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Epica

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Dutch gothic metal band.
Line-up: Simone Simons (vocals) Mark Jansen (Guitars, composition, screams) Ad Sluijter (guitars, grunts) Jeroen Simons (drums) Coen Janssen (synth) Yves Huts (bass)

"Mark Jansen and his fellow musicians harbour a great interest in other cultures, especially Arab ones. The warmth with which people treat one anotherthere, but also the music from that part of the world. The varied sound of Epica reflects all that. Also influences from other parts of the world, including South-America found their way to the songs that figure on the debut album.
After a brief and stormy period as one of the creative king pins of the successful Dutch band After Forever, Mark Jansen felt compelled to start all over again recently. (...) The band works with a classically trained choir, whereas extra colour is added to the music thanks to eight strings: 3 violins, 2 violas, 2 cellos and a double bass. The red thread is mezzo-soprano Simone Simons, who with the style of a classically trained opera singer stays on top of the material. Epica is a band that is fond of contrasts. Solid guitars versus flawless choral singing and strings. The sublime singing of Simone Simons versus the excruciating grunts of Mark Jansen."
Epica Bio, epica.nl

 Epica Discography - Album / CD Reviews

**** 2003: The Phantom Agony

Track listing: 01) Adyta "The Neverending Embrace" 02) Sensorium 03) Cry for the Moon "The Embrace that Smothers - Part IV" 04) Feint 05) Illusive Consensus 06) Façade of Reality "The Embrace that Smothers - Part V" 07) Run for a fall 08) Seif al Din "The Embrace that Smothers - Part VI" 09) The Phantom Agony
"A new chapter in the successful book of Gothic Metal is written by guitarist and composer Mark Jansen (ex-After Forever), so forget everything you have heard so far and prepare yourself for the awesome beauty of Epica. Inspired by the Arab culture, Epica brings a unique blend of classical orchestra and choir, brutal grunts and screams and the exquisite mezzo soprano vocals of Simone Simons. (...) From the moment you hear the first notes of ‘Adyta’, you are captured by the beautiful and mysterious atmosphere of 'The Phantom Agony', where Arab and Latin influences are mixed with powerful drums and shredding guitars and garnished with grunts and screams by Mark Jansen. Vocalist Simone Simons is a true revelation, as she seemed to have walked right out of an opera, straight into Epica, and it is a pure delight to hear her sing. The use of a real choir as well as choir samples add to the atmosphere in the songs. (...) Of course, if you listen to The Phantom Agony, you hear a sound which is very similar to After Forever, no surprise as mark Jansen was one of the main songwriters in After Forever. However, do not make the mistake to view Epica as just a clone of After Forever! Epica is an entirely separate band with their own sound, that differs enough from After Forever, as it is less metal and more classical influences...."
-- Marcel, ProgPower Online, 7/03

***½ 2005: Consign to Oblivion

Track listing: 01. Hunab K’u ”A New Age Dawns” (Prologue) 02. Dance Of Fate 03. The Last Crusade “A New Age Dawns” I 04. Solitary Ground 05. Blank Infinity 06. Force Of The Shore 07. Quietus 08. Mother Of Light “A New Age Dawns” II 09. Trois Vierges 10. Another Me “In Lack’ech” 11. Consign To Oblivion “A New Age Dawns” III

"'Consign To Oblivion' is a bit of an unusual album. Not because the title or the artwork don’t make sense, but because it was rushed out a year and a half after 'The Phantom Agony', and as a result there’s something not quite right about the album’s sound. It’s the sound of a square peg being pushed into a round hole, of an oversized bung being shoved into a bottleneck, needless to say, it just doesn’t fit together properly. Epica should never rush their sound, but 'Consign To Oblivion' does unfortunately feel a little bit strained, and the result isn’t quite as satisfying as before. Nevertheless, Epica have far from lost their magic touch and 'Consign To Oblivion' is nothing like a bad album. It may be stuffed to Christmas-size portions with a little too much pretentiousness and not enough irony, but it ’s still an enjoyable Gothic Metal romp. (...) I was expecting 'Consign To Oblivion' to be an energetic, bombastic Gothic Metal explosion and in some ways it is. The production is a little weaker than on 'The Phantom Agony', though not enough to debilitate the album; the singing is a little weak and the death vocals are extremely sparse, being in only three songs. It is very much a Simone-dominated album. (...) However, before people start crying over their PCs and feeling like their favourite pet has just died, it should be made clear that Consign To Oblivion does one thing very well, and that is delivering many enjoyable Gothic Metal moments which you could listen to over and over again. There’s no bad music here, and on the surface the overall effect of the album is really quite pleasurable. However, deep down we all know that Epica are an inventive band and extremely creative, but this album doesn’t show these talents off. I’m sure they have the strength and the potential to write even more innovative music, but due to what is clearly some pressure on the part of Transmission to shove another album out onto the shelves quickly, there’s none of it here. 'Consign To Oblivion' should have been an album of eleven great tracks, not merely eleven good tracks, and it really shows that the band should be given the chance to develop their music and experiment. If this freedom is not given to them and the stranglehold is retained, the genre is in danger of losing one of its most valued contributors."
-- Sam B. Grant, Sonic Cathedral, 4/05

2005: The Score: An Epic Journey

Track listing: 01. Vengeance is Mine 02. Unholy Trinity 03. The Valley 04. Caught in a Web 05. Insomnia 06. Under the Aegis 07. Trois Vierges (Solo Version) 08. Mystica 09. Valley of Sins 10. Empty Gaze 11. The Alleged Paradigm 12. Supremacy 13. Beyond the Depth 14. Epitome 15. Inevitable Embrace 16. Angel of Death 17. The Ultimate Return 18. Trois Vierges (Reprise) 19. Solitary Ground (Single Version) 20. Quietus (Score Version)

Release date: Sep 2005

***¾ 2007: The Divine Conspiracy

Track listing: 1. Indigo ~ prologue 2. The Obsessive Devotion 3. Menace of Vanity 4. Chasing the Dragon 5. Never Enough 6. La‘petach Chatat Rovetz ~ the Final Embrace 7. Death of a Dream ~ the Embrace that Smothers part VII 8. Living a Lie ~ the Embrace that Smothers part VIII 9. Fools of Damnation ~ the Embrace that Smothers part IX 10. Beyond Belief 11. Safeguard to Paradise 12. Sancta Terra 13. The Divine Conspiracy
"The Obsessive Devotion kicks in like a classic power metal song before transcending into a mid-place verse. Think Kamelot meets Nightwish. At certain points, the song jumps into the growling vocals courtesy of founder Mark Jansen who has obviously been on steady course of Norwegian black metal when writing this album. Much like Nightwish’s 'Once' album, this album weaves between heavy metal and orchestra very successfully, with the two combining well on Menace of Vanity. Simone Simons sounds at perfect harmony singing to acoustics, orchestra, and metal, each style still showcasing her as an excellent, beautiful, and most importantly, competent vocalist. The highlight of the album is undoubtedly is the epical Chasing the Dragon, which starts off as a wonderfully innocent acoustic guitar with Simone Simons sounding incredibly powerful without exerting much effort. Slowly, the song builds through its hefty seven minutes adding ambience and drums, with the ambience building more layers the more the song progresses. Then hits a climax switching between grunts and sung vocals, which will be a love/hate moment depend on your preference. Though an excellent piece of music, you can’t hide from the fact this is a highly exhaustive album. Well over an hour’s worth of music and no song passes time quickly, making this easily an album to respect for musical endeavour though not lasting appeal."
-- Cameron Terry, demonszone.com, 8/07

***½ 2009: Design Your Universe

Track listing: 01. Samadhi (prelude) 02. Resign to Surrender (A New Age Dawns - Part IV) 03. Unleashed 04. Martyr of the Free Word 05. Our Destiny 06. Kingdom of Heaven (A New Age Dawns - Part V) 07. The Price of Freedom (interlude) 08. Burn to a Cinder 09. Tides of Time 10. Deconstruct 11. Semblance of Liberty 12. White Waters 13. Design Your Universe (A New Age Dawns - Part VI)
"Epica have decided to expand upon their sound in every conceivable way on 'Design Your Universe', with their familiar sounds pushed to previously unheard extremes. No Epica album is complete without a heavily orchestrated introduction piece, and Samadhi (Prelude) certainly fits the bill. Combining choirs and bombastic orchestration, the short piece adds an air of drama to the start of the album, with Resign To Surrender (A New Age Dawns Part IV) picking up seamlessly where the opener drops off. The added aggression this time around is certainly noticed from the outset, with Jansen’s growl predominant alongside Simons’ operatic efforts, while the symphonic aspect is well and truly upfront in their sound alongside the band themselves. Although Epica tend to get a little lost amongst the grandiose orchestral efforts, Resign To Surrender (A New Age Dawns Part IV) is definitely one of the album’s stronger moments, and a clear sign that they have pushed their sound to entirely new areas compared to their earlier efforts. The first single/promotional video clip Unleashed is easily one of the catchier and instantly recognisable songs on the album, with Simons’ melodies the central focus point throughout the song, while the follow-up tracks Our Destiny, the eastern tinged Burn To A Cinder and Deconstruct follow a similar path. Martyr Of The Free Word and Semblance Of Liberty see the band introduce something new to their trademark formula, with melodic death metal influences infiltrating their symphonic sound with great success, while the slower paced Tides Of Time and White Waters (which features a guest appearance from Sonata Arctica vocalist Tony Kakko) represent the ballads on the album. (...) Overall, 'Design Your Universe' is a good album, and a worthy follow up to 'The Divine Conspiracy'. But like most Epica releases, 'Design Your Universe' is a little bloated..."
-- Justin Donnelly, blistering.com, 10/09

2012: Requiem for the Indifferent

Track listing: 1 - Karma 2 - Monopoly on Truth 3 - Storm the Sorrow 4 - Delirium 5 - Internal Warfare 6 - Requiem for the Indifferent 7 - Anima 8 - Guilty Demeanor 9 - Deep Water Horizon 10 - Stay the Course 11 - Deter the Tyrant 12 - Avalanche 13 - Serenade of Self-Destruction 14 - Twin Flames (N. American Exclusive Song)

Release date: March 9, 2012
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Recommended Links:

The Official Epica site

Similar/Related Artists:

After Forever| Within Temptation | The Gathering | Sins of thy Beloved | Theatre of Tragedy | Inner Shrine | Therion| Tristania | Nightwish | Darkwell| Lacuna Coil | Sirenia | Delain

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