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Epic Power Metal - 100%

Cravinov13, April 29th, 2007

Kamelot's 6th studio album, released on Sanctuary Records in 2003, marks Kamelot's ultimate high as an underground Power Metal band. Epica, part one of a two part concept album based on a popular book series. With an in depth story line and even specified main characters, Epica and its sequel, Kamelot's 2005 release The Black Halo, is probably all in all one of the most complex stories in music. Unlike its sequel, Epica has a much more darker atmosphere then the The Black Halo does, and has a much more smoother flow with the songs and the interludes. Epica to date is probably Kamelot's best work, containing its share of hard hitting Power Metal music with awesome ballads and well profound lyrics.

Roy Khan, the vocalist, mixes a style of opera vocals similar to that of Tarja of Nightwish and his own unique style that could be comparable to Ville Valo of HIM. Roy Khans voice fits perfectly with the atmosphere that is overall the world of Kamelot's, and really shows his talent in songs such as Center Of The Universe, Wander, Descent Of The Archangel, A Feast Of The Vain, and Lost & Damned. Thomas Youngblood, the guitarist, is by far the most talented member in the band. Delivering fast and furious riffs on tracks like Farewell, beautiful solos on tracks like Center Of The Universe, and soft acoustic guitar picking on On The Coldest Winter Night. The overall music of Kamelot's focuses heavily on Thomas Youngblood's awesome guitar playing skills.

Glenn Barry, the bassist, is also a very talented musician, and although he is usually drowned out by Thomas Youngblood's guitar, Glenn Barry still manages to shine in tracks such as Farewell, The Edge Of Paradise, and III Ways To Epica. Casey Grillo, the drummer, is also raw talent with drum skills to match Joey Jordinson of Slipknot. Casey Grillo's drumming keeps the flow of the album together whether his band mates are delivering crushing riffs or beautiful melodies. There is also presence of two other musicians that are not official members of the band that are worth noticing. Miro, whom is the keyboardist and orchestral conductor of Kamelot's. Miro's piano skills add to the mythical effect of Kamelot's ballads and even some of their heavier tracks. Also, Mari, whom is the female vocalist featured on a couple tracks, including Helena's Theme, has an extremely beautiful voice that collaborates well with Roy Khans vocals.

Overall, Kamelot’s music is raw talent that has collaborated together to create their own special world that is Epica.

The lyrics to Epica tell an in depth description of love, lost, vanity, and greed. Creating characters such as Ariel, a powerful and wealthy man whom enjoys playing with fire, without the anticipation that he might be burned. Ariel's destiny is woven by the dark and mischievous archangel, Mephisto, whom one desire is cause ruin on poor Ariel, who's hubris has defied God, and thus Mephisto intends to punish. Helena, the beautiful maiden whom Ariel loves, who kills herself in her own grief of Ariel's vanity and Mephisto's sinister doing.

The detail that plays out Epica is much more in depth then The Black Halo was. Also, the interaction of the characters in song is remarkable, especially on the track III Ways To Epica, in which Mephisto sends Ariel into exile after the suicide of Helena, whom still speaks to Ariel in dream. Roy Khan (male vocals) and Mari (female vocals) take on several roles in Epica, including minor characters such as the River God that witnesses Helena's suicide and woes, the Master Of Ceremonies, whom introduces Mephisto to the people of Epica, played mainly by the choir featured in some of Kamelot's songs.

Epica begins with 1:07 second long Prologue which grows into the next track, Center Of The Universe, through strange samples and static that give off a very fairy-like feel to it. Center Of The Universe itself is an extremely fast paced track with the exception of a slow piece with a piano solo in the middle of the track. The track also has a solo for Mari, the female vocalist, who lends her soft voice to the melodic breakdown of the track. This track kicks off Epica with a bang, and lyrically introduces the listener into the world that is Epica. Farewell is next, starting with crushing riffs and fast drum lines before it slows down and Roy Khan comes in with his beautiful voice. Farewell then drifts into Interlude I: Opiate Soul, which begins with samples similar to Prologue before going into an aura of sounds and the haunting chant of the orchestra as the 1:10 second filler bleeds into he next track, The Edge Of Paradise.

The Edge Of Paradise starts off fast and hard, similar to that of Farewell. The songs keeps a very good flow, and near the end goes into another haunting orchestral chant before blasting back into its fast riffs and drum beats. The Edge Of Paradise is followed by Wander, which is the first acoustic track on the album. The track plays very simply, with soft guitar picking and a smooth bass line and Roy Khans beautiful voice. The song then blasts into the chorus and introduces the female vocalist with Roy Khan. This evidently making it one of the best tracks on the album. Wander then dies into the next track, a 40 second Interlude II: Omen, which plays out as a piano solo with what sounds like a thunder storm in the background. The track then goes into Descent Of The Archangel, which begins slowly before ringing into aurora bells, and finally blasting into an aura of riffs, and Roy Khan come sin, playing as the devious Mephisto, whom is introduced into the story in this song.

Interlude III: At The Banquet is next, with the sounds of people feasting and the doors closing as Ariel enters the Grand Hall. The Master Of Ceremonies gathers everyone's attention, as Mephisto comes to introduce the crowd. A Feast Of The Vain blasts into a very melodic yet heavy riff, and Roy Khan introduces the crowd, played by the choir, as Mephisto. This song has the best lyrics of all the songs on the album, and is one of the better heavy tracks on Epica. On The Coldest Winter Night finally breaks the tie of connected songs, beginning with church bells ringing, and then the slow picking of Thomas Youngblood's guitar. The song is very slow, even Roy Khans singing is kept to a low octave throughout the track. Its the second acoustic on the album, but not as good as the previous Wander. Lost & Damned comes next, with the sounds of war drums beating followed by a light piano playing, then finally topped off with heavy guitar riffs. Probably the heaviest song on the album next to Farewell, it takes a minute for the song to pick up, before overall making itself another notable track on the album.

Helena's Theme is the breakdown behind the story of The Black Halo, in which Helena commits suicide, and her death is witnessed by the mighty River God, whom blames the death on Ariel. Interlude IV: Dawn continues Helena's Theme, with enchanting bells, and a prater, whom declares to the people that Helena is dead, murdered by her own hand by the will of Ariel. The Mourning After (Carry On) is the last great track on this album. Containing extremely catchy and heavy riffs, and an awesome chorus, with lyrics describing Ariel's sorrow of Helena's death and the peoples anger. The song becomes part one of the two part tracks (The Mourning After (Carry On) and III Ways To Epica) that define Kamelot's 2005 release, The Black Halo. III Ways To Epica ends the enchanting album with Mephisto banishing Ariel to the land of Epica. The songs overall structure is a bit weaker then the other tracks on the album, but still manages to create a perfect closure to part one of this two part concept album story line.

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN FOR SPUTNIKMUSIC.COM