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EPICA

Progressive Metal • Netherlands


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Epica biography
EPICA were founded in 2002 by Mark Jansen who had just left AFTER FOREVER. The lineup was completed by Simone Simons on vocals, Ad Sluijter (guitars), Jeroen Simons (drums), Coen Janssen (keyboards) and Yves Huts (bass). In late 2003 they released their debut album "Phantom Agony". It featured a real choir, authentic string orchestra and very complex songwriting compared to their peers in the genre of female fronted symphonic metal, such as NIGHTWISH, WITHIN TEMPTATION or even AFTER FOREVER. In 2005 EPICA released their second album "Consign to Oblivion" which confirmed the style of their debut album, and additionally they released "The Score", an album based on a movie soundtrack which can be described as the typical Epica sound without drums, bass, guitars and keyboards - a purely classical approach.

The have continued to progress with larger-than-life releases "The Divine Conspiracy" and "Design Your Universe."



Why this artist must be listed in www.progarchives.com :
The band was cleared for addition by the prog metal team.



Discography:
Phantom Agony (2003)
Consign to Oblivion (2005)
The Score (2005)
The Divine Conspiracy (2007)
Design Your Universe (2009)

Epica official website

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Buy EPICA Music


The Solace SystemThe Solace System
Nuclear Blast America 2017
Audio CD$7.98
The Holographic PrincipleThe Holographic Principle
Nuclear Blast America 2016
Audio CD$6.52
$11.33 (used)
The Quantum EnigmaThe Quantum Enigma
Extra tracks
Nuclear Blast America 2014
Audio CD$10.49
$8.49 (used)
The Classical Conspiracy (2CD)The Classical Conspiracy (2CD)
Nuclear Blast America 2012
Audio CD$6.52
$8.00 (used)
Divine ConspiracyDivine Conspiracy
Nuclear Blast America 2012
Audio CD$7.73
$6.75 (used)
Design Your UniverseDesign Your Universe
Nuclear Blast 2012
Audio CD$6.52
$6.96 (used)
Consign to OblivionConsign to Oblivion
The End Records 2005
Audio CD$12.99
Requiem For The IndifferentRequiem For The Indifferent
Nuclear Blast America 2012
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$10.00 (used)
Phantom AgonyPhantom Agony
Import
Transmission Nl 2013
Audio CD$12.99
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Consign to Oblivion - Expanded EditionConsign to Oblivion - Expanded Edition
Import
Imports 2015
Audio CD$24.97
$18.09 (used)
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EPICA discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

EPICA top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.83 | 74 ratings
The Phantom Agony
2003
3.70 | 69 ratings
Consign To Oblivion
2005
3.30 | 22 ratings
The Score - An Epic Journey (OST)
2005
3.95 | 118 ratings
The Divine Conspiracy
2007
3.85 | 105 ratings
Design Your Universe
2009
3.59 | 84 ratings
Requiem For The Indifferent
2012
3.82 | 78 ratings
The Quantum Enigma
2014
4.03 | 48 ratings
The Holographic Principle
2016

EPICA Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.23 | 26 ratings
The Classical Conspiracy
2009

EPICA Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.10 | 11 ratings
2 Meter Sessies - We will take you with us
2004
4.00 | 2 ratings
Live at Rockpalast 2007
2007
4.21 | 10 ratings
Retrospect
2013

EPICA Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 1 ratings
The Road to Paradiso
2006

EPICA Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

5.00 | 1 ratings
The Phantom Agony
2003
0.00 | 0 ratings
Feint
2004
4.67 | 3 ratings
Cry for the Moon
2004
5.00 | 1 ratings
Solitary Ground
2005
0.00 | 0 ratings
Quietus (Silent Reverie)
2005
4.50 | 2 ratings
Never Enough
2007
4.00 | 3 ratings
Chasing the Dragon
2008
4.00 | 2 ratings
Unleashed
2009
5.00 | 1 ratings
Epica & Jšgermeister Memory stick
2009
5.00 | 1 ratings
This Is the Time
2010
4.00 | 1 ratings
Storm the Sorrow
2012
2.50 | 2 ratings
The Essence of Silence
2014

EPICA Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Holographic Principle by EPICA album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.03 | 48 ratings

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The Holographic Principle
Epica Progressive Metal

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

5 stars I can't put my finger on it, but there is definitely something that lifts this 2016 album to a higher plane than the one that came out just two years earlier. The intensity is still at the very high level, but Simone seems to be more in control on this one, as opposed to sometimes being swept away. It is bombastic, it is massively over the top, and the guitars have reined in just ever so slightly, although at times they still race off like bolting horses that have been given their heads. It is an overpowering aural assault on the senses, and I love it. The closest way I can think of describing it is like being at a version of Handel's "Messiah" with full choir and orchestra, but with Slipknot also being involved!

I was playing these two albums back to back the other day, and even without looking I knew when this one had started as there is a definite lift, a step up in just about everything. Symphonic over the top progressive metal just doesn't get any better than this. This is not something that can be played as background music, but rather demands full attention of the listener at all times, as this is all-consuming, and not for the fainthearted. I really do hope that the guys decided to come down to this part of the world for a show one day, as they must be incredible in concert. This is essential, nothing more, nothing less.

 The Quantum Enigma by EPICA album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.82 | 78 ratings

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The Quantum Enigma
Epica Progressive Metal

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

4 stars There is one word to describe this 2014 album that rises clearly above all others, "Intensity". The production on this album seems to have brought everything together at the highest volume possible, so much so that the listener is quite drained by all of it. Singer Simone Simons has a quite stunning voice, but to be honest she is sometimes drained out by the choir and also by the rest of the band so that she actually loses some of the impact. This is a real shame, as the album as a whole is an incredible piece of work, much more metallic than the band to which they are most often compared, Nightwish, with the twin guitars locked in and riffing hard. They are also more downtuned and there is the feeling that this a guitar based-band first and foremost, as opposed to keyboard-based. Of course, Epica have a second singer in Mark Jansen who favours death growls as opposed to the 'proper' singing of Marco Hietala, so there is a very different feel between the two acts.

In many ways I actually prefer Epica, as the intensity is palpable: here is a band that are all firing on all cylinders, rushing to the end, taking no prisoners. Sure, I would have preferred to have Simone's vocals higher in the mix, but perhaps I'm being just a little picky? This is a symphonic metal band who concentrate on the latter more than the former, and that's just fine with me.Yes, they slow it down here and there, but it is when they are at full gallop with the band playing hard and the choir singing their hearts out, and Simone striving to rise above it all, that they are at their very best

 The Holographic Principle by EPICA album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.03 | 48 ratings

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The Holographic Principle
Epica Progressive Metal

Review by javajeff

5 stars I absolutely love this album, and the bonus tracks are amazing as well. While the bonus tracks are not prog, they really showcase how great Simone Simons' voice sounds. The Holographic Principle is as good or better than any other Epica release. They took over right where the Quantum Enigma left off, and the band sounds tight, focused, and confident. Expect amazing musicianship and stellar vocals from Simone Simons. This is an excellent album for fans of Progressive Metal and Symphonic metal. I expect to enjoy it for a while, and it is a better option than some other big releases this year. Highly recommended. 4.5 stars.
 The Quantum Enigma by EPICA album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.82 | 78 ratings

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The Quantum Enigma
Epica Progressive Metal

Review by arcane-beautiful

4 stars While I did enjoy Epica's last album 'Requiem For The Indifferent', I did think that it was the bands weakest albums. I did like the change in direction that the band where attempting, but I did feel that while they did write some brilliant tracks, there was a mad amount of filler. But now the band have steered towards their older stuff yet still have held their newer influences and sounds.

Musically the band have definitely went into a more heavier direction, with the guitar sound being a lot more prominent and heavier on this album. This album has also seen the band bring back the focus on choirs, with the choir being a big main attraction on this album. One of the bands biggest positives has to be Simone's vocals, which in my opinion are the best they've ever been.

One of the bands biggest attractions would have to be the bands lyrics, with the band going in some interesting directions. Dealing with concepts on humanities inability to deal with aspects of reality which are too hard to contemplate (explaining the reference to the id, ego and superego on the album cover). I do believe the band have some pretty cool lyrical moments on this album, but sometimes the bands lyrics can be a little bit generic, although very rarely though.

The opening track 'The Second Stone' shows off one of the bands most interesting riffs in the past few years. Pretty catchy chorus carries the song too.

The first song to be previewed from the album 'The Essence Of Silence' has to be one of the bands strongest and most interesting songs to come out in a while. With an epic choir adding to the bands epic sound, the songs real highlight is the chorus which shows off some very impressive vocals from Simone.

One of the albums most interesting tracks is 'Sense Without Sanity -The Impervious Code' Lyrically dealing with a lot of different philosophical ideas being brought forward. The songs arrangement is also pretty interesting too.

The album's single 'Unchain Utopia' is a rather interesting choice for a single. With a chorus which is channelled by a choir based chorus, it is rather catchy, but I do find better and more obvious examples which could be used as the albums lead single.

The albums interlude 'The Fifth Guardian' is probably one of the bands best interludes in the past few years, with some lovely instrumental arrangements. The interlude is also a brilliant passage way into 'Chemical Insomnia.' A kick ass guitar riff and a pretty cool chorus, this song is definitely one of the strongest tracks on the album. Lyrically the song has a lot of beautiful poetry, which is strange because the song (which is about drug abuse) is quiet hard to do, but the band have done it before in their classic track 'Chasing The Dragon.'

One of the albums most anthemic and catchiest songs has to be 'Omen ' The Ghoulish Malady.' With an anthemic chorus and some pretty cool vocals, the song is one of the albums more sing all songs.

The album's final track 'The Quantum Enigma ' Kingdom Of Heaven Part II.' Being the bands most epic song in the past few years, with some pretty impressive arrangements, especially with some briliant clashes between clean and guttural vocals. Lyrically the song is pretty impressive too, attacking religion with some pretty interesting view points.

In conclusion, this is pretty much business as usual, but it is a definite step in the right direction when compared to 'Requiem For The Indifferent'. By a long shot this isn't their best album, but it is a pretty strong effort nontheless. Packed full of surprising tunes and showing a heavier sound to the band, fans of the band will definitely love this album.

7.9/10

Genres: Symphonic Metal, Progressive Metal, Death Metal, Extreme Metal, Power Metal

Country of origin: Netherlands

Year of release: 2014

 The Quantum Enigma by EPICA album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.82 | 78 ratings

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The Quantum Enigma
Epica Progressive Metal

Review by Evolver
Special Collaborator Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

4 stars The two or three members out there who follow my reviews probably already know that progressive metal isn't high on my list these days, but I've read a lot of good reviews for Epica, and my local CD store (yes, there are still a few of those around) was selling the new disk for a price I could not pass up.

So. Epica, true to their reputation, on this album plays a strong classical influenced prog metal, with vocals that blend a female vocalist, Simone Simon, with male death metal throw-up-in-the-back-of-your-throat grunts. And for once, the grunting isn't detracting too much from the music, although still overused, because, unusually, the words are unusually clear.

Musically, the emphasis is on energy. Metal is the prominent feature, with obvious classical influence, that often sounds like an aggressively amped up take on Rick Wakeman's "Journey To The Center Of The Earth". The addition of a choir and string section adds to that comparison.

But there are some flaws. Despite nearly every song having some passages that draw me in, there is far too much reliance on metal cliches used to fill in between the good parts. Especially grating are the drums of AriŽn van Weesenbeek. Technically, the guy is great. His precision licks and fills can be quite astounding. But listening to an entire album quickly shows that while the tricks he knows he knows well, his fills and jackhammer rhythms are all to similar, causing some tedium to these ears.

And while the choral and string arrangements are very impressive, the recording of these sections are not so much. There is a reverb on these sections, probably due to insufficient microphones, that give each group the sound of recording in a canyon. The rock band sounds clear on their own, but when strings and chorus are added in at the same time everything gets mushy.

On the plus side, the track The Essence Of Silence stands out. Delightfully bombastic and dark in it's arrangement, it veers the farthest away from the cliches I mentioned above, and makes me want to hear more. Other tracks, like the title track that closes the album come close to this, but only the one really impresses me.

3.5 stars. Rounded up because I'm in a good mood.

 The Quantum Enigma by EPICA album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.82 | 78 ratings

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The Quantum Enigma
Epica Progressive Metal

Review by Gatot
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Well ...it's been quite sometime that I have not listened to any kind of music with growling vocal style which under local term here in my country I call it as 'muntah kolak' even though Epica is not full with growling vocal. Obviously the clean vocal by Simone Simons (I like her appearance in Kamelot's DVD couple of years ago) in which she sing with power she possibly can, The result is truly an excellent power metal album packed with heavy orchestration from start to end of the album. I am the kind of person whom very easy and happy to enjoy any kind of music which has orchestra in its composition, be it real or just software manipulation like tons of softwares used in the Tangent's latest album. I am not quite sure how the boys in Epica produce the orchestra as part of their composition but for sure I do enjoy all passages of this album.

The opening orchestra Originem really blew me away at first listen as it produces dramatic sound to open this beautifully crafted album. It sets the overall tone of the album, really. It reminds me the first time I felt in love with Kamelot through their Karma album where it started with an orchestra titled as Regalis Apertura. Originem is really as good as Regalis Apertura. The music moves beautifully to the second track The Second Stonewith a full blast of power metal style complete with heavy riffs and double pedal bass drums that is running in full speed. Simone Simons proves herself as one of best metal vocalist with her pure, clear and powerful tones throughout the song backed with heavy music and male choirs. The orchestration still playing dominant role throughout the song.

The Essence Of Silence starts off ambient with a nice combination of violin sound and piano fills. The music then blasts off beautifully with male back vocal in growling style followed with clean vocal of Simone and female choirs. In some way it reminds me to Haggard 'Tales from Itheria' album even though the music is different. Victims Of Contingency kicks off nicely with string arrangements followed with the blast of double pedal bass drums that brings the music into full power metal style with male growling vocal backed with female choirs just before clean female vocal enters. Sense Without Sanity - The Impervious Code changes the mood of the music where now guitar riffs becomes quite dominant and female vocal delivers nice melody.

Unchain Utopia, unlike other tracks, starts with a choir an then followed with music blast that contains string arrangement and heavy riffs followed with toning down style when Simone enters her vocal line. The choirs now seem to dominate the song. The Fifth Guardian (interlude) is a very nice outfit in mellow style that represents a reasonable break after full blast of metal music from prior tracks. It's short in duration with approx 3 minutes containing some blends of eastern music and eerie vocal, backed with powerful violin-like sounds. I can consider this as a nice instrumental that bridges the next track. The nuance of this instrumental is sad in nature. It then shifts smoothly to the next one: Chemical Insomnia with full power of metal.

I love almost all tracks featured by this album including the tracks that follow: Reverence - Living In The Heart, Omen - The Ghoulish Malady. When it reaches Canvas Of Life, the music is tuned down to the fullest as it's basically a mellow song containing mainly vocal and guitar plus string arrangements. It's a very nice melodic mellow track where the drums are not typical double pedal speed tempo as this is a slow track. It's a very nice track. Natural Corruption brings back the power metal style. The album concludes with an epic from the album title: The Quantum Enigma - Kingdom Of Heaven part II which has an excellent composition. The music moves nicely from an ambient opening through wonderfully crafted string arrangement and moves in crescendo as drums come into play. The vocal part enters at about 2 minute after the opening. I like the interlude section which demonstrates simple orchestration with guitar riffs and choirs at the back. It's really nice music!

Musically, I think this band has progressed in the right direction from time to time as I remember vividly I only reviewed their album released in 2007 and I find there is so much progress of I look at this beautifully crafted album in 2014. I highly recommend you to have this album and you won;t regret especially if you like the heavy side of music. Keep on proggin' ...!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

 The Quantum Enigma by EPICA album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.82 | 78 ratings

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The Quantum Enigma
Epica Progressive Metal

Review by Second Life Syndrome
Prog Reviewer

4 stars After so many albums and so many wonderful performances, I wasn't sure if Epica could craft still another album that would please me and scratch that female-fronted metal itch I sometimes get. In fact, Epica is the only band that usually satisfies it. I'm happy to say, though, that their new album "The Quantum Enigma" is a worth successor to their legacy of excellence.

I am honestly surprised at the small things that Epica has added, and how these little details enrich an album that is basically by-the-books for the most part. Epica, if you are not familiar, is a female-fronted symphonic/progressive metal band with, well, epic and bombastic orchestral passages. Their music is huge and glorious, as it should be. In fact, Simone Simons, the singer, is pretty much my favorite female singer, and her operatic voice is the standard by which many judge all other female metal vocalists. With deep riffs, ethereal keys, symphonic elements throughout, and drums by "The Beast" himself, Epica's music is all or nothing. If you like it, you'll love it. If you dislike it, you'll hate it.

But, I was talking about small things, wasn't I? There are three things I've noticed on "The Quantum Enigma". First of all, the symphonics are much more integrated into the music. On previous albums, it often felt like the metal and symphonies were separate entities that would occasionally cross paths, but this album showcases a much more focused composition. Secondly, guitar and keyboard solos are present. Now, this isn't new, but there are actually several on this album, which is definitely a departure from previous works. On top of that, the solos are excellent. Lastly, this album seems to be their proggiest yet. With some really odd signatures and song structures, "The Quantum Enigma" really pushes their normally lukewarm progressive status.

Is the album any good, though? Yes, though there are some things that irk me a bit. The album is full of wonderful songs, which do require time to grow on you. The album begins with my favorite intro yet, "Originem", a classical piece that they allow to breathe. The next several tracks (up to and including #7) are the best on the album. Pulse-pounding and intricate at the same time, these songs are full of wonderful vocals from Simone, a rather interesting choice to restrain Mark Jansen's harsh vocals for the most part, and simply incredible interplay between the classical and metal elements of the music.

Specifically, "Victims of Contingency" is one of my favorite tracks of the year, as it opens with "The Beast" doing what he does best, but lets go with a delicate chorus. It's a divine song. Another favorite on this album is actually the interlude, "The Fifth Guardian". This Asian- inspired song is an instrumental treat that I was not expecting to hear on an Epica album. It's really something else.

Now, what did I dislike? First and foremost, I feel there isn't enough Simone. That may sound stupid, but the use of the choir is at an all-time high here, and they drown her out much of time. I was hoping, then, for the delicate ballads that showcased her voice on "Design Your Universe", but I still didn't get another one (the last album didn't either). Sure, this gives a very massive feeling to the album, but I still prefer some of the smaller, personal moments. "Canvas of Life" comes close, but not quite there. I also feel like many of the drum compositions were similar, as the use of the same blast beats is there quite a bit. In fact, my favorite tracks are the ones where the drumming is at a dynamic high. Lastly, and quite unfortunately, the title track, also subtitled "Kingdom of Heaven II", after what may be Epica's best song of all time (located on "Design Your Universe"), is a bit of a disappointment. When I heard the earthy vocal vibrations that introduce both parts, I was psyched. Yet, the song is a bit anti-climactic and drawn out for the sake of being long. It is not even close to the original.

So, then, Epica's "The Quantum Enigma" is a success, though not on par with "Design Your Universe" (still my favorite) or maybe a few others. Yet, it's an album that I expected, though with some extra things thrown in that I didn't expect. It's gigantic, beautiful, and celestial. Yet, there are some things that drag it down, and the band could really consider a radical sound change sometime soon. For now, though, I think fans and newcomers alike will really enjoy this album.

 Retrospect by EPICA album cover DVD/Video, 2013
4.21 | 10 ratings

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Retrospect
Epica Progressive Metal

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

4 stars As may be surmised from the name of this album, here we have a collection looking back over a period of time. In this case it was to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the band, and they put on a very special concert indeed to make it a memorable night indeed for their fans. Recorded last March in front of thousands of ecstatic fans at Klokgebouw (Bell Building) in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, the three-hour concert (which included accompaniment from the seventy piece Extended Rem'nyi Ede Chamber Orchestra and The Miskolc National Theatre Choir) was a very special night indeed. As well as using a full orchestra and choir to enhance their own brand of symphonic metal they had Floor Jansen (Nightwish, Revamp) join them for two powerful duets, while they also performed a special performance of their breakthrough single, 'Quietus', with founding members Jeroen Simons, Ad Sluijter, and Yves Huts. Released in November as either a double DVD or double Blu-Ray set: what I have here is the triple CD version, which is some three hours long!

Simone Simons has an incredible voice and obviously relishes the opportunity to show just what an incredible performer she is. The arrangements are incredible, with songs such 'Monopoly On Truth' bringing together the power of an orchestra at speed with a rock band, as well as the choir providing support to everything that is going on. Any review of Epica is going to bring forth a comparison with Nightwish, and I found myself doing exactly the same thing throughout. In some ways this album reminds me of Nightwish's superb 'End of an Era', but while both of these are incredible performances by soprano fronted symphonic metal bands, the Nightwish album wins as in my opinion they just have better songs.

But, there is no dispute that this is quite an achievement, showing that metal and orchestras can fit well together, and in this case it sounds as if they have always been that way. I can't comment on the visual aspects, but on the sound this has to be a 4* release at least, even though I prefer Nightwish.

 Requiem For The Indifferent by EPICA album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.59 | 84 ratings

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Requiem For The Indifferent
Epica Progressive Metal

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

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.

 Requiem For The Indifferent by EPICA album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.59 | 84 ratings

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Requiem For The Indifferent
Epica Progressive Metal

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator 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.

Thanks to MikeEnRegalia for the artist addition. and to Finnforest for the last updates

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