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Like Nightwish before the mallcore - 50%

Zombie_Quixote, June 10th, 2008

I'm not quite ready to buy into this band yet. I love Kamelot and this band at times resonates that sound. Yet mostly they sound like a combination between early Nightwish and Battlelore.

This might not be such a bad thing. Nightwish had its moments before the advent of chugging, mallcore breakdowns infected their music like a plague. And Battlelore, well, I never really liked Battlelore, but I always thought that the one harsh, one clean vocalist, could be done well if done properly.

Which, unfortunately, very few bands are able to do, though not for a lack of trying. The trap they so oft fall into, and Epica is no exception, is that their vocal lines become predictable. It's almost become like clockwork, you can nearly time when the harsh vocals are about to kick in or when they are about to fade into clean vocals. Furthermore, it seems that many bands incorporate growls for the sake of incorporating growls. Such is the case with Epica. Their growler, Mark Jansen, is boring. He's unenthusiastic and stagnant. You kind of get the feeling he's struggling with the vocal style as though he'd prefer to just belt things out in an Anselmo (Pantera) impression. I never once got the feeling that he was into the vocals as I do so often while listening to Lord Worm or Mikael Stanne.

Simone Simmons is clearly much more enthused to be singing. She sings with operatic flair which sometimes is her downfall. Her vocal lines are often beautiful, true, but at times they seem like she's simply trying to exhibit her range rather than hook you in with a good vocal line which, really, is what power metal, or even symphonic metal, should be about. Tarja Turnen often fell into that same trap, and we forgave her for it for a while.

Which brings us to the music which is the true folly of Epica. I'm tired of symphonic metal that thinks if they steal a few tricks from Wagner and John Williams they should be dubbed symphonic when so often they come off sounding like a Disney sountrack with guitars. I'm tired of bands that "blur the lines" between symphony and goth. It's not revolutionary or even interesting. It's boring. Many doom bands- My Dying Bride, Evoken, and Pantheist to name a few- have learned how to include classical nuances with subtlety, and subtlety is really the key. For a power metal outfit, Blind Guardian did it the right way with A Night At the Opera, and sure it took them four years, but the finished product is an album that compliments the symphonic and bombastic with the bands guitar and vocal lines.

I'm not asking this band to be Blind Guardian. I'm not even asking this band to be Rhapsody. I'm asking this band to try and they haven't shown me that they're willing to do that yet.