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It’s time for a softer, more melodic specimen of the useless splits. Here we get a collaboration between the Dutch gothic/power metal band Epica and the Finnish progressive metal band Amorphis, in the shape of the Martyr of the Free World / From the Heaven of My Heart split. Let’s just say that Amorphis dominates here.
The front side of the vinyl features an Epica song from their newest album Design Your Universe, and my feelings on this are mixed. One the one hand it’s a pretty good song, relatively catchy and surprisingly metal for a band like Epica, with real riffs, solos and a bit of competent drumming. On the other hand, this song seems like the band were trying way too many things at the same time. In addition to Simone Simons’ multiple vocal styles (standard singing, other, more soaring lines) there are also harsh male vocals, melodic keyboards which create several different atmospheres, a rapid change of riffs, some of which are admittedly impressive, and drumming which might seem good at first glance but then starts becoming progressively more irritating as time passes due to an excessive number of pattern and style changes. Again, this isn’t necessarily a bad song, but too much stuff seems to have been crammed into it and it sounds like the mutated offspring of Nightwish, Therion and perhaps Crematory.
Luckily however, Amorphis come up and clean this split up with their sublime masterpiece of a ballad from the Skyforger, From the Heaven of my Heart. Beginning with a slow keyboard intro imitating a classical-sounding piano, the song proves itself to be Amorphis’ most melodic number to date and an instant keeper. Excess is a word that has no place here: this song relies on a small number of elements to be successful. These are: the classical-sounding keyboards, the slow, melodic riffs, the limited and not-too-loud drumming, a single, relatively simple solo near the end and Tomi Joutsen’s clean vocals, perhaps at their supreme best since his joining the band. Together they all work to create a beautiful ballad that focuses mainly on emotions and attains considerable success in that field.
This split wasn’t much of a surprise. It shows Epica’s decent, if ultimately bizarre take on metal and Amorphis’ dominance of said genre. From the Heaven of my Heart is a testament to the brilliance of the band’s latest opus and a great reason to buy that album over this totally unnecessary release designed solely to fill up Nuclear Blast’s gold coffers.