Thursday, May 8, 2014

Epica - The Quantum Enigma (2014)

Few bands in the world have a name that fits more to their musical style than the Dutch band Epica. Created in 2002 by Marc Janssen (after leaving his previous band, After Forever), this band has been proving again and again that it is amongst the top in the Dutch symphonic metal community, together with Within Temptation, The Gathering and Delain.

So you would easily expect greatness from the band's 6th album entitled "The Quantum Enigma", and sure enough, this album contains a lot of things that we have learned to love with Epica. The epic melodies, the wide variety in vocals (from harsh to female and quire) and the technical craftsmanship is all there to enjoy within the album.

And so is also the strong quality in the songs. I would say that the band has become a little heavier in their sound since their last album, the 2012 offering "Requiem For The Indifferent", which is of course a good thing. I have always liked it when Epica has leaned more towards their heavy side than their symphonic side (even though I enjoy that part of them as well). But one thing that really surprised me with "The Quantum Enigma" is that it grows on you. After the first couple of listens, I did not really think that the album was something special, but the more I listen to this album, the more I enjoy it. This was not the case with the other Epica albums, but I have to admit, it definitely increases the life span on "The Quantum Enigma" more than on any of the earlier albums.

Song wise, you can be sure to find a couple of songs that you like. Do you like catchy and easily memorable songs? Then the single "The Essence of Silence" is perfectly suited for you. More of the progressive type? No problem, "Sense Without Sanity - The Impervious Code -" and the title track will meet your needs. And don't forget that the album is also packed with grandiose tracks like "Natural Corruption", "The Second Stone", "Omen - The Ghoulish Malady -" and "Chemical Insomnia".

So the variety is not one thing that "The Quantum Enigma" is lacking, but I could wish for some stronger refrains, since several of them are lacking a good punch. But otherwise, there is not much to mark on this album. The production is clean, the instrumentation is nice and Simone Simons sings like a queen. And even though I like Simone and I understand that she is the lead singer of the band, I would like to see a little more from Mark Jansen's harsh vocals. They may not be very original, but they give Epica's music another dimension that most bands within the same genre does not have.

If Delain showed how good a simplistic symphonic metal album can be with "The Human Contradiction", then Epica is showing how good a more complex ditto can be. "The Quantum Enigma" could be one of the more meatier Epica albums up to date, but once you're getting down to its bone, you will see what an amazing piece this is. This is definitely an impressive album that helps Epica maintain their position as one of the best bands in the symphonic metal scene.

Songs worthy of recognition: The Second Stone, The Essence of Silence, Chemical Insomnia, Omen - The Ghoulish Malady -

Rating: 8,5/10 Victims of Contingency

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