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They've done better - 70%

calderabanuet, August 2nd, 2013

So, a new release by these Netherlanders, uh? Are you ready to hate? I said, ARE YOU READY TO HAAATE? Yes? Well, I don’t. Let me state this plainly: I’ve followed these guys’ career since the very beginning, back in the good ol’days of “The Phantom Agony” and shit, and once and again I’ve enjoyed their music, at least a little in some cases. I’ll be as fair as you can get when judging this beast though, but don’t you expect me to encourage your killer instincts against’em.

I must admit I had little expectations when getting this one, as their last two full length albums were… let’s just say they’re not my favorite, yet, when listening to “RFTI”, I gladly realized there are a few new elements to check out. Perhaps quite a few.

The use of choirs is the vastest and richest that I can recall since “The Works” in “We Will Take You With Us”, and I even could recognize a couple voices from back then. Not quite innovative, but effective. Also, metal parts in the songs (meaning the riffs within these symphonic compositions) are more metal than ever; I’d go as far as saying there are some death metal passages, even though they take only a few seconds. Is it that ol’Mark is being strengthened by working in Mayan?

What I really found new, so to speak, is some HINTS of what you could call progressive stuff; meaning an occasional technical guitar riff, and solos! Yes, Epica have never been known for their killer guitar soloing, nevertheless there are a couple fine attempts here. ‘Twas about time!

Now about Simone… her vocals remain pretty much the same. I mean she’s good, that’s undeniable, and furthermore, she’s been improving her singing indeed; the thing is she’s been getting better and better as an exquisite opera singer, if you like, not as a metal one. The result, just too pretty.

And that’s nothing new; something that has always kept me not-that-much-into symphonic gothic bands, and it particularly happens with Jansen and company, is that sort of luminosity they convey not with lyrics maybe, but with their music itself. It feels as though they said “there’s still hope” or “sunshine is coming”; CRAP! That’s exactly the reason why I was so happy when Tarja was finally kicked out of Nightwish, and would stop so proficiently destroying ANY metal effect those guys could have on me.

No, for the world, NO, I’m not even suggesting Simone should or could be expelled from the band. I’d rather have her performing a lil’more aggressive and less fine vocals. That was one of the few highlights “The Divine Conspiracy” had, if you know what I mean.

Summarizing, “Requiem for the Indifferent” displays a few new features, but is still another standard release by Epica; not bad, interesting, TOO pretty, pretentious, well accomplished, etc. I honestly hope this is some sort of a transition work that’ll lead to a new sound. If you liked any of their previous albums, you’d enjoy this one; if you didn’t, why bother?

—Originally written for www.globaldomination.se

Designs the same universe, but still good - 78%

joncheetham88, May 8th, 2013

Epica reviews, not least those written by myself, really seem to spin out into essays. I think it's 'cause there's so much going on with these guys. So you can't easily write 'em off as the usual pop metal morass, and if yer going positive you still have to make a bit of a case. So here's a try at a short-ish one for a seventy-three minute record stuffed with epic symphonic power metal that isn't afraid of big choirs, lots of pace changes, frequent death growls and stealing Hans Zimmer's ideas before he's had them.

There's still a fuck-load going on of course, but the screws-tightening that Design Your Universe effected on the colourful and expansive compositions of The Divine Conspiracy remains. Even the long songs are pinned onto a handful of motifs and ideas, and that goes as much for a "lead single" style thing like 'Storm the Sorrow' as it does for eight-plus minute sprawlers like the title track, or the tight, chromatic opening sequence 'Karma/ Monopoly on Truth'. The actual guitar riffs are decent, tense, not throwaway second-rate shite bands with gimmicks or selling points outside of the six strings often puke out. Not to mention songs like 'Monopoly on Truth' and 'Internal Warfare' combine the melodic death metal shred and orchestral pomposity into a seamless, exciting sound.

Unlike recent Dimmu Borgir or Septic Flesh, the orchestras and general movie music bits aren't too in thy face for you to remember this here does involve some guitars, and in a couple of parts the cinematic streaks are musically far beyond what you will hear on most of the movie soundtracks out this summer. There's a bit more of the Eastern sounding moments the band have always had a bit of a thing for too; integrated really nicely in the title track particularly.

Meanwhile the different vocalists (Simone's various styles, the growls, the choirs) are meshed together very nicely - I mean, parts of 'Deter the Tyrant' are thrilling. The harsh vocals from Arien van Weesenbeek and founder Mark Jansen are leagues beyond the fairly average rasps and grunts found on the earlier Epica stuff. Now these guys, if it is both of them still supplying the nasty, sound pretty death metal. Van Weesenbeek's drums still help give the band's symphonic sound an aggressive, thundering backbone where needed. But speaking of vocals, Simone still impresses, unleashing far less booming soprano but really cutting the mustard with her unique "clean" voice. Choruses like that of 'Stay the Course' are awesome. The ballads on this and Design Your Universe have been the best written and sung the band have had, the only cheese coming in the form of Tony Kakko's appearance as a guest singer. And the fact that they named this other song 'Deep Water Horizon', hur hur fuckin' hell.

But if I were to gripe (and I were), then I would probably say that despite some added heaviness in terms of guitar tone and overall rhythm, the band haven't really done anything but produce a direct sequel to the previous album - which quickly became a favourite o' mine for the very reason that it stood quite apart from any of its predecessors. There's also the matter of a few fairly dull areas. The interlude 'Anima' is entirely dispensable, and 'Guilty Demeanor' doesn't have that much going for it other than the killer vocals, so that unfortunately creates a mini-slump, and the otherwise pretty monstrous closer 'Serenade of Self-Destruction' suffers from : epic metal bands often fall prey to this, since they seem to need to have long albums. At fifty or so minutes this might be a lot better.

Amazingly though, the band are still staving off the curse that seems to afflict major label female-fronted bands and power or symphonic metal outfits - by which I mean they are still consistently creating well-thought out and properly executed tunes. Design Your Universe stands as my favourite, and The Divine Conspiracy probably has a bit more immediacy, but this is head and shoulders above their first two and a good purchase if you like this sort of thing.

It ended up long. Bollocks.

http://baileysmmcreamy.blogspot.co.uk

EPIC(A) - 95%

Cloud0129, December 12th, 2012

Goodness, what was I missing out on? This Dutch band, named after a Kamelot album, has surprised me with this masterpiece, considering that I'm not the biggest symphonic metal fan. (Though I don't think it's an awful genre.) From the lovely Simone Simons' angelic opera vocals to Mark Jansen's solid death grunts and the classical composition playing alongside the rocking riffs and great drumming, there isn't much to miss.

Requiem for the Indifferent is not just a symphonic/gothic metal album, it also has influences from melodic death metal, classical music, and progressive metal, and yet still sounds coherent and cool. Just listen to the title track or "Monopoly in Truth" and you'll get an idea of what I mean. The riffs are surprisingly heavy considering the genre and quite catchy to boot. The intro riff in the second track has a very clear melodeath influence, being much faster than what you'd expect from standard gothic metal. The rest of the song that are on the heavier side instead of the more melodic, softer ones, are also quite catchy. Guitar soloing here is average but not offensive not detracting. At least they decided to simply go with the flow instead aimlessly shredding to show off. Drumming sounds really goddamn heavy as well on said heavier parts- an example of the superb drum-work when the time calls for it can be seen in the song "Storm the Sorrow" when Mark joins Simon later on in the song. Bass, I suppose is good, but I feel that it just follows the guitar rhythm and leads, but I suppose it doesn't detract from the songs.

Some of the songs are long, yes, which may be a turn-off to some. However, I didn't feel that the songs were tedious at all. In fact, the longer songs tend to have much more going on so it does not feel like a chore listening to these longer tracks. (The longer songs vary from 6 minutes to 9). All of the songs have some degree of atmosphere to them that captures your attention and doesn't drag on to like the later Opeth songs. I already have the longer songs being the most played on my Ipod.

Did I mention that Simone is a brilliant vocalist yet? This young woman has a very impressive range, sporting four octaves and she sounds nice to boot as well. Mark Jansen got a lot better over the years. When I heard the song "Cry for the Moon", I thought he was laughably bad there, but he sounds a lot better here. Before, he seemed to merely throw in the growls/screams for the sake of it. Here, he managed to put some charisma into them. Granted, his growls aren't as brutal as, say, Frank Mullen of Suffocation or Cannibal Corpse era Chris Barnes, but they work quite well. I guess starting a death metal side project and years of practice in previous albums made his voice increasingly better. Oh by the way, Mayan, Mark's side project, is also really awesome.

The "secondary" band isn't too bad either. When neither Simone nor Mark is doing any vocals in a part of a song, they have a small orchestra choir perform and their addition really does add to the atmosphere. It sounds like music that could possibly be played in the middle of an epic battle in a medieval fantasy setting.

I'm so glad I discovered this band. Detractors of such music can say what they will, but to me, Epica will be one of those bands I adore due to their uniqueness and beauty/sorrow. Give yourself a pat on the back Epica. You deserved it.

Best Songs
Requiem for the Indifferent
Monopoly in Truth
Serenade of Self-Destruction
Deter the Tyrant
Storm the Sorrow.

Epica's best album yet! - 99%

Bruce500, October 12th, 2012

I used to be an intense Epica fan awhile ago, but had gotten bored of them after I started expanding my tastes in music to more extreme forms of metal. When they announced the name of this album, I was expecting some stereotypical "make love, not war" album, and was expecting to be disappointed. However, when I bought the album after the release, I was very surprised at how much an already great band had improved their sound!

As you probably already know, Epica is mostly known for its symphonic elements and operatic clean vocals. Most people automatically label them as a power metal band because of this, because they hear mezzo-soprano singing and think Nightwish. Epica is not just a power metal band, however, and this album proves it. You can hear all sorts of elements in this album, from Beethoven to Bach, Opeth to Death, Sonata Arctica to Blind Guardian. It's not often that you find a band that successfully forges its own style out of many styles, and even less often that you hear it done right. Epica's mix of mainly progressive metal with some death, power, and classical music thrown in is a combination that works a lot better that it sounds like it would.

The album starts off with a symphonic track called "Karma", which opens to "Monopoly on Truth". When the end of Karma faded into Monopoly on Truth, my ears almost exploded. The song (and entire album) takes Epica's sound and turns it into something more. This album at this point is already pushing Epica in a more aggressive direction than ever before while keeping the complex songwriting that Epica is known for. My favorite part of this album is the crisp guitar tone. In their previous albums, which were still great, the guitars were sometimes completely drowned out by synths and drums. They finally improved this in Design Your Universe and perfected it in Requiem for the Indifferent.

Heaviness aside, Requiem for the Indifferent has a lot of beautiful symphonic elements to it. The song "Delirium" is one of the most beautiful pieces I've ever heard from any musician, showing that Epica is much more than just a metal band. "Anima" reminds me of the Dimmu Borgir song "Det nye riket" with its dark sounding piano.

Of course, I can't tell you how great this album is through a review, so you're just going to have to go buy it! I highly recommend it!

Great Album - 100%

ayham qasim, June 16th, 2012

When I heard that Epica was going to be releasing a new album, the ultimate excitement I felt at that moment is indescribable. Epica is another one of those bands where each album is better than the one before, just like Soilwork, After Forever, DevilDriver, All Shall Perish, Katatonia, and Eternal Tears of Sorrow. Although not the most commercially successful, Epica has proved themselves to me (and millions of other people) that they are truly one of the (if not THE) most talented and creative symphonic metal bands of all-time. But even though that’s just a matter of opinion, anyone who is into the female-fronted symphonic metal scene can easily say that Epica holds an incredible amount of talented musicianship. In the symphonic metal area, the most BITCHED ABOUT topic is definitely who is the best singer. Some of the singers that would definitely be nominees in my book would be Tarja Turunen, Floor Jansen, and Anette Olzon. But honestly, none of them even come close to matching the paralyzing voice of Simone Simons (I’m just saying that to put my opinion out there, I’m not a music elitist). I have always loved Design Your Universe, and on December 2nd of 2010, I was convinced that Epica couldn’t POSSIBLY get ANY better when I saw them perform live with Scar Symmetry, Blackguard, and The Agonist.

Requiem for the Indifferent butchered that thought. I’m not exaggerating at all; Epica actually got better. But the sound of Requiem for the Indifferent is far from being similar to the sound of Design Your Universe. This new album made me realize that Design Your Universe is actually one of their softer albums. The reason why is because Requiem for the Indifferent takes a huge step in the death metal direction; that’s right folks, DEATH METAL! But, like every other Epica album, Requiem for the Indifferent has its fair share of ballads that cause people (including me) to shed tears with its sheer beauty and immensely powerful emotion. The song that originally got me officially HOOKED on Epica was Tides of Time (still one of my ALL-TIME favorite songs). Epica failed to disappoint me with their slightly gospel-influenced ballad, Delirium. I’m pretty sure a lot of you are asking, WHERES THE HEAVY SHIT??

The answer to that question lies in the first two tracks. These tracks are very similar to the first two tracks on The Divine Conspiracy. By that, I mean that it has the soft intro track filled with complex choir chords that suck you in like a black hole into a FAST and FUCKING HEAVY track. The only difference is that the heavy track on Requiem for the Indifferent is FAR, FAR heavier than the one off The Design Conspiracy. After the second song, you’re met with the ballad I was talking about earlier. After that, Internal Warfare relentlessly pounds you into the dirt; listening to the song should be enough to prove that statement. I guess the majority of the album’s material is made up of these merciless and heavy songs that Epica has been known to only use sparingly…until now.

Honestly, the musicians haven’t gotten any better. The reason why is because they pretty much reached capacity almost four years ago!! But that never means that it’s impossible to even further push the limits. The guitarist that also does the growls (Epica refers to them as “grunts”) and some mediocre screams improved his vocals a lot since the previous album. His growls don’t sound as weak and…I don’t know…there’s something about his growls in the previous albums…something about them that’s missing or lacking something…I’ve just never been able to put my finger on it. But whatever his vocals were lacking before was fixed; he could easily be a good fit for the next big melodic death band. And on top of that, his screams are A LOT better than before. Also, of course, Simone’s singing voice continues to go uphill while showing no signs of slowing down EVER.

This is definitely Epica’s best album without a doubt. But remember, this is the heaviest record they’ve ever put out, so it’s hard to ultimately compare it to their other material due to the near-dramatic change in overall musical style they’ve taken. When I listen to this record, I shake my head in disbelief that they actually created a record better than Design Your Universe. This is an INSTANT classic and shouldn’t be missed by anyone, symphonic metal fan or not. I would give this a perfect score on any scale. 5/5, 10/10, 20/20, 100/100, 100%, A+, whatever scale you would prefer to use (I usually go out of 20), I guarantee you that I will give it full credit. I’m so glad that I pre-ordered this CD (which came with a shirt).