Epica – The Holographic Principle (Review)

EpicaEpica are a symphonic metal band from the Netherlands and this is their eighth album.

Epica are famous for their epic, (ahem), symphonic sound, all larger-than-life melodies, ostentatious orchestration and luscious, enticing vocals. And it works. They’ve made a career out of it and currently sit as one of the biggest bands in the style.

I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for Epica, ever since I was first intrigued by their singer’s guest slot on a Kamelot song and then subsequently heard their second album. I enjoyed them then and I enjoy them now.

Once you get past the exotic and rather grand veneer that the music has, the songs themselves are mostly actually relatively simple affairs. This is not a bad thing. The most important aspect of any band like this is the quality of the songs, their ability to capture the imagination and, ultimately, how enjoyable they are. At this point in their career Epica know how to write a good tune, so once they’ve done so it’s then just a case of dressing it up into its flashy, impressively colourful final form.

The focal point of any Epica song is, of course, the sublime vocals of their singer. Once again her voice is the crowning centrepiece of this rich feast, and I can’t find fault with her performance at all. I have no qualms about the fact that I’ve always thought she’s had a great voice, and on this latest release nothing has changed in this regard.

Her vocals engage with the listener easily and there is a smorgasbord of tasty melodies and harmonies on here; as soon as you’ve digested one another comes along almost straight away. It’s quite the feast.

I enjoy the band’s symphonic aspects greatly, and I especially like their penchant for grand orchestration and choral/operatic elements. It’s all done extremely well, although I’m sure that the bombastic ostentation will be too much for some.

For all of their colourful and textured airs, first and foremost Epica are a metal band, and I’m glad that they don’t forget this. This means that they still pay attention to the actual riffs themselves, and they still employ growled/harsh vocals here and there. Sure, this may not be the heaviest beast around, but it’s not the lightest either. Some bands of this style treat the guitars almost as an afterthought, but here the band give the guitars just as much thought as everything else.

With enjoyably sugary songs that actually have a bit of bulk to them to keep you satisfied for longer, this is a very enjoyable album of symphonic metal, played by professionals who know what people want in this kind of music. They want a showy spectacle, but they also want substance as well as the style. Epica do both well, and The Holographic Principle is a winner in my books.

Highly recommended.

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