Epica / The Holographic Principle [Deluxe]

The Holographic Principle

Epica is a Dutch symphonic metal band, founded by guitarist and vocalist Mark Jansen after his departure from After Forever. They are known for their symphonic sound and the use of female vocals and male growls, performed by Simone Simons and Mark Jansen respectively, whilst writing primarily their lyrics. Their songs largely deal with philosophical topics, including science, politics, society,culture,history, religion, and world events.

The Holographic Principle is the seventh studio album by the Dutch symphonic metal band Epica, released on 30 September 2016 through Nuclear Blast.

The idea behind the album is the universe is a digitally generated hologram. Singer Simons indicated that the band had been writing for about a year, which resulted in 27 songs. These were whittled down to eighteen for the recording sessions with twelve featuring on the album. The additional six songs were left for a later release.

The instrumental track Eidola was written by Jansen who worked on the arrangement with keyboard player Coen Janssen “[adding] an orchestra which gives a cinematic feel”. The title refers to the Greek word Eidolon. The song Edge of the Blade was co-written by guitarist Isaac Delahaye and singer Simone Simons and was released as a single on 8 September 2016, accompanied by a video.

The Analysis—-

Eidola—-Epic would be a mass understatement to describe the opening feeling of this release. There are, as previously stated, enough sound effects and orchestration to lead you to believe you are viewing opening credits for a huge movie. This is epic, expansive…..and beautifully intricate.

Edge Of The Blade—-The keyboard that runs through this track seem right out of an ELP release….this is huge. Simone has the most pleasant voice possible…serene without being operatic like Tarja. The mix of the traded vocals are huge for a release like this…allowing for diversity and listen-ability. This is a damn catchy song….sometimes making me think of Evanescence.

A Phantasmic Parade—-Beginning with a rather jaunty keyboard line, the song opens up to an extravaganza of sonic beauty. The vocal gets a little close to annoying with the upper register, but it is not a loss. The tale is told with vivid words and the music never allows you to become bored. This is where Nightwish should be now in their career…but they have had many mis-steps. This is sonic-ally brilliant…a nice mix of beauty and brutality. The drums are brilliant!!!

Universal Death Squad—-With a string intro and a slow moving beauty, this track is a favorite of mine. The beauty and intricate melody is soon replaced by galloping drums and guitars that have a sense of brutality. When the breaks in the music occur, the orchestration is always present underneath of it….giving this a huge sound. The vocals are, at the onset a gang song of words before Simone enters and sings with a nice sense of urgency. The mix, the dichotomy of the vocal styles are brilliant….there is something for everyone.

Divide And Conquer—-Epic and seemingly movie oriented once again, this 7+ minute track is a field day of sounds and moods. This track has huge choir sounding vocals in the backdrop and a much more fluid trade off between clean and gut vocals. This is almost like a conversation taking place in your headphones. Remarkable…I’m not sure how you sit down and construct something this epic….but I’m damn glad they did. The spoken word interludes are frightening and effective!

Beyond The Matrix—-This is brilliant….from the first notes I fell in love with this track. There are swirling orchestrated lines throughout the track…..the vocals are huge and sung together like a choir….talk about EPIC!!!  Simone comes in on her own over a very heavy almost funky bass guitar line…..serving as a nice break. The drums continue at a breakneck speed though…this is incredibly well put together…I simply love this song!

Once Upon A Nightmare—-Beginning with a cello….yes, a cello, this is a bit slow to start. It is a rather dark and moody melody that builds and then ebbs back of a bit. The vocal enters and it is a bit of a let-down…a little too sweet and perfect. I don’t really care for this…..it is too plaintive and ‘Broadway’ in sound.

The Cosmic Algorithm—-Returning to full orchestrated metal, the guitars that usher in this track are just brutal. The drums are heavy and drive the track at a maddening pace. Simone delivers a much better vocal on this track….sounding more like a metal singer. This is epic….huge and brilliantly constructed. The urgency and the push the music gives off welcomes in the deeper vocal incredibly well. This is phenomenal.

Ascension: Dream State Armageddon—-Definitely dreamy at the onset, you are teased with huge drums as the vocal is delivered. Within a minute, the track opens up with a brutal vocal that is full of venom and vitriol. Jansen is a great alt vocalist for the band…..giving it a moody and real feel. This is fantastic…I could hear him for a whole release if allowed…lol. Simone and her vocal breaks up the song nicely into different moods. This is by far, the most ‘brutal’ track on the release thus far.

Dancing In A Hurricane—-This track melds directly from the previous and offers an interesting India type music before the vocal enters. The voice is as you would expect with this type of grandiosity….a bit theatrical and too brazen for my taste….but you take it as it comes right? The interesting music keeps you from becoming too bored….but this is really Broadway to me.

Tear Down Your Walls—-Another seamless transition from one track to the other, this begins much in the same fashion….suddenly opening up and exploding with huge guitars and relentless drums. This is a nice return after the previous track. Jansen returns with a brutal vocal that is urgent and maddening. Simone provides the ‘chorus’, but Jansen is the star of this track. The backdrop vocals are huge….but the musicianship is even larger. Fantastic!

The Holographic Principle: A Profound Understanding Of Reality —-11 minutes long? Seriously….yes…..seriously. Beginning with a mass of monk styled vocals and huge atmosphere, the swirls of instruments are delivered at a maddeningly slow pace. Swells and swells of music occur…while you wait…almost holding your breath to see how this opus will conclude.There are nice guitar interludes throughout…breaking up the instrumentation….Jansen delivers a backdrop vocal that adds to the urgency of the orchestration. Finally Simone enters with that toooo sweet vocal of hers….a definite dichotomy of sounds. But the return of Jensen keeps the track from downing in its own grandiosity. Not something I would listen to on a regular basis….this is just too theatrical for me.

Understanding Of Reality—-This is very, very odd to me. I don’t like the sound of the song. No……this is what I paid extra for? This is a waste of space.

Dancing In A Gypsy Camp—-Filled with gypsy styled music, this is just a redux of previous versions of songs….really a disappointment.

Immortal Melancholy—-Again…..this was a waste of money in my opinion. This sounds like it stepped right off the stage of a not very good musical. The music is stripped bare and the vocal is so theatrical I can’t get past it. I’m disgusted.

The Funky Algorithm—-This should be a crime…to take such a grand song and turn it into something that almost pokes fun at itself. This is a huge mis-step to me…I’m pissed with the offereing that cost me 5 bucks more than the original would. This is horrible.

Universal Love Squad [Alt. Version]—-Stripped down bare and removing any power that the track had in its original form, this is another unacceptable outtake from these sessions. This only made me think twice or three times about buying a deluxe version of any release this band offers.

*** out of 5

 

 

 

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