CD Review

Epica – “We Will Take You With Us”

By Marcus Pan

We Will Take You With UsEpica's music is extremely different from labelmates Impaled Nazarene, Horna and Ritual Carnage who also released albums this month on The End Records. Epica is near operatic in make-up and fronted by the phenomenal newcomer Simone Simons. Other members of the band include Coen Janssen on keys, Ad Sluijter on guitar, Jeroen Simons on drums and Yves Huts on bass. The band is lead by Mark Jansen of After Forever, formed after he felt his journey with After Forever had run to completion.

Epica's first album, The Phantom Agony, came out in 2003 and was followed by Consign to Oblivion. The third release here, We Will Take You With Us, comes across as a better formed Evanescence, and will also please black metal fans with its dark male vocals that form an interesting duality against the sweet operatics of Simone and the rest of the chorale singers. The album takes on an epic poetry style with full orchestration and chorus portions starting with Facade of Reality on track one (about 9/11). Guitars are swift without being lost as another speed metal crescendo and there's many facets of Epica's music that make it stand out from others in both thrash and speed genres of metal music.

The piano of Sensorium were a welcome surprise. Again the sweet Simone takes a stance against the darker growls of the other vocalist to create a full bodied sound overall. Allusive Consensus takes Simone's vocals into high soprano while the guitars lift the song from below. Easily one of the best operatic/epic metal songs to date. Epica's work completely blows away that done by America's metalsmiths Metallica when they joined with the symphony orchestra a few years back. And Epica is building music as full bodied as that without the full orchestra that Metallica needed to just come close.

Cry for the Moon (the fourth part of the Embrace That Smothers series) is climactic as it builds, becoming a beautiful slow song, bigger than the CD that holds it. Male vocals are as blistering as ever, but is done so much better than virtually all other thrash bands because even though it's deep and growled, it's connected with the music and its movements and tone. Everyone else should take notes and lessons here. Surrounding guitars during this are brutal, heavy and couldn't have been better orchestrated had Beethoven and Bach formed a thrash group. The Phantom Agony opens as a classical music track and gets blasted again with powerful choral vocals and strong guitars who mesh wonderfully with the strings that opened the song.

Epica was a wonderful surprise from The End Records, who have been barraging me relentlessly with some of the heaviest and insidiously sinister European black metal to hit the streets. I was barraged for days by Satanic references, occult horrors and gory imagery by the label until Epica landed on my desk and showed itself to be a highlight to the label's entire stable of artists. Though powerful and just as strong, Epica lace their thrash with classical roots and multi-cultural ideals creating one of the best epic metal albums of the decade.

Contact Information:
The End Records
Post: 331 Rio Grande #58, SLC, UT, 84101, USA
Phone: (801) 355-0963
E-Mail: ebprint@sympatico.ca
Web: www.theendrecords.com

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