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Tuesday January 23rd 2018

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EPICA – Design Your Universe

Epica-Design Your UniverseEpica – “Design Your Universe”. Nuclear Blast, 2009.

Wow. Nuclear Blast is an appropriate label name for this band. A new fusion that is both classical and death-metal worthy. Epica blesses us with their 5th release, “Design Your Universe”. Though conceptually, ¬†symphonic metal can land in a ditch, this dutch symphonic metal band makes it work .”Design Your Universe” explores the topic of new breakthroughs in quantum physics. Their 13 tracks as well as their lyrics revolve around this topic, so you can get your science degree while enjoying the CD.

Epica explores deep topics – themes you would usually have to explore on your own. Their depth is what sets the band apart from the other hundreds of female-fronted symphonic metal bands.As a musician myself, I can appreciate the intricacies of blending an orchestra, choir, and female-fronted death metal band, and doing it well. It is very well done – the transitions are fluid and dynamic. There is quite a bit of mixing of major and minor for a dark, yet inspiring and powerful sound, especially when the orchestra stays major and the electronic strings all go minor, then layer in Simon over the top with her unbelievable vocals that have an wide range of style and sound. It comes together in an album that does not fit in a little package of “symphonic metal” or any other label.

In the same way that certain classical pieces can inspire very strong emotional reactions in people who truly appreciate them, Epica can inspire the same. Kingdom of Heaven, for instance, is nearly a 14-minute song. It is deeply layered – swinging emotion all over as it twists and turns through power portions and then flows back into a darker death sound.

With all that has been said: if you like complex, strong music that you can listen to multiple times and pick out new things for quite a few listens, this album is for you. However, if you want something that you will hear on the radio and sound “cool” , this isn’t it. This band will never get air time – it’s simply too much for the general public to consume.

Epica, as their name implies, is an epic¬† journey – traveling a lot further than many of today’s music projects even dare to dream of. It provides its listeners with both light and dark, mystery and intrigue, insight and confusion.


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