Epica – The Holographic Principle
Out 30th September, 2016
Epica Line Up —
Simone Simons // Vocals
Mark Jansen // Rhythm Guitar & Vocals
Isaac Delahaye // Lead Guitar
Rob van der Loo // Bass Guitar
Coen Janssen // Keyboards & Synthesiser
Arien van Weesenbeek // Drums & Vocals
Epica Online —
It has been only two short years since Epica released their widely acclaimed sixth studio album, The Quantum Enigma, raising questions as to whether or not this new album will be up to the stringent standards of the previous releases. After the first few songs, it becomes clear that The Holographic Principle isn’t standard in any sense of the word, it is far, far better.
Opening track ‘Eidola’s ominous, booming horns and drums merge artfully with each added instrument, creating a layered aural delight, building into the absolutely brilliant single, ‘Edge of the Blade’. The dual vocals of Mark Jansen and Simone Simons complement each other perfectly, but when meshed with the added choir on this track, it raises the whole experience to another level. The vocals on the whole album are markedly more experimental than previous releases, showcasing an extreme variety of styles; Simons’ soaring melodious voice will often hit astoundingly high notes before dropping back down to meld with the strings. Jansen’s vocals are also more prominent fucking brilliant) allowing the contrast between the light and the dark of Epica to be on full show.
The instrumentation on The Holographic Principle has gone above and beyond their previous works, as Isaac Delahaye will shred his way through a bridge before pulling out the all the stops and machine gun his way through the next verse, really adding the heavy that Epica are so well known for. However, the most notable instrumental change is the real use of additional instruments over samples. Violins and horns pop up all over the album and it makes a clear, very welcomed difference, making the already expansive sound of Epica reach boggling proportions. Every song now feels like a grand adventure as one journeys through the vast, forever shifting soundscapes that make up the tracks of this album.
The dichotomy of Epica is such that they’ve always had to balance their sounds against each other, but with this offering, all balance issues have disappeared; it has enough sprawling and twinkling keys to please even the least metal minded while injecting heavy, brutal moments of death metal into the mix. ‘Ascension – Dream State Armageddon’ is just one example of the keyboard induced eeriness, a la Coen Janssen, that the band can construct before Arien van Weesenenbeeck’s drums pulverise the calm. Somehow, Weesenbeeck manages to keep the devastatingly fast pace continuing even while the silvery tones of Simons come into play. Hearing it all come together is truly wonder in teamwork and songwriting.
If any criticism was to be offered, it would only be that the first few songs tend to bleed together, as liberal use of the choir is at times disorienting, but ‘Once Upon a Nightmare’ shifts the Epica formula and starts with a hauntingly beautiful string section that would bring even the most manly of men to dry their eyes. Subsequent tracks ‘Dancing in a Hurricane’ and ‘Tear Down Your Walls’ also bring in the differing styles that the band have been experimenting with, ranging from an almost Middle Eastern influence to a flat out death metal approach, much to this reviewer’s delight. It is truly hard to believe that Epica have crafted The Holographic Principle in only two years, as the progress they’ve made with this album is truly unbelievable and should be applauded.
Epica are once again living up to their name with their seventh studio album, continuing their love affair with quantum physics and the questions of existence but in a more realised and sonically awe inspiring way. The Holographic Principle is as solid as they come, pushing the benchmark of symphonic death metal higher than ever.
The Holographic Principle Track Listing —
- Edge of the Blade
- A Phantasmic Parade
- Universal Death Squad
- Divide and Conquer
- Beyond the Matrix
- Once Upon a Nightmare
- The Cosmic Algorithm
- Ascension – Dream State Armageddon
- Dancing in a Hurricane
- Tear Down Your Walls
- The Holographic Principle – A Profound Understanding of Reality