Customer Review

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Claiming the throne of symphonic metal (again)!, 15 Oct 2009
This review is from: Design Your Universe (Audio CD)
After the previous masterpiece under the title "The Divine Conspiracy" I was really anxious (and sceptic) about what Epica could offer next. Don't forget that Epica's main composer, Mark Jansen, has been sharing his vision and writing abilities since the glorious days of After Forever (R.I.P.) (remember Prison of Desire & Decipher anyone?). However, there is no need to worry! Mark Jansen & Co are a reliable and massively talented band and have a lot more to offer. This new brilliant album just proves that and shows how hard the band has been constantly working through the years. Honestly, "Design Your Universe" has so many things one can enjoy!

The album is epic and bombastic with amazing melodies, huge choirs, impressively tight rhythm section and on top of that it is complemented by the heavenly voice of Simone Simons (if anyone still has doubts just listen to her voice shining in the superb ballad "Tides of Time"). Even the grunts are generally better in this album. Also, I am sure that having two ex-God Dethroned members in guitars and drums has given much more flexibility in the writing process and added more value to the technical proficiency of the band's music. This explains the existence of more solos, progressive elements and many thundering double-bass parts that make you want to start learning drums yourself (yes, AriŽn van Weesenbeek is that good!). I mean there are riffs and crushing songs that even the mighty Amon Amarth will wish they had written. For instance, you can hear that in one of my personal favourites "Martyr of the Free Word" (and oh my god, what a heavenly Gregorian chant comes in out of the blue in 2:45!!). "Our Destiny" is another great song with catchy melodies and blends Simone`s vocals with the choir so nicely in the end! The big epic song of the album is called "Kingdom of Heaven" and clocks at 13:35 (no comment on that!). Songs like "Unleashed" (for which they made a video), "Burn to a Cinder" or "Deconstruct" bring to mind After Forever at their best. Interestingly, in "White Waters" we can enjoy a nice duet between Tony Kakko (from Sonata Arctica) and Simone. The (over 9 minutes) title track closes the album with massive symphonic sounds and great choirs. If this is not enough for you, the limited edition offers a bonus track and of course a very nice packaging.

Overall, Epica's new album is an adventurous journey for the listener: grand, epic, cinematic, highly symphonic, emotional and very heavy. Only a few symphonic metal bands (I don't really approve the term female-fronted) can claim that they have these attributes and maintain the high quality in their compositions combined with the strong vocals which this genre requires (for whom the bell tolls?). Once again, well done Epica!
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 17 Oct 2009 19:41:15 BDT
Adam Jackson says:
A superb & highly informative review!!
One question though; Have the band progressed to using full scale orchestra or at least string sections or are they still relying on keyboards for the symphonic stuff??

In reply to an earlier post on 23 Oct 2009 00:42:48 BDT
hadesfallen says:
Epica only used keyboard and synth for Symphonia on there first album (phantom agony), every album since has been with the use of a small orchestra. The Classical Conspiracy (live album) recently released is a great introduction to there music with a proper orchestra and defintely worth listening to.

Posted on 23 Oct 2009 02:28:53 BDT
Fotis P. says:
Yes, unfortunately Epica do not have the luxury of using a full scale orchestra in their albums (unlike Nightwish who can afford to use the famous London Philarmonic Orchestra). They have been using the same 8-9 piece choir which they call "The Epica Choir" and the orchestral parts are mainly arranged by Coen Janssen (the keyboard player) and Mark Jansen together with some other people (e.g., Miro Rodenberg for this album). The gregorian chants in Kingdom of Heaven are taken from the Tibetan monks of Gyuto. As mentioned in the previous post, a great chance to hear Epica collaborating with a full scale real orchestra is The Classical Conspiracy. Also, you could try the (live) album "We will take you with us" where they use a small number of guest musicians (e.g., violin and cello) together with the Epica choir (although I am sure you know that already!).

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Nov 2009 18:31:36 GMT
R. W. says:
Can't afford to get a full orchestra, I can tell you that I and many others would play for free just for the chance to play with a band like this.
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