Hailing from The Netherlands, Epica formed in 2002. Their 7th studio album The Holographic Principle was released September 30th, 2016 through Nuclear Blast. Playing small clubs in North America or large festivals around the world, Epica continues to be one of the best Symphonic Metal bands around the world.
The band consists of original members Mark Jansen – rhythm guitar, growls/screams, Coen Janssen – keyboards, synthesizer, and piano. The band also has their original studio release vocalist – the legendary Simone Simons, which seems to be a rarity in symphonic metal bands. Also in the band we have Arien Van Weesenbeek – drums, spoken word; Isaac Delahaye – head guitar, backing vocals, and Rob Van Der Loo – bass and growls. The new release also features many guest musicians along with the Pa’dam Chamber Choir.
With The Quantum Enigma release in 2014, I became a fan and quickly found the rest of their discography. Enjoying all their albums I felt The Quantum Enigma was their best release until I got my hands on the deluxe version double CD package of The Holographic Principal. With only hearing one track before getting the CD, I have to admit it didn’t hit me right away. However, once I got my hands on the actual CD, I truly got to enjoy this masterpiece of symphonic classic metal.
As per Wikipedia – The idea behind the album is that the universe is a digitally generated hologram. Singer Simons indicated that the band had been writing for about a year, which resulted in 27 songs. These were whittled down to eighteen for the recording sessions with twelve featured on the album. The additional six songs were left for a later release.
The album opens with an instrumental track “Eidola”. This lends a cinematic orchestral feel kicking into the first signal and video, “Edge Of The Blade“. With a small amount of growls the track highlights the sensational voice of Simons.
With the powerful vocal arrangement of the choir highlighted in “A Phantasmic Parade“, along with the mix of growls and Simons on vocals, this track shows why Epica has become the band symphonic metal fans have loved.
“Universal Death Squad” is a fast paced track with massive percussion by Van Weesenbeek. Simons‘ vocal ranges along with the Choir makes for an enjoyable listen.
Continuing with the concept of the universe, “Divide And Conquer” runs almost 8 minutes with a wonderful mix of vocals. The band with all the talent makes this track a powerful symphonic metal masterpiece.
“Beyond the Matrix” has become one of my favorite tracks of the new album because of the many different elements to the song. If you’re not a fan of a lot of growls you may like this.
“Once Upon A Nightmare” slows things down with Simons singing and Jassen on keys. Even though it is slower, it is an orchestral haven of music, really showing off the talent of Epica with their range of texture and feel.
Next up brings a collaboration of Epica magic with “The Cosmic Algorithm“. We have great riffs, the heavy kick-ass drums of Van Weesenbeek, some heavy growls, along with the subtle softness of Simons. All in all, a spellbinding of pure symphonic metal magic.
Continuing on, Epica does not disappoint with the next 3 tracks adding a variety of Epica flavor. “Ascension – Dream State Armageddon“, “Dancing in A Hurricane” and “Tear Down Your Walls“.
The title track finishes the album, “The Holographic Principle – A Profound Understanding Of Reality”. This is the longest track on the album (11 and a half minutes), however, it is worth it. It is pure Epica musical composition wizardry, with plenty of texture and movement within this track.
When buying the deluxe version, which I would highly recommend, you get a second CD titled The Acoustic Principle with 5 tracks.
This has been a wonderful epic musical adventure thanks to the lyrics written by Jansen and Simons with the entire band composing the music.
Don’t miss Epica as they tour throughout Europe after they hit Brazil, USA and Canada.
Next month I will finally get to see this legendary band perform live in Toronto, with Fleshgod Apocalypse, Xandria, and The Agonist. Last time they were in town I decided to keep my wife happy and take her to see the live performance of So You Think You Can Dance. ARRR!! Two times before that show their Toronto performances were canceled. This year at Sweden Rock Festival I decided to forgo Epica‘s performance to see a band that has never performed in North America and I have been a fan of them since 1989. 220 Volt from Sweden were awesome playing live in their home country, but finally, I will see Epica!
Shawn “Animalize” Irwin