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Charm and Promise. - 84%

hells_unicorn, December 22nd, 2007

If I could sum up the sound of Epica in a single word, “charming” would probably be my first pick. To add a bit of perspective to why their sound would invoke such a word, it is necessary to contrast them with acts that they are often compared to. Nightwish’s sound, when it was at its best, can be described as beautiful and passionate. The combination of Tuomas and Tarja created something Neo-Romantic. Likewise, fellow Dutch act Within Temptation could be described as entrancing, mostly because Sharon Den Adel’s voice has an angelic quality to it that lacks the operatic primadonna quality of Tarja and light enough that it almost makes you feel like you’re floating. Simone Simmons’ voice and the arrangement around her has the same operatic quality as Nightwish, but the general mood that it invokes is more in line with the melancholy opera seria style of the Baroque/Classical era, which even when sad, is more of a charming light sound than the heavy passion of Beethoven or Brahms.

“Quietus” has a neo-classical opera character to it with just a slight tinge of folk influences. Although the band’s name was inspired by the Kamelot album of the same name, the sound of the music is more in line with middle era Rhapsody and early Fairyland. Simone puts forth a solid vocal performance; perhaps not as climactic or triumphant as Tarja reaching into the upper stratosphere on a song like “She is my sin” or “Sacrament of Wilderness”, but definitely heartfelt and full of life. Likewise, the orchestral version of “Linger” that is on the version I have is light and airy, almost like a somewhat more woeful and lonely version of a Nightwish ballad.

Epica have a good deal of potential and are making a name for themselves, maybe to the point of overtaking Nightwish now that Tarja and the band have parted ways and the old magic seems to be fading. If you like the middle era of Nightwish, or more specifically the “Century Child” era, this is fairly similar. I will definitely be paying closer attention to this band; they are definitely more than just an act sporting the prettiest face in metal.