Epica – The Holographic Principle (2016)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/48 kHz | Time – 91:34 minutes | 1,14 GB | Genre: Metal
Studio Master, Official Digital Download – Source: NuclearBlast | Artwork: Front cover
Epica – the quintessential Symphonic Metal act – is poised to release its latest evolutionary gem entitled The Holographic Principle. Die-hard fans of the band will certainly not be disappointed, and Epica weaves enough conventional elements into its sonic tapestry that their seventh studio release will garner a large number of new supporters. Full of traditional bombast and fire, The Holographic Principle will stand as one of Epica’s strongest symphonic outings, yet there are countless passages that will appeal to fans of Classical, Orchestral, Operatic, and almost every other Metal genre.
Fronted by the ever powerful voice of Simone Simons, Epica continues to mix sci-fi & gothic themes into its lyrics and music. In the case of The Holographic Principle, the band’s tone has shifted to the positive. Simons does her usual very capable job with her operatic vocals but spends more time singing in a crisp and clean conventional fashion than on previous releases. She shares the mic with guitarist/growler Mark Jansen to deliver a solid one-two vocal punch. Their voices are backed by one of the tightest bands active today: keyboard player Coen Janssen, drummer Arien Van Weesenbeek, guitarist Isaac Delahaye, and bassist Rob Van Der Loo. Their long time collaboration shows as their musical delivery is near perfect.
In the band’s own words The Holographic Principle explores “the very fibre of our reality” in a Matrix-inspired way. The album opens with the powerful mood piece “Eidola” – a track with lush keyboards and strong choral vocals that build in power as it progresses. The decidedly bouncy and upbeat “Edge of the Blade” features a wandering vocal pathway that goes from Simone’s soft and near-whispered clean singing to her full on operatic power, while Jansen’s guttural growls and fabulous choral vocals from the rest of the band provide a strong melodic counterpoint. “A Phantasmic Parade” features a good deal of Simone’s vibrant operatic range and plenty of Jansen’s growls. The Terminator/ kynet inspired “Universal Death Squad” is a full-on symphonic attack build on manic drums, thrashy guitars, and booming bass with plenty of over-the-top choral vocals mixed in. By this point the overall warmth and depth of Epica’s effort become truly apparent – they have moved away from synthesized instruments and toward “real” physical strings, brass, and winds – a noticeable sonic difference. “Divide And Conquer” features some great vocal back and forth between Simons and Jansen.
“Beyond The Matrix” is arguably the best track on the CD – a rolling, theatrical, triumphant tune that snaps from orchestral madness to vocal/bass Hard Rock and back – the essence of Epica. The band softens to violin and strings during the sweeping “Once Upon A Nightmare,” a track that allows the passion in Simone’s voice to shine – but quickly cranks the intensity back up while searching for answers to “The Cosmic Algorithm.” The darker, more Gothic side of Epica shows itself thanks to Mark Jansen’s superb growls on “Ascension – Dream State Armageddon”, and a brief spoken passage that sums up the story of the release. Middle Eastern and Asian overtones (thanks to some well done exotic instruments) make “Dancing in a Hurricane” unique – almost a folk metal tune, while “Tear Down Your Walls” rolls in some soft atmospheric touches before becoming an intense Symphonic/Progressive heavy rocker. The eleven minute plus epic “The Holographic Principle – A Profound Understanding Of Reality” sums up the album – running that gamut from choral chant to soft piano to bluesy guitars to … well, you get it.
As always, Epica seems to take the approach that bigger is better, and they thrive on throwing in everything into their music – including the proverbial kitchen sink. This at times sense of reckless abandon is what makes Epica what they are today – a fearless and unapologetic act that pulls no punches and always seems to be having fun as they perform. Vibrant vocals, excellent musicianship, maximum effort and a near perfect balance between orchestral majesty and metal swagger make Epica’s The Holographic Principle a winner!
01 – Eidola
02 – Edge of the Blade
03 – A Phantasmic Parade
04 – Universal Death Squad
05 – Divide and Conquer
06 – Beyond the Matrix
07 – Once Upon a Nightmare
08 – The Cosmic Algorithm
09 – Ascension – Dream State Armageddon
10 – Dancing in a Hurricane
11 – Tear Down Your Walls
12 – The Holographic Principle – A Profound Understanding of Reality
13 – Beyond the Good, the Bad and the Ugly
14 – Dancing in a Gypsy Camp
15 – Immortal Melancholy
16 – The Funky Algorithm
17 – Universal Love Squad
Mark Jansen – Rhythm Guitars, Harsh Vocals
Coen Janssen – Keyboards
Simone Simons – Vocals
Arien van Wessenbeek – Drums, Harsh Vocals
Isaac Delahaye – Lead Guitars, Backing Vocals
Rob van de Loo – Bass