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4.8 out of 5 stars
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on 5 January 2005
This is by far a must have album - and if you are a huge follower of Gothic Metal then don't let this beauty pass you by! "The Phantom Agony" is ideal for fans of Nightwish and Therion - and features the alarmingly beautiful vocals of Simone Simons. She and the soaring and striking backing choirs are what makes this album, and the growling male vocals secondly are amazing. It exudes emotion and intensity, and I've never heard anything like it! The highlights being "Cry for the moon," - "Illusive Consensus," and "The Phantom Agony."
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on 22 December 2004
Yeah you've probably not heard of em, while the likes of Nightwish and Within Temptation have been taking the limelight. But Epica rock on a epic scale. Think Nightwish with the added extra of growly kristania style vocals thrown in for good measure and you might have an idea of how good they are. All the tracks are fantastic with 'Sensorium', 'Cry for the Moon' and 'The phantom agony' being particular favourites. Get this album and you will not be disappointed.
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on 30 October 2013
It was a bit of a shot in the dark buying this album as I had not heard of this band before. However, after reading positive reviews and also doing some research via YouTube I was instantly hooked. Bearing in mind that i am a chap of mature years, I must admit that i really like this genre of music but there is an awful lot of mediocre stuff within it but Epica are in a league of their own. The girl's beautiful soprano voice against a choral background, coupled with very tight drums and heavy overdriven guitar with often machinegun-like rhythms is a heady cocktail. I have to admit that I don't much care for the growly death metal vocals which sometimes occur but they don't happen enough to mar my overall pleasure in this band and I shall be looking at their other albums now.
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on 2 May 2014
This is not only one of the finest symphonic metal albums ever made but also right up there in classically influenced rock music, all the way back to things like 'Close to the Edge' and 'Atom Heart Mother'. So not just for those who like metal but anyone who enjoys progressive rock and even opera fans. Simone Simons (who I think was still a teenager when it was recorded) has a highly distinctive mezzo voice (she's since moved more towards a higher range soprano) and sounds rather like an angelic choirboy. The themes on the record are also extremely thought-provoking continuing Mark Jansen's critique of religion and including the outstanding 'Feint' written following the murder of controversial Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn. Rock music at its absolute peak.
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VINE VOICEon 13 July 2014
The Phantom Agony - Expanded Edition comes with a second CD with just the orchestral backing to the tracks on it. Initially I wondered what the purpose of this was until I listened to it. I now struggle to decide which CD to play because the second disc is so good.
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on 3 June 2004
Yet another band i discovered this year.Epica is kind of like, Evanesence meets Gothic meets opera.I was totally blown away by Epica.Beautifully crafted music, with haunting vocals that will make the hairs on your neck stand on end.I recommend that you go out and buy this album. Brilliant & Amazing !!!!!
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on 25 October 2015
This was even better than what I expected. The second CD is AMAZING. Epica is one of my favorite bands... since the very first time I was introduced to them by a friend (around the time they released this very album).
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on 29 October 2013
Epica's music in my opinion is Symphonic/Metal/Rock at it's best. This album, as with all their albums is an absolute joy to listen to. This expanded version comes with a second cd which has orchestral versions of most of the tracks on cd 1. I'm quite a new fan of Epica, & I'm really pleased that they re-released this album. Excellent value for money too.
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on 9 January 2011
Having been a big Epica fan for a while, I of course had to get my hands on their first full length album; "The Phantom Agony". In all honesty, it isn't quite as fantastic as their two most recent albums (Divine Conspiracy and Design Your Universe). That said, as anyone who knows Epica will know, that even if it doesn't live up to their later albums, that does not mean it is not a great album! My feeling is that you can sense their youth and relative inexperience at this point in their career. At this point, Simone (singer) was only around 18, extremely young, and for her age, her voice is incredible! As usual, Simone's vocals stun, as does the instrumentation.

That said, there are elements which show their inexperience a little. The sound and production quality aren't perfect (not bad either though), and the song writing isn't as tight as it is later on. But don't take these as serious criticisms; they are just observations, and I am only being picky as I am used to their music being incredible! For a first album, this is highly impressive and you really can't help but love it. The main difference is that it takes a few listens before you realise quite how good it is, unlike their later albums which are great from 1st listen. Anyway, simply put, The Phantom Agony is stuffed with great songs, which are still played live. Sensorium, Cry for the Moon and Feint are now classics, and Seif-al-Din and Triumph of Defeat (a more or less instrumental track) are new favourites for me.

In a nutshell, although I personally think Epica have improved a bit since this time, this album is still 100% worth buying. Simone's voice is gorgeous, the music is a great mix of heavy and melodic, with the awesome mix of soprano and death growls, and there are some genuinely great songs. Its an incredible debut by a fantastic band and will definitely be a new favourite for any Epica fans and all symphonic metal fans too. I'd even recommend it to people who haven't really got into symphonic metal before, as you can't fail to be impressed by the vocals and songwriting!!
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on 29 January 2004
Epica are part of the genre which includes extremely the talented After Forever and Nightwish, and on the basis of this album, they can stand toe-to-toe with both in terms of creativity, musicianship and style.
There's not a lot to complain about on this album: the vocals are crisp, sharp and powerful - and the interlacing of them with the grunts and growls from the male vocalist is extremely well done, avoiding the tackiness that other bands manage attempting the same thing.
What else is there to say? The lyrics are great, the music is catchy, the guitars, keyboards and drums are all used extremely well and the only dissapointment is that there isn't more material avaliable by them. A definate contender for album of the year (2003) and definately my most favourite new 'discovery' in quite a while.
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