Epica We Will Take You With Us
By Marcus Pan
Epica'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.
The End Records
Post: 331 Rio Grande #58, SLC, UT, 84101, USA
Phone: (801) 355-0963
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