EPICA

Symphonic Metal / Non-Metal • 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), Rob van der Loo (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
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Epica Vs Attack On Titan SongsEpica Vs Attack On Titan Songs
Nuclear Blast 2018
$8.01
$8.02 (used)
The Holographic PrincipleThe Holographic Principle
Nuclear Blast America 2016
$7.31
$6.59 (used)
The Solace SystemThe Solace System
Nuclear Blast America 2017
$5.95
$6.43 (used)
The Quantum EnigmaThe Quantum Enigma
Nuclear Blast America 2014
$8.93
$6.36 (used)
Score 2.0: The Epic JourneyScore 2.0: The Epic Journey
Transmission Records 2017
$13.67
$14.33 (used)
Epica Vs Attack on Titan SongsEpica Vs Attack on Titan Songs
Imports 2017
$12.74
$16.11 (used)
Divine ConspiracyDivine Conspiracy
Nuclear Blast America 2012
$10.34
$6.47 (used)
Design Your UniverseDesign Your Universe
Nuclear Blast 2012
$7.93
$5.60 (used)
Requiem For The IndifferentRequiem For The Indifferent
Nuclear Blast America 2012
$10.36
$10.38 (used)
The Classical Conspiracy (2CD)The Classical Conspiracy (2CD)
Nuclear Blast America 2012
$9.15
$8.15 (used)
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EPICA Discography

EPICA albums / top albums

EPICA The Phantom Agony album cover 3.12 | 21 ratings
The Phantom Agony
Symphonic Metal 2003
EPICA Consign to Oblivion album cover 3.72 | 21 ratings
Consign to Oblivion
Symphonic Metal 2005
EPICA The Score album cover 2.79 | 7 ratings
The Score
Non-Metal 2005
EPICA The Divine Conspiracy album cover 3.69 | 35 ratings
The Divine Conspiracy
Symphonic Metal 2007
EPICA Design Your Universe album cover 4.27 | 37 ratings
Design Your Universe
Symphonic Metal 2009
EPICA Requiem for the Indifferent album cover 3.90 | 30 ratings
Requiem for the Indifferent
Symphonic Metal 2012
EPICA The Quantum Enigma album cover 3.83 | 20 ratings
The Quantum Enigma
Symphonic Metal 2014
EPICA The Holographic Principle album cover 4.77 | 11 ratings
The Holographic Principle
Symphonic Metal 2016

EPICA EPs & splits

EPICA Hi Five - Female Fronted Metal album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Hi Five - Female Fronted Metal
Symphonic Metal 2007
EPICA Martyr of the Free Word / From the Heaven of My Heart album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Martyr of the Free Word / From the Heaven of My Heart
Symphonic Metal 2009
EPICA The Solace System album cover 4.46 | 4 ratings
The Solace System
Symphonic Metal 2017
EPICA Epica vs Attack on Titan Songs album cover 4.25 | 2 ratings
Epica vs Attack on Titan Songs
Symphonic Metal 2017

EPICA live albums

EPICA We Will Take You With Us album cover 4.00 | 2 ratings
We Will Take You With Us
Symphonic Metal 2004
EPICA The Classical Conspiracy album cover 4.38 | 4 ratings
The Classical Conspiracy
Symphonic Metal 2009

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

EPICA re-issues & compilations

EPICA The Road to Paradiso album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
The Road to Paradiso
Symphonic Metal 2006
EPICA Best Of album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Best Of
Symphonic Metal 2013

EPICA singles (13)

.. 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
.. Album Cover
0.00 | 0 ratings
Storm the Sorrow
Symphonic Metal 2012
.. Album Cover
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Essence of Silence
Symphonic Metal 2014
.. Album Cover
0.00 | 0 ratings
Unchain Utopia
Symphonic Metal 2014
.. Album Cover
0.00 | 0 ratings
Universal Death Squad
Symphonic Metal 2016

EPICA movies (DVD, Blu-Ray or VHS)

.. Album Cover
0.00 | 0 ratings
We Will Take You With Us
Symphonic Metal 2004
.. Album Cover
5.00 | 1 ratings
Retrospect
Symphonic Metal 2013

EPICA Reviews

EPICA The Solace System

EP · 2017 · Symphonic Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
adg211288
When Dutch symphonic metal maestros Epica wrapped up recording their last full-length album The Holographic Principle (2016), they found themselves with more songs than they needed. Uninterested in releasing a double album, a portion of these songs got dropped from the finished product. But rather than be regulated to the status of bonus tracks, they've been held back for The Solace System (2017), a six track EP release.

Lasting for a little shy of a full half hour, this is still a fairly substantial new release from Epica. I have albums passed off as full-lengths that are shorter than this. But due to its very nature one has to wonder going into it if the music will be somehow lesser than their usual high standard. After all, these are the six songs that didn't make it onto The Holographic Principle. Well overall I'd say that it's true that these ones didn't make the main album for a reason, but the good news is that The Holographic Principle has many claims to being Epica's best album, so the standard is so high that The Solace System's six cast-off songs are still very worthwhile additions to any Epica fan's collection and certainly still better than the work of the average symphonic metal band.

Sound wise the six songs are very similar to The Holographic Principle, for obvious reasons. Symphonic metal with strong progressive complexity and a bit of power metal influence. If you enjoyed that album then there's little reason not to also pick up The Solace System. It will never be as good but it's certainly essential supplemental material, especially the tracks Architect of Light, Wheel of Destiny and Decoded Poetry, that will serve well to tide listeners over while we wait for the next Epica full-length.

EPICA The Holographic Principle

Album · 2016 · Symphonic Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Kev Rowland
I can’t put my finger on it, but there is definitely something that lifts this 2016 album to a higher plane than the one that came out just two years earlier. The intensity is still at the very high level, but Simone seems to be more in control on this one, as opposed to sometimes being swept away. It is bombastic, it is massively over the top, and the guitars have reined in just ever so slightly, although at times they still race off like bolting horses that have been given their heads. It is an overpowering aural assault on the senses, and I love it. The closest way I can think of describing it is like being at a version of Handel’s “Messiah” with full choir and orchestra, but with Slipknot also being involved!

I was playing these two albums back to back the other day, and even without looking I knew when this one had started as there is a definite lift, a step up in just about everything. Symphonic over the top progressive metal just doesn’t get any better than this. This is not something that can be played as background music, but rather demands full attention of the listener at all times, as this is all-consuming, and not for the fainthearted. I really do hope that the guys decided to come down to this part of the world for a show one day, as they must be incredible in concert. This is essential, nothing more, nothing less.

EPICA The Quantum Enigma

Album · 2014 · Symphonic Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Kev Rowland
here is one word to describe this 2014 album that rises clearly above all others, “Intensity”. The production on this album seems to have brought everything together at the highest volume possible, so much so that the listener is quite drained by all of it. Singer Simone Simons has a quite stunning voice, but to be honest she is sometimes drained out by the choir and also by the rest of the band so that she actually loses some of the impact. This is a real shame, as the album as a whole is an incredible piece of work, much more metallic than the band to which they are most often compared, Nightwish, with the twin guitars locked in and riffing hard. They are also more downtuned and there is the feeling that this a guitar based-band first and foremost, as opposed to keyboard-based. Of course, Epica have a second singer in Mark Jansen who favours death growls as opposed to the ‘proper’ singing of Marco Hietala, so there is a very different feel between the two acts.

In many ways I actually prefer Epica, as the intensity is palpable: here is a band that are all firing on all cylinders, rushing to the end, taking no prisoners. Sure, I would have preferred to have Simone’s vocals higher in the mix, but perhaps I’m being just a little picky? This is a symphonic metal band who concentrate on the latter more than the former, and that’s just fine with me.Yes, they slow it down here and there, but it is when they are at full gallop with the band playing hard and the choir singing their hearts out, and Simone striving to rise above it all, that they are at their very best.

EPICA The Holographic Principle

Album · 2016 · Symphonic Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
adg211288
Symphonic metal is a not a genre that is typically associated with producing releases that will necessarily scratch the itch that most metalheads feel for genuinely heavy, powerful music. Instead it's associated with metal's more radio friendly side. That's actually a stereotype, one that both fans and detractors of the genre have been guilty of, as symphonic metal is hardly the only genre capable of putting out hook-laden tracks. Hell, even some melodic death metal bands like Arch Enemy or Scar Symmetry can write a damn catchy song. But I will be fair, most artists that play symphonic metal don't do much to dispel the impression. Except perhaps just one. They are Epica from the Netherlands and The Holographic Principle (2016) is their seventh main album.

I actually think that back when they started Epica were on the same page that most symphonic metal bands either start on (and often stay on) or end up on. However even as early as Consign to Oblivion (2005) they were showing signs of being something more and that really came to fruition on The Divine Conspiracy (2007), an album that they really upped their game on, that in my review for it back then I described as 'giving the symphonic metal genre a good kick up the backside'. Epica's music is heavier and more complex than most symphonic metal acts ever intend to be and even among those who do use growls they seem to have more of an actual footing in the death metal camp, something that really came out on previous album The Quantum Enigma (2014) and the song Victims of Contingency. And instead of becoming more accessible with age it seems as if Epica is a rare case of going in the opposite direction, showing a willingness to experiment in the progressive metal field as well as delivering grandiose symphonic metal. But what makes them so great is that they know how to find a balance between all their elements, which also includes some power metal influence, that really makes their music work as well as it does. It's a knack that sadly most symphonic metal bands seem unable to get the hang of, one that makes Epica masters of what they do and in this case also gives The Holographic Principle many claims to being the band's best album to date.

There isn't any better evidence for Epica getting more adventurous with each album than their choice for this album's lead single, Universal Death Squad, which may just be the most progressive track they're kicked off an album's promotion with. While more obvious single choice Edge of the Blade has also been given the music video treatment, this was the first taste Epica gave their fans for The Holographic Principle and to me it seems like that was a statement about what they're really about. And they certainly following through with the promise that Universal Death Squad makes on the rest of the album, which contains some of their most complex material so far, as well as some of the most epic. Symphonic instrumentation and progressive complexity go hand in hand together very well.

This is the kind of album that quickly asserts it's tracks as memorable pieces of music thanks to the different approaches that Epica has to creating symphonic metal. Even the intro track Eidola is worth a special mention, being excellent in its own right before the full songs take over, starting with Edge of the Blade. A Simone Simons dominated song except for a notable growled section by Mark Jansen once it's well under way, it's a great choice to get hooked into the album, reminding me a bit of Never Enough from The Divine Conspiracy. It's following tracks such as the trio of Universal Death Squad, Divide and Conquer, and Beyond the Matrix and then later The Cosmic Algorithm, the very catchy Dancing in a Hurricane and of course finale The Holographic Principle - A Profound Understanding of Reality that strike me as the album's best cuts though. That said, the track to track flow of The Holographic Principle is excellent. There is never a moment where the material Epica have delivered could be considered lesser, not even slightly. It's an extremely consistent release, but then that's what I rely on them for. I'd consider Requiem for the Indifferent (2012) to be a slight blip on their record, but otherwise everything since The Divine Conspiracy has been upper echelon music. That's a track record that no other symphonic metal band has matched, not even Nightwish.

The band of course are as well playing as ever. Along with their usual instruments Epica have incorporated a whole host of other instruments onto the album. Band members Isaac Delahaye (guitars) and Coen Janssen (keyboards) notably play a small host of additional instruments between them. Mandolin, Balalaika, Bouzouki and Ukulele for Delahaye and Glockenspiel, Xylophone, Tubalar Bells for Janssen. For guest musicians we have a group of violins, a pair of viola, a few cellos, as well as an assortment of brass instruments like trumpets, French horn and trombone and some woodwinds like flutes, bassoon and oboe. There is also a sitar present which is played by Jack Pisters who has also worked with After Forever, Ayreon and The Gentle Storm. In the vocal department Simone Simons remains in top form and is as enchanting as ever, while Mark Jansen's growls continue to add the extreme edge of Epica's music. It's kind of funny but in most symphonic metal bands the biggest issue with the music is that a female vocalist with a stunning voice is having to share vocal time with a growler so you'd be forgiven to thinking that might be a problem here too, except it's not. Epica has always made this kind of interplay with Simons and Jansen work. It's another reason why they are the best at what they do.

Making a call on what Epica's best work is certainly isn't an easy task. There is no clear cut candidate for that distinction. The Holographic Principle is just the latest of their albums to be in the running. I think that compared to their other albums this one does feel quite similar to The Quantum Enigma but I wouldn't call it a rehash. They've hit on a sound that really works for them by this point and the results continue to be stunning. I'd say this even goes one better than the previous at the very least, while it, The Divine Conspiracy and Design Your Universe (2009) all have different claims on that top spot. I'm not completely sure on which deserves it the most yet (my inclination right now is to say this one but that may be due to the high that any new album worth its salt always provides) but what I do know is that if you like the symphonic metal genre at all, then this is one album you absolutely have to have in your collection.

EPICA The Holographic Principle

Album · 2016 · Symphonic Metal
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DippoMagoo
The past couple of years have not been the best for symphonic metal fans, and I personally have not heard many albums from the genre lately that have impressed me much, but one band I can always count on to deliver is Epica. I first discovered them with their second album Consign to Oblivion, which immediately hooked me in, becoming one of my favorite albums in the genre, and they’ve only gotten better over the years. Ever since guitarist Isaac Delahaye came in and gave their music more of an edge, starting with their fourth album Design Your Universe, the band has been easily the most ambitious and most consistently satisfying symphonic metal band by far. Their last album, The Quantum Enigma, in particular, felt like the band had pushed as far as they could possibly push, combining the heavier sound of their newer albums with all the symphonic and choral aspects of previous releases to create what I consider easily the best symphonic metal album I’ve ever heard. So heading into their seventh full-length release, The Holographic Principle, I was both excited to see what the band would do next, and also a bit nervous, because I figured it would be impossible to top their previous album. After giving The Holographic Principle several listens, I’m no longer sure about that. One thing I know for sure: Once again the band has exceeded all expectations and delivered another outstanding release that stands far above the rest of the pack.

After a couple albums in a row where they evolved their sound quite a bit, and experimented a little, The Quantum Enigma felt in many ways like the ultimate album for them, the realization of everything their previous releases had been building towards, so it’s no surprise that with The Holographic Principle they have settled down a bit, and made minor tweaks to push their sound just a bit further. In short, this album feels like they have taken all elements of their music and pushed them all to the extreme, with everything from the guitar riffs, to Simone’s vocals, Mark’s Growls, the symphonic elements (now with a huge, full orchestra) and choral elements feeling even more epic than ever before. The one thing that feels like it’s been focused on most is increasing the heaviness, and while their previous three albums were already quite heavy at times, this album has some truly killer riffs and is by far their hardest hitting release to date. At the same time, the orchestral elements are still as prominent as ever, and the band used some percussion as well as other unique elements at times, making it a packed album, to say the least.

One area where Epica really stands far above the pack is the production. Something I’ve struggled with lately on many symphonic and even symphonic power metal albums has been the mixing, as many bands have fallen into the trap of either putting the orchestra on top and letting it overpower the metal instruments, or watering everything down so it sounds like a muffled mess. Thankfully, Epica has avoided this, instead of pushing the guitars quite high up in the mix, while still leaving plenty of room for the vocals, drums, keys and orchestra to shine. In short, it’s the one recent symphonic release where I can say everything feels perfectly balanced, and I wish more bands could pull off having so many elements in their music and making it sound perfect the way this band can.

Moving on to songwriting, which has always been a strong point for the band, and once again, the band does not disappoint. Where The Quantum Enigma was an awesome album anchored by probably their best song ever, this release doesn’t have quite as big a high point, but if anything I’d say the songs are even more consistently amazing if that’s even possible. As expected, “ Eidola” is an excellent intro track, with a very cinematic feel. It seems a bit darker than most of their intros and it gets pretty epic and intense towards the end, leading in nicely to the first full song, “Edge of the Blade”. This track is once again the kind of opener fans would expect, storming out of the gates with fast-paced guitar riffs and the orchestra is in full effect immediately, before Simone’s ever more angelic vocals take over during the verses, and then it speeds up again for the epic chorus where the choirs take over. Mark’s growls make their first appearance during an intense bridge section, and overall it’s an excellent opener that serves as a perfect example of what to expect from the band at this point. The following track “A Phantasmic Parade” is mostly slower, and a bit more focused on choral vocals, though it speeds up for another epic growled section later on. It’s worth noting, that compared to past releases, this album feels like the band has mostly stuck to a formula, so most of the songs use similar elements in similar ways, but it’s the way every song is so well constructed, and how they each come with their own surprises and memorable moments, that makes the more straightforward approach to songwriting not become a problem in the least.

An early highlight is “Universal Death Squad”, a heavier, faster paced track where the guitars dominate quite a bit. The orchestral elements and choral vocals are in full effect as always, but it’s the lead riff and especially the excellent guitar solo in the middle that really stand out, though Simone’s higher notes during the chorus are certainly quite impressive as well. “Divide and Conquer” is the first track that feels a bit different. It’s very much dominated by the choir vocals, though it’s also the first track where Mark’s growls show up during the verses to alternate with Simone, and it does have some very impressive and heavy instrumental work, especially later on during a full growled section. Another one of my favorites is up next, in “Beyond the Matrix”, a much catchier, more straight-forward song with perhaps the best chorus on the album, and the choirs are truly epic on this track. It also features a quite impressive solo from Isaac later on. Next is a unique track in “Once Upon a Nightmare”, the closest thing this album has to a ballad. One thing’s for sure, though: This isn’t a typical, simplistic ballad. Nope, it has an extended orchestral opening, and it’s a very atmospheric keyword driven track, with some very memorable and extended instrumental sections, as well a bit of voice over work that adds more atmosphere to the track. Simone does get some impressive vocal lines, but it’s surprisingly not as vocal driven as you’d expect from a ballad. It’s certainly quite interesting, though it took multiple listens for me to fully get into it.

On the flip side, “The Cosmic Algorithm” is another instant winner, with a very fast paced choral section leading into another fantastic chorus, but overall it’s actually one of the heavier, more guitar-driven tracks on the album, and some of the riffs are quite aggressive and killer. Unsurprisingly, it has another excellent guitar solo. The next track “Ascension – Dream State Armageddon ” is slower paced, but has more crushing riffs, as well as some intense growls, to go with the usual great chorus, and an epic section later on where the choral vocals are used in a more haunting way, leading towards a brief voice over section. It’s a very dark and hard hitting track, and certainly another highlight. After that, we have another more unique track in “Dancing in a Hurricane”, a more laid back track, that starts off softly with mostly the orchestra, Simone and some percussion, which is used nicely. The rest of the band slowly comes in as the song progresses, but it’s a fairly calm song overall, with the percussion reappearing later in the track, though it does have one brief intense burst in the middle where the growls show up. By comparison, the next track “Tear Down Your Walls” is much more intense the whole way through, leaning more heavily on the guitar work and Mark’s Growls, but as usual, the chorus is very nice, and so it’s a well-balanced track.

Lastly, we have the epic length title track, which I was a bit nervous about at first, just because I couldn’t see the band possibly topping their previous title track. Thankfully, they didn’t really try, instead of doing a mostly more laid back title track, this time, around. Indeed, it has a rather slow start, using the orchestra and choirs to set things up, before the rest of the band slowly comes in. The first half is fairly calm and melodic, and the chorus is once again outstanding, giving Simone plenty of room to give probably her best vocals on the album, and while it’s certainly not huge and epic like the chorus of The Quantum Enigma, it’s still very effective. Growls are used sporadically in the first half, but the highlight of the track comes a little bit past the halfway point, where the music speeds up, the riffs get more intense, and Mark’s growls are in full force. The track then alternates between this and some epic choir vocals, and it just keeps getting more and more intense an epic for a while, before finally calming down again towards the end. While I wouldn’t quite put it on the same level as The Quantum Enigma, it’s still another excellent example of how to get an epic length track right, providing an excellent chorus, as well as a ton of memorable moments and enough surprises to keep the music fresh throughout its near 12 minute playing time.

After hearing The Quantum Enigma for the first time, I very much doubted it would ever be possible to top it, but while I still consider it the best symphonic metal album I’ve ever heard, The Holographic Principle is certainly not far behind. Once again, Epica has successfully built on their past successes and delivered an album full of everything fans would expect and more, with a focus on heavy guitars, epic choirs, and orchestra, Simone’s always wonderful vocals, and of course, a ton of great growls. Right now, Epica is clearly at the top of their game and they’re clearly far ahead of all other bands in their genre, so everything they release is a must hear, both for longtime fans of the band and the genre on the whole. Really, anyone looking for an album that expertly combines symphonic elements and metal is recommended to give this a listen. Easily my 2016 album of the year so far, and one of my favorite albums of the past decade.

originally written for myglobalmind:http://myglobalmind.com/2016/09/23/epica-holographic-principle-review/

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