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Epica - 'The Quantum Enigma' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     May 21, 2014    
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A juggernaut of an album.

Like the convey belt of storms that battered Southern U.K. a few months ago, the biggest Symphonic Metal acts continue to release albums that swiftly touch down one after another. Virtually every major name in the genre has released something in the recently and now its Epica's turn with their sixth studio release 'The Quantum Enigma'.

One recent new album trend that Epica hasn't followed is the one where everyone's latest has been their heaviest. Epica have always been viewed as one of the most rapacious bands in the Symphonic stable and I assumed if they followed suit this could have potentially been pretty brutal. Instead, they have released an album that is musically a bit of a contradiction and an enigma in itself.

In those places, where Mark Jansen, Isaac Delahaye and the rest of the guys let rip, it's pretty hostile stuff and some of their most furious performances yet. But each time this is followed by massive melodic sections of arrangements, choir or Simone Simons' gorgeous vocals which more than balances out the aggression and as a whole makes the album actually feel slightly lighter than some of their others.

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'...Enigma' is certainly more accessible and less malevolent than their last ('Requiem For The Indifferent') which was also rather Progressive as well (although '...Enigma' is still a hefty affair compared to most comparable bands). This contrasting feel is quite prevalent in 'The Essence Of Silence', 'Victims Of Contingency' and 'Chemical Insomnia' where the intense, frenzied axe work and grunts (which generally appear less than before) are followed by sweeping choral passages and soaring soprano vocals with all of them having memorable choruses.

Like all their previous efforts, there is a deep and thoughtful theme that runs through '...Enigma'. It's far too complex to explain properly here but in lay-mans terms it's based around the concept of do we all see and hear the same thing; it's a "if a tree falls in the woods..." notion. Musically a lot of their recognisable elements are present with intense guitars, massive soundtrack-like arrangements and lots of Gothic, chanting choirs as found in 'The Second Stone', 'Unchain Utopia' and 'Natural Corruption'. There are also the expected lengthy and intricate songs like 'Sense Without Sanity' and the colossal twelve minute title track; it's a juggernaut of a song for a juggernaut of an album!

Whilst Epica has bucked the heaviness trend, they have followed the recent fad of bands produced their best music to date. This is far and away my favourite Epica album and in my opinion also their best so far. I highly recommend this fabulous release, especially to those readers who are into the heavier branch of Symphonic Metal.

Dave Scott

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