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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great and varied!
The problem with some of the reviews below is that the folk reviewing have expressed their enjoyment of a specific style i.e. power metal, symphonic et al. However, if your ears are used the harder end of the musical spectrum and appreciate the more melodic, symphonic material available, then you will strike gold with this release. I previously heard Epica's last and...
Published on 16 Nov 2007 by Amazon Customer

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12 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Move into Black Metal
Most symphonic metal bands have become more accesible, for example Within Temptation, Sirenia and indeed Epica on their last album. They have now gone the other way, going from very occasional grunts and heavy passages to spoiling nearly every track with horrible grunts and thrashing black metal sections. Chasing the Dragon is perfect example, the first half is suberb,...
Published on 4 Sep 2007 by Pr Wooldridge


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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great and varied!, 16 Nov 2007
This review is from: The Divine Conspiracy (Audio CD)
The problem with some of the reviews below is that the folk reviewing have expressed their enjoyment of a specific style i.e. power metal, symphonic et al. However, if your ears are used the harder end of the musical spectrum and appreciate the more melodic, symphonic material available, then you will strike gold with this release. I previously heard Epica's last and though good, it wasn't great. This album has a great mix of everything as denoted by the other reviews and runs through a rollercoaster of various emotions, which demand attention at all times. Those who enjoy music that skips through a few genre boundaries cannot fail to enjoy this album in it's entirety.... and this comes from a death metal head!! :-)
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Black Metal Fans - You Might Just Like This!, 17 May 2008
By 
Adam Jackson (Stoke On Trent , England) - See all my reviews
This 2007 album from Dutch outfit Epica was my first foray into female fronted Symphonic Metal and as a result, I've since discovered the joys of Nightwish & Within Tempation.
It's certainly the heaviest that I've heard so far out of Epica, Nightwish & Within Temptation. There's plenty of double bass drums & the odd blastbeat not to mention some very harsh male vocals that fall into the realms of Black/Death Metal.
The album is conceptual (concerning worldwide religions) and there are even passages that are in Latin. All of this adds up to a very dark feel but without ever sounding 'evil'.
I think that Simone Simons is possibly the stronger singer currently against Sharon Den Adel & Tarja Turunen - She has the strong operatic style that Tarja has all but forsaken, and yet the accessibility of Sharon Den Adel. Simone's performance on the utterly majestic Chasing The Dragon still gives me goosebumps with it's power & range - What a chorus!
And what a juxtaposition with the growling male vocals that appear on this epic track!
The album is full of impressive orchestration, created by synths & keyboards. I could swear it was a 100 piece orchestra, it's just SO massive, so hats off to Coen Janssen for some of the genre's best ever work! The opening track, an instrumental called Indigo is spectacular, really cinematic and up there with anything from Dimmu Borgir!
Guitars & bass are strong - nothing spectacular but always adding a solid foundation to the music. Drums are powerful ranging from Power Metal to Norwegian style aggression.
The production sounds a million dollars, with every track almost a full blown symphony. Nuclear Blast always seem to back their roster with the finances to achieve their dreams in the studio. And as with Nighwish's last album, the packaging & cover art of the Digipack is superb!
Other tracks that stand out are The Obsessive Devotion, Menace of Vanity
& album closer, the 14 minute blockbuster, The Divine Conspiracy.
Massive tracks, heavy & yet tempered with mercy, with some huge choral backing ala Therion.
A few of the tracks about halfway through the album, dip a little bit & cost the album the full 5 stars - but they are all still decent.
If you've been wary of women in Metal (hands up, I was!!) then this is maybe the very best place to start as it's still heavy & powerful.
The other 2 of the 'Big 3', mentioned at the start of the review, are offering a slightly more commercial metal sound.

This is VERY powerful Symphonic Metal with a touch of Black...
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best, and maddest, albums I own, 7 May 2008
By 
Mike Bell "fleedleflump" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Divine Conspiracy (Audio CD)
Okay, I just read over the review below, and felt I hadn't got something very key across early enough: this album is BONKERS. It's mad as a box of very mad frogs. And I mean that in a good way...

This album, like Epica's earlier efforts, was a definite grower; on first listen I nodded to myself, hmmmed a little, cracked the occasional smile, and came to the conclusion that their other stuff was better. Now, after about 10 listens, I can't get enough of it!

If you've never listened to any Epica before, then please do look past the rather cheesy-sounding band name and give them a try. The closest comparison I can muster is the earlier works of After Forever (albums such as Prison of Desire and Decipher). This is no surprise when you consider that Epica was formed by Mark Jansen after he split from After Forever (his sister Floor's band) in 2002. He has even gone so far as to continue his epic "The Embrace That Smothers" sequence (begun on After Forever's Prison of Desire) with Epica, and this latest album plays host to parts 7, 8, and 9. Alternatively, it struck me that this is what Delerium and Enigma would sound like if they were speed metal bands!

Compared to earlier albums The Phantom Agony and Consign to Oblivion, The Divine Conspiracy reveals itself to have an extra, carefully applied, layer of polish. The production is smoother, and achieves a sharp, concise sound without boxing in the music too much. The orchestration here is notably superior to previous albums, both in composition and performance, and is a far arger element of the music than previously.

Most notably, however, the tracks are more consistently addictive. They remain complex, disparate, and experimental, whilst maintaining an underlying feeling of theme. Previous albums were also of a very high quality, and until listening to this one I would have said Consign to Oblivion was about as well as this style of gothic/operatic/orchestral metal could be done. The Divine Conspiracy does it better.

As usual, Simone Simons' voice is gorgeous, and perfectly beds in with the music. Her presence is the calm centre that anchors the ultra-fast guitars, frankly nuts drumming, death-metal growls, orchestral arrangements, and choirs that constantly surround her. The quality of the performances is very high, and rarely do the tracks go from complexity to confusion, as sometimes happened in earlier Epica efforts. It's beautiful, fearsome, and always awesome.

It took me a while to realise why I like this album so much. It's not just the beautiful vocals, the excellent arrangements, the striking complexity, or the incredible speed at which it's all played. It's the fact that it all comes at you simultaneously, and leaves you reeling. This is the music of chaos, and I love it!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is Quality Music, 28 Feb 2008
This review is from: The Divine Conspiracy (Audio CD)
I wasn't very familiar with Epica before I heard this album. After only hearing a few of their previous songs, which I liked, I decided to take the chance. On my first listen I didn't quite get it!
Don't get me wrong, this album is one in a million. However I feel that Epica's bombastic sound, at least on this album, is very hard to swallow at first, even in comparison to similar bands such as Nightwish. This stuff is not background music and it demands all your attenion in order for you to get something out of it.
The composition of each song is in fact genius. What I originally thought was gratuitous overuse of choir and orchestra eventually turned out to be, for me, some of the best music I've ever heard in metal. The brilliant catchiness of Menace of Vanity and Sancta Terra mixed with the blistering heat of songs like Death of a Dream and Fools of Damnation makes for a very captivating and moving listen. The album might at first seem like a blur of noise and histrionics, but as you listen more you'll find a lot of serious depth and identity to be discovered within each of the songs.
Another thing that really makes Epica interesting is the subject matter of their music. Symphonic and power metal bands often use their music to either explore fantastical stories or express heartache and anger. Epica is more mature not only in a musical sense but in a lyrical sense, as they explore topics such as relegion, philosophy, society and politics. Even when they explore the already visted (and revisted) realm of relationships, it's done in an exceptionally interesting way.
So if you're a person who likes to escape and disappear into the music they listen to, please buy this because you won't regret a single penny of your money. The amount of power, emotion, intellect and quality contained in this piece is exceptional for any CD and I would strongly recommend it for anyone with any taste in heavy metal or classical music.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly brilliant slab of operatic, metallic heaven!, 13 Oct 2007
By 
Mr. J. S. Crivello (Brighton, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Well, what can I say...

I was excited about this album as soon as I heard about it, so I ordered it straight away.
It arrived on the day it came out and as soon as I listened to it I was absolutely blown away!

The main thing I have to say about this album is that it is so much heavier than any other female-fronted operatic metal I have heard, and on that note I must leave.

I recommend this album to anyone who enjoys operatic metal in any form and would like a breath of (incredibly epic) fresh air for the genre. 'The Divine Conspiracy' is a truly brilliant album and is most certainly my favourite operatic metal album ever, definitely one of the albums of the year!
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ..close the phones, album of the year.., 19 Aug 2007
By 
Mr. H "Mr H" (Embra) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
The horse wept blood
And the earth did groan
The tall horse reared
From a lake of tears
To seek a Champion
To seek a Champion

And we have one! It's been a bleak old year in the world of female fronted gothic metal, with few challengers to the throne formerly occupied by Lacuna Coil (transferred to the world of pop) and Nightwish (self immolation), but this is the one I've been waiting for. A truly stunning album which sees the Dutch outfit finally fulfilling the promise they've shown since their 2003 debut 'The Phantom Agony'.

There isn't a wasted moment in this album, as Simone Simons, Mark Jansen, Ad Sluitjer, Coen Janssen and Yves Huts (along with guest drummer, AriŽn van Weesenbeek from God Dethroned) work their way through an intricate set of perfectly arranged and orchestrated metal, replete with a wide ranging conceptual motif on the nature of God, which is easily a top contender for album of the year.

How do you pick favourites from an album that just demands to be played from beginning to end. Repeatedly. It's madness. But their standard blend of clean female vocals and male growls is lifted out of the ordinary not just by the quality of the material, but by some clever engineering, as the music drops back slightly when Simone comes to the fore and then rises up again as Mark launches into his guttural passages. It also reaches a bombastic peak when the choir is brought up in the mix. Nice.

Musically, they're still working the field of operatic metal, but they've held on to some of the rougher metal edges that many of their contemporaries shy away from. If, on pain of death, I had to pick a favourite it would probably be 'Chasing The Dragon', a song that starts off as a fragile, ethereal ballad, developing over time into a brutal slab of near black / battle metal. An unexpected song structure, which works incredibly well.

Elsewhere, the songs which manage to stand out often integrate Arabic and Middle Eastern musical motifs, something they've toyed with over the years, but never to this extent. Check out opening track 'The Obsessive Devotion' 'La'petach Chatat Rovetz - The Last Embrace' and 'Fools of Damnation - The Embrace That Smothers Part IX' for proof.

Oh, hang it all, this is my album of the year. Stunning beyond words.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Internal Conflict, 2 Sep 2008
By 
This review is from: The Divine Conspiracy (Audio CD)
The Divine Conspiracy
I don't think i have ever owned an album that has given me so much conflict when deciding my opinion on it. I have owned this album since the day of release last year and have listened to it countless times and each time i listen to it i always come away with some different opinion about it. Initially i have to admit i was with the Death Metal Skeptics who claimed that the larger quantity of Death metal styled Growls ruined the album, but then i only have to think back to the Phantom Agony when i felt the opposite, actually hoping for more Death screams and growls to dirty up the album more. But the more i listen to it the more i realise how each element such as the growls, the angelic vocals and powerful symphony complement each other more than any other Epica album before has done. I especially enjoy the greater return of Jansen's trademark Eastern musical Influences brought over from After Forever which were sorely missed after his departure. All in all this is a super follow up to Consign to Oblivion, granted it does take a little longer to get 'it'. But with an album of such raw power, bombast and quality you really owe it to yourself to persevere as when you reach the day of Epiphany you'll look back and be damned glad you did.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not bad, 24 Jan 2012
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This review is from: The Divine Conspiracy (Audio CD)
I love nightwish and that is what drew me to this band.I am not going to compare them other than to say they are both symphonic metal bands but epica have an element of death/black metal in their music.Were it not for the death/black metal style singing that their male vocalist uses i could easily have given this album 5 stars.Not being a fan of either death or black metal this style of singing ruins the music to a certain point for me but simone is an excellent singer and this coupled with their symphonic metal sound allows me to live with the male vocals and enjoy the album but as i mentioned above i love nightwish and this also contributes to me liking epica so if you also like nightwish but would not rank them in your top two or three bands then i would recommend going to youtube and listening to some of the songs there before buying this album

Update: I have now gotten all of their albums, design your universe, consign to oblivion and the phantom agony.Now that i have gotten to know them better i am finding the grunting and screaming easier to listen to and my opinion of the divine conspiracy has improved, i have updated my rating from 4 stars to 5 and the highlights for me are the obsessive devotion and the title track the divine conspiracy.I would say this and consign to oblivion are the two best of the four so far.A great album produced by a great band
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Divine Conspiracy, 17 Aug 2014
By 
Amazon Customer (England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
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This review is from: The Divine Conspiracy (Audio CD)
The Divine Conspiracy is only the second CD that I have bought by Epica. It is very different to the older CD that I bought and has a lot more 'attack' about it. The drumming seems to be different and I suspect that there is a different drummer but I haven't checked. Overall I think it is better than the earlier CD that I bought and I play it all the time at the moment. There are a lot of very distinctive tracks.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great album, 28 May 2014
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Epica are masters at combining the elements of classical music with metal to make this genre more accessible than ever
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