Beauty and the Beast" metal - I quite like the debut by The Sins of Thy Beloved, for instance, though it's more gothic than symphonic - I've always found myself markedly underwhelmed with Epica's work. The fact that they've released an album called "Requiem for the Indifferent" seems to me an act of unintentional self-parody, since indifference is precisely what the album inspires in me.

Sure, the production is alright, the performances are up to scratch, in general it's not terrible, but at the same timethere's a certain soullessness to the proceedings. It feels to me that, in common with many symphonic acts, Epica realised they've hit on a style which, whilst it won't make them global megastars, at least consistently yields a reasonable level of commercial success (they might not be mainstream material in the UK but they've done alright in many of the European album charts, for instance) and so they're yet again going through the motions. An alright listen if you're into this style of metal, but hardly a classic, or even on its way to being a classic.

Report this review (#897549)
Posted Tuesday, January 22, 2013 | Review Permalink

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