EPICA
Symphonic Metal / Metal Related • Netherlands

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Epica is a symphonic metal band from The Netherlands, founded in 2003 by guitarist and vocalist Mark Jansen subsequent to his departure from After Forever. The band currently consists of Simone Simons (vocals), Mark Jansen (guitars, vocals), Isaac Delahaye (guitar), Yves Huts (bass), Coen Janssen (keyboards, synthesizer), and Ariën van Weesenbeek (drums).

Epica performs a blend of progressive metal and symphonic metal with some elements of gothic and power metal. Former guitarist Ad Sluijter describing the band as "a bridge between power metal and gothic metal.". Vocalist Simone Simons has expressed a preference for the group to be described as symphonic metal though the founder of the group Mark Jansen notes that they do not mind being called gothic metal.

In early 2002, Mark Jansen left After Forever due to creative differences and began looking for musicians to integrate a new musical project, initially named Sahara Dust. In late 2002, the
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Quantum EnigmaQuantum Enigma
Extra tracks
Nuclear Blast Americ 2014
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RetrospectRetrospect
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Nuclear Blast America 2013
Audio CD$22.50
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Requiem for the IndifferentRequiem for the Indifferent
Nuclear Blast America 2012
Audio CD$6.87
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Design Your UniverseDesign Your Universe
Nuclear Blast 2009
Audio CD$6.97
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Consign to OblivionConsign to Oblivion
The End Records 2005
Audio CD$12.99
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Transmission 2005
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Seoul Records Kr 2003
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The End Records 2005
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EPICA Discography

EPICA albums / top albums

.. Album Cover 3.19 | 14 ratings
The Phantom Agony
Symphonic Metal 2003
.. Album Cover 3.73 | 14 ratings
Consign to Oblivion
Symphonic Metal 2005
.. Album Cover 3.48 | 4 ratings
The Score
Metal Related 2005
.. Album Cover 3.71 | 27 ratings
The Divine Conspiracy
Symphonic Metal 2007
.. Album Cover 4.38 | 27 ratings
Design Your Universe
Symphonic Metal 2009
.. Album Cover 4.10 | 20 ratings
Requiem for the Indifferent
Symphonic Metal 2012
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
The Quantum Enigma
Symphonic Metal 2014

EPICA EPs & splits

.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Hi Five - Female Fronted Metal
Symphonic Metal 2007

EPICA live albums

.. Album Cover 4.00 | 2 ratings
We Will Take You With Us
Symphonic Metal 2004
.. Album Cover 4.48 | 3 ratings
The Classical Conspiracy
Symphonic Metal 2009

EPICA demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

.. Album Cover 3.00 | 1 ratings
Cry for the Moon
Symphonic Metal 2002

EPICA boxset & compilations

.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
The Road to Paradiso
Symphonic Metal 2006

EPICA singles (9)

.. Album Cover
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Phantom Agony
Symphonic Metal 2003
.. Album Cover
0.00 | 0 ratings
Feint
Symphonic Metal 2004
.. Album Cover
0.00 | 0 ratings
Cry for the Moon
Symphonic Metal 2004
.. Album Cover
0.00 | 0 ratings
Solitary Ground
Symphonic Metal 2005
.. Album Cover
0.00 | 0 ratings
Quietus (Silent Reverie)
Symphonic Metal 2005
.. Album Cover
0.00 | 0 ratings
Never Enough
Symphonic Metal 2007
.. Album Cover
0.00 | 0 ratings
Chasing the Dragon
Symphonic Metal 2008
.. Album Cover
0.00 | 0 ratings
Unleashed
Symphonic Metal 2009
.. Album Cover
0.00 | 0 ratings
This is the Time
Symphonic Metal 2010

EPICA movies (DVD, Blu-Ray or VHS)

.. Album Cover
0.00 | 0 ratings
We Will Take You With Us
Symphonic Metal 2004

EPICA Reviews

EPICA Requiem for the Indifferent

Album · 2012 · Symphonic Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Warthur
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.

EPICA The Phantom Agony

Album · 2003 · Symphonic Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
H. Siedler
I am a defensor of this album! While some people say it is overrated, I say it is fabulous! Let me explain why:

1) This album is different from other similar proposals. The voice is the star here! Everything is made to let the voice shining. And it shines a lot! 2) The drummer is fantastic!!! Speaking about instruments, the drums are the highlight! This guy is intelligent, precise and creative! You can feel here a virtuous drummer who doesn't want to grab all the public's attention! His composition is brilliant! 3)The string arrangements! It's not an entire orchestra, but it's powerful! Carefully arranged, it fit's as a glove! 4) The choir! Sometimes, it reminds me a gospel choir. This album wouldn't be the same without it!

The downside in here: 2 guitars and nothing to emphasize. No solos. Nothing special. The same about the bass.

The songs are gorgeous! Strong lyrics! Lyrical parts, soft parts, heavy parts and even some swing parts. You just don't get tired of listening to this album. To me, despite the simplicity, is one of the greatests symphonic rock/metal albums ever.

Elegancy, simplicity and good-taste. 4 and a half stars!!!

EPICA Requiem for the Indifferent

Album · 2012 · Symphonic Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
dtguitarfan
If you're a fan of female fronted metal, or even if you're not but you're a fan of metal, there are probably two names that you first associate with the phrase "female fronted metal" - Nightwish and Epica. Epica have steadily risen from relative obscurity to being pretty definitive in the modern world of metal, and what's more: they have yet to release a weak album. If you are unfamiliar with their style, I will tell you that Epica masterfully blend sublime operatic soprano vocals, orchestration, choral work, heavy (not just in categorization) guitar and drum work, and just the right amount of growls (and I'm not usually a fan of growls) together to create what is often referred to as "Beauty and the Beast Metal." If you are familiar with their work, I will tell you that I think Epica have stepped it up a notch and gotten a bit, dare I say, more Progressive in this album, both in their compositions, and they have also began to throw in some fancy guitar solos. When asked what my favorite Epica album was, I have also thought "The Divine Conspiracy" was an easy choice, but with this release I find it hard to pick just one....

EPICA The Divine Conspiracy

Album · 2007 · Symphonic Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
dtguitarfan
I remember discovering this album and laughing with joy as I listened to it the first time. I absolutely LOVED the theatrical orchestral arrangements layered underneath heavy metal guitars and drums, the operatic soprano of Simone Simmons juxtaposed with the growling death-metal vocals. I will be honest here - I have never been a huge fan of death-metal growling. It has turned me away from some bands - some that I later decided to give a fair trial and was able to enjoy despite the growls, and some I never could get into. I like to compare death-metal growling to hot sauce - different people have different tolerance levels of it, but there's almost always a point at which it's too much, and another point at which it's just right and makes a dish oh so interesting. Epica, I believe, is one of those bands that uses just the right amount of growling - juxtaposed with the operatic soprano vocals, it makes things oh so interesting, and this particular album of theirs has become one of the most frequently played in my collection.

EPICA Requiem for the Indifferent

Album · 2012 · Symphonic Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
adg211288
Requiem for the Indifferent is the sixth album from Dutch symphonic metal band Epica. It’s been a few years since they last released an album and I have to be honest, Requiem for the Indifferent always stood as my most anticipated symphonic metal release of 2012. Their last few works easily stand as testament to the band’s credentials as one of the genre’s finist acts. The album was unfortunately released with its final song, Serenade of Self-Destruction, missing the vocal tracks due to an error. Nuclear Blast has released this song as a free download for the time being but hopefully future pressings of physical copies will contain the correct track.

Requiem for the Indifferent continues the natural progression of Epica’s sound that has been in evident throughout their career, but especially since the release of The Divine Conspiracy (2007), and by extension Mark Jansen’s newer group MaYaN’s debut album Quarterpast (2011). I’d say that the album can be quite fairly considered just as much to do with progressive metal now as it can symphonic metal. While they’ve had prog leanings for a while, perhaps most evident in previous album Design Your Universe’s (2009) epic centrepiece Kingdom of Heaven, here they’re no longer in the shadows; very much out in the open. Epica produced a couple of symphonic metal masterpieces with their last couple of albums as far as I’m concerned, Design Your Universe especially, but the song they’re producing here is definitely what I’ve been waiting to hear from them.

It’s typical then that Requiem for the Indifferent seems hell-bent on blowing up in their collective face. From the error affecting Serenade of Self-Destruction to the generally poor production job by Sascha Paeth there seems to be something around every corner that will hold the album back. The former I can overlook since it isn’t the band’s fault. It isn’t something that should be allowed to happen but I can overlook it all the same. The latter however is a kick in the teeth to say the least, especially since based on the actual songs this is another high quality Epica release. Maybe not overall on quite the same level of quality as their last two, but I’m still confident about its standing as an exceptional follow-up based on the songs here. The production is another matter. It’s not terrible as such but it doesn’t do the music any favours either. It just sounds...flat. The guitars are the worse effected. I’m used Epica producing a powerful and heavy symphonic metal sound, and this is very weak in comparison. What’s most surprising is that Sascha Paeth has done a fine job for them in the past. To be fair the production is a little up and down, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. It all depends on the track and the context and direction of the music at the time.

The writing and the performance of the band members are the best redeeming factors you can get though. As I said, based on the material Epica has offered up this time I don’t think this album is quite as good as The Divine Conspiracy or Design Your Universe, but it certainly gives more than its fair share of tracks which can be considered to be among the band’s best. Among these highlights is perhaps surprisingly the lead single Storm the Sorrow. Precedent says the Epica single will be a more commercialised track than the rest of the album, and either growl free (Design Your Universe’s Unleashed) or near enough to not make much difference (The Divine Conspiracy’s Never Enough). Of course where this style of metal is concerned we’re still talking a bit more radio friendly than most but still Storm the Sorrow not only features a very prominent growling section but it’s really no more commercial than the average Epica track. Simone Simon’s vocals are what makes the track really special though. As usual she delivers perfectly throughout the album. Jansen’s growls are also on the mark; despite what some people may say about his vocals I think we’re talking one of the most powerful growlers in metal here. If the MaYaN debut, a symphonic death metal album, proved anything it was that Mark Jansen can carry an album as the lead vocalist just as well as Simone Simons. Together the two are the definitive beauty and the beast vocal team.

Other early highlights include Monopoly on Truth, Internal Warfare, and the title track, which includes some eastern folksy sounds. That’s pretty much the entire first half of the album except ballad Delirium, which is a nice enough track that highlights Simone’s vocals but as with any metal album the band would be doing something wrong if this was the track you were most interested in. Monopoly on Truth, Internal Warfare, and the title track showcase Epica’s more pronounced progressive metal approach, especially the latter two.

The structure of the release is typical Epica: intro, few tracks, interlude, and then rest of the tracks. Actually the structure is more or less identical to Design Your Universe including the positioning of the two epics and why not? It worked well enough for them last time and if it weren’t for the letdown of a production I’m sure it would do the same here. I have to be honest, because of the material and performance standard I’m still happily giving Requiem for the Indifferent a very high end score, but I have to consider the issues the album has so as much as I’d like things to be different my rating can’t be as high as what I previously gave The Divine Conspiracy (9.6) and Design Your Universe (10.0).

After the interlude, Anima, the pace gets going again with Guilty Demeanor. This one’s another shining example of Simone’s vocal abilities. I’d consider it a highlight for that reason alone. Also the production works a bit better here. The next track, Deep Water Horizon, is a little hit and miss though. Simone’s still on form and to be fair it really picks up about two thirds of the way through, but you have to wait a bit for the track to deliver the goods. Things are back on track with Stay the Course however, with more prog coming out of the woodwork. Honestly most of the album retains Design Your Universe’s top tier level of quality, but little blips like Deep Water Horizon are what holds it back a little. Not as much as the production, because for example I can’t help wondering how much more powerful a track like Deter the Tyrant would sound if those guitars had more bite to them, and if they were a bit more dominate in the mix. There’s a lot of going on with the guitars in this track, and it would be nice for some attention to be given to them. The production highlights the vocals but harms the instrumentation. That’s a shame, because what’s the point in actually bringing something really special to the symphonic metal table if you’re not going to flaunt it?

It’s ironic really, but I’ve spent my time earlier this year in other symphonic metal reviews I’ve done going on about how Epica is the best in the symphonic game right now and then they go and get outshined by a couple of other acts, namely Pythia and Xandria, especially Xandria. Still despite the production this ultimately isn’t an unsatisfactory release from Epica. With a couple of exceptions we’re talking exceptional to masterpiece levels of quality once again. If it weren’t for the production I’d now be giving it a grade pushing towards that top tier but although it doesn’t suffer so much that it drops out of the exceptional zone the score I ultimately have to give Requiem for the Indifferent is more towards the lower end of that scale. Personally speaking I do love this album, but there are some things that as a reviewer I can’t just overlook and that production is one of them. But anyway, if you’ve enjoyed their past works I see no reason not to like this one. Newcomers may wish to investigate Design Your Universe instead though, for no other reason than that production giving you the wrong impression.

8.7/10

(Originally written for Heavy Metal Haven (http://metaltube.freeforums.org))

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