Top positive review
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Claiming the throne of symphonic metal (again)!
on 15 October 2009
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, Ariën 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!