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Artists have utilized various forms of mediums in order to launch various criticisms at society, politics, history, or a number of other things that reside in the halls of conventional wisdom. As William Blake often noted in his writings; Urizen, or the olden god of and personification of common reason and conventional order is the greatest enemy of the free thinker, which is more often than not the artist. On the topic of religion, the general tendency of the metal musician is to resort to the profane and the common in order to make their criticisms known, but Epica chooses a different path and makes an intellectual and almost regal affair of it.
“Feint” means to deceive or to use a ploy as a ruse to cover for a coming action or event. In Epica’s case, the word is employed as a historical criticism meant not to attack the fundamentals of religion, but the servants of it who strayed by the temptations of power and wealth. In many respects Epica’s take on the whole thing is presented in the same manner with which a Christian would criticize Christian establishments. To accompany the lyrical criticism is a rather progressive song, done in two separate versions. Both have a ballad quality to them, but the piano version is definitely a good deal more subdued and almost warm, despite the subject of the lyrics.
“Seif Al Din” is Arabic for Sword of the Faith, and is likely a metaphorical polemic against certain religious leaders of the early churches. The music matches the aggressiveness of the imagery of soldiers warring in the name of god; complete with death/black growls, middle eastern painted speed riffs, and a general atmosphere of drama and intrigue. Although “Feint” is the featured song on this single, as is often the case with accompanying songs, this track is one that best showcases the versatility of Epica’s sound, rather than merely the charm of Simone filling a light arrangement, which probably gives them their appeal towards non-metal fans.
If you already have “The Phantom Agony”, there isn’t too much incentive to pick this up save the non-album track “Triumph of Defeat”, which is a solid progressive/symphonic song with some heavy moments. However, if you are new to this band and you’re unsure about spending money on a full album, this is a good, inexpensive research tool that will give you an accurate introduction to the band’s sound.