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How anybody can listen to Epica and dismiss them as a second rate nightwish is beyond me. This album shows how far beyond Nightwish, and similar bands, they really are.
The Score - An Epic Journey is an almost fully-orchestral film soundtrack for a Dutch film called Joyride. Composed almost entirely by Mark Jansen and Yves Huts, this is a chance for them to not only show off the skills they possess regarding orchestration and composing, but to evolve on their past work, to increase their understanding.
Although, this is certianly no practice album. It is hard not to be dazed by some of the songs on Score. On some songs, such as The Valley, I just sat there with my mouth open, listening to different sounds meandering into the foreground, and marvelling at the power and epic qualities that this soundtrack possesses. Some of the slow tracks were a little tiresome, but it is a soundtrack, so they have to be there. I can forgive that. The rest of them, however, were a joy to listen to. I'm not normally big on this kind of music, but it held my attention superbly.
I have to concede that some of the tracks on this soundtrack are not as original as one would expect, with tracks that are surprising reminiscent of Pirates of the Carribean, Harry Potter or even Star Wars, but they are certainly not the same, and are still incredibly enjoyable to listen to. Besides, who am I to judge where Jansen and Huts draw inspiration from?
There were hints toward what to expect on Score on Epica's previous album, Consign To Oblivion, noteably the rather over-the-top prologue. And flashbacks to Consign To Oblivion can be heard in Score, with Trois Vierges making a comeback, this time in the form of a solo version, and reprise version. The single version of Solitary ground also makes an appearance. But, keeping the attention of metal fans is a special Score version of Quietus, which kicks off with electric guitar, before the original version did, but is more orchestral than the original, and in my opinion, more of a joy to listen to, and more refined.
The Score - An Epic Journey is a must have for Epica fans. Not an ideal first album, simply because it is an unusual piece, but for any established fans it is an essential part of your collection. Epic to hear, and memorable, surpasses antying they have done before in sheer skill and prowess.
A second-rate Nightwish Epica are not, and I expect that we will hear a much more mature, refined and orchestral sound in the upandcoming album The Divine Conspiracy.