Epica - “Consign To Oblivion” - The End/Transmission Records - 2005
1. Hunab K’u 2. Dance Of Fate 3. The Last Crusade 4. Solitary Ground 5. Blank Infinity 6. Force Of The Shore 7. Quietus 8. Mother Of Light 9. Trois Vierges 10. Another Me “In Lack’ ech” 11. Consign To Oblivion “a New Age dawns”
Holland's Epica are one of those bands that are following a great path of music forged in the footsteps of bands such as Nightwish and Therion. They do this by combining Symphonic music with powerful Metal riffs mixed with the elements that their Mezzo Soprano lead singer brings to the table. The group also employs a full choir and that brings so much more of their music to life. As you listen you will find some traits of these bands but also a spark of originality that makes for a good overall listen. Epica was founded by After Forever’s Mark Jansen who left that band and began working with Simone Simons. Simone’s voice is as amazing as she is beautiful and from the moment I heard their debut “The Phantom Agony” I knew this was going to be a band I would be interested in.
There are many who call this group a second rate After Forever simply because the band utilizes the clean operatic style and the gruff Black Metal growls at points in the music like they do. It also doesn’t help the comparison when both groups feature a standout female vocalist. As someone who has listened to and reviewed both bands I would have to disagree for each one offers the listener something different. There are some similar writing styles as Jansen was a principal writer in After Forever yet with Epica there are more clean Male vocals than the growls used in the former band. Epica also slows it down a little more hitting a couple of ballads on the record where AF maintains a generally heavy course. I like both Floor Jansen and Simone Simons and rather than debate which one is better feel that anyone who enjoys Operatic Power Metal or Symphonic Metal should give each group a fair shot at an unbiased listen.
“Consign To Oblivion” begins with an Epic Adventure film score and as I listened I could envision the cast of players being shown on a big screen. From this the Metal Symphony begins and there are a number of stand out tracks to enjoy. My favorites from the album are “Dance Of Fate” for its mid-tempo drumming and creative guitar work. “The Last Crusade” really employs the Epica Choir a little more and is a very sing along worthy track. The choir is prevalent through the entire record and it is clear that this group has a lot more in common with the likes of Therion than Nightwish or After Forever. This six member “Epica Choir” and eight member “Epica Orchestra” take the overall production up to a different level. Simone shows her softer side in the song “Solitary Ground” and she can be as subtle as she is powerful. “Mother Of Light” is a fantastic number which employs the two vocal styles both light and dark with the choir making for a very dramatic piece on the record.
Fans of the band Kamelot will enjoy the duet that singer Roy Khan does with Simone in “Trois Vierges”. It’s a good track and Epica fans should look to the Kamelot release “The Black Halo” to hear Simone’s contribution on “The Haunting (Somewhere In Time) as well. Rounding out the lineup are a group of very talented musicians in Ad Sluijter (guitars), Coen Janssen (synths), Yves Hut (bass) and Jeroen Simons (drums) and the album was produced by Sascha Paeth (who also recently did the new Kamelot release “The Black Halo”). Overall this is a strong production but I am someone who already likes the band.
Thanks to the distribution efforts of The End Records a US Fan base is able to be formed for Epica who are signed to the Transmission Records label. The release comes with a 16 page color booklet that allows you to see the lyrics to the songs as well as a few pictures. They were lacking in sufficient band images with only one group and one solo Simons shot. The rest is Mayan artwork which is a part of the albums overall theme.
The best part about a band like Epica is that it adds to the number of Metal bands that are fronted by women who can inspire a new generation of followers. This is no longer a Male dominated genre and so far many of the contributions have been extraordinary. Do bands like Epica and After Forever have what it takes to succeed as much as Nightwish was able to? I feel that they are certainly on the right track – Only time will tell.
Official Web site: www.Epica.nl
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