Sabtu, Mei 28, 2005

Metal Storm - Epica - Consign To Oblivion - review

Epica - Consign To Oblivion

01. Hunab K’u ”A New Age Dawns” (Prologue)
02. Dance of Fate
03. The Last Crusade “A New Age Dawns” I
04. Solitary Ground
05. Blank Infinity
06. Force of the Shore
07. Quietus
08. Mother of Light “A New Age Dawns” II
09. Trois Vierges
10. Another Me “In Lack’ech”
11. Consign to Oblivion “A New Age Dawns” III

Reviewer's rating: 9 | User rating: 8.6 | Votes: 36

Review by Lost One

Finally, the day has come! Epica’s second album, Consign to Oblivion, the follow-up to their praised debut album The Phantom Agony has been released. What a beautiful piece of metal art it has become! I will be quick about the facts but I must tell you a bit about the musical background first.

As you all know, Epica’s first release was in many ways inspired by the culture and music of the East. In fact, before the band name was changed to Epica, Mark Jansen’s project was called Sahara Dust, which gives away quite a lot about the personality of this still young man. He loves to travel a lot and all the influences that he encounters somehow find their way into his music. This time the influence is the Mayan culture which Mark came across while reading a book with photos of the ancient cities. Four of the albums’ songs form a quadrilogy which revolves around one concept, namely the rise, prosper and downfall of the Mayan empire. And that, my friends, is where this CD takes off…

The first song of the album is an intro, a type of song that is getting more and more popular in the gothic scene these days. We’ve seen Epica, Nemesea, Within Temptation and many other bands do it before, and this new album is no exception. The orchestral parts are much more important on this album and it’s evident immediately in this song which is performed by the orchestra alone. It’s beautiful, but above all epic. In a way, it makes you feel like you’re flying over the mountain passes where the great Mayan civilization was founded. Amazing!

The second song, Dance of Fate, shows us how much Simone has improved her singing and just how much more self-confident she has become. The vocals aren’t all that opera-like in this song and it’s quite easy to understand the lyrics. Dance of Fate, with its nice riffs and catchy drum rythm, has death as its sad subject, and what we can do to prevent it from coming. This song is somehow very striking, and it definitely had me begging for more!

Now for my personal favourite off the new album: The Last Crusade. This song is catchy, cool, has amazing live potential (read my Epica gig review for more info on that one) and is above all an indismissable part of the ‘A New Age Dawns’ quadrilogy. In this song, the orchestra, choir and band come to a perfect symbiosis. This is undoubtedly the result of a long production period and an amazing mix by Miro and Sascha Paeth, a duo with whom Epica has worked with before. I can’t help but hit the repeat button a couple of times before continuing to the next song: Solitary Ground…

This has been chosen as the first single, and it’s quite evident why. It’s very beautiful, it’s quite a little slower than the other songs up until now and Simone’s singing is both beautiful and understandable. I love the lyrics on this one, and I cannot tell you much more about it other than that it’s pretty darn good for what it is, i.e. a ballad.

However, personally I’m a big fan of Epica’s heavy side, which is why I find Blank Infinity a little more to my own liking. The soprano voice we know so well is back here, but it’s combined with a deep singing voice of Simone we’ve never heard before. And it works too! This song is simply magnificent! You need to hear it to believe I guess, because I simply cannot explain why this works so well.

Next up: Force of the Shore. I absolutely love the beginning of this one. It hits you in the face and doesn’t let go until it’s over. The grunts get more important on this song, and it is with great happiness that I tell you how much the integration of the grunts has improved compared to ‘The Phantom Agony’. On that album, I found the grunts to be quite annoying after a while, but I never got that feeling on ‘Consign to Oblivion.” Overall, this song is very powerful, and it basically shows us exactly what Epica stands for as a band. All the elements are here, and they’re in perfect harmony once more.

Quietus. This is a very strange song, but I love it all the same. The song opens with a very medieval sounding melody, soon accompanied by the guitars and drum kit of the band. The entire song has an aura of folk music about it, and Simone’s vocals are particularly lovely in it as she once again alters between soprano vocals and more plain singing. I really love the way she has evolved herself and her voice in different directions, this song shows it!

Now for another installment in the ‘A New Age Dawns’ quadrilogy, I adore this song!! There’s simply no other way to say it. It all fits: singing, rythm, use of orchestrated parts, grunts by Mark, everything. The chorus is amazing, really catchy, almost sounding like one of those good ol’ rythm & blues songs with many new touches added. This is quite a lengthy song among the others and it doesn’t get boring anywhere. Good thing too!

Then Trois Vierges, a vocal collaboration between Simone and Roy Khan from Kamelot, the band that inspired Epica to change their initial name to what it is now. It appears that Khan was quite arrogant about his guest performance, not wanting to do it at first because he felt that singing just one song on Epica’s new album wasn’t worth the trouble. However, when Kamelot was in need of a female singer for the vocals on their song ‘The Haunting’, Simone was first to the scene and Khan could no longer refuse them his help, especially after Mark convinced him that this song was written for him and him alone. The result is a beautiful duet with a somewhat medieval feel to it, and although it may sound a little dull after Mother of Light on the first go, this song will get your attention for sure once you’ve listened to the album a couple of times more.

So we have come to the second last song of the album, a rather heavy and lovely song that goes by the name of Another Me “In Lack’ech.” The title may sound very strange, but the song is fantastic. The vocals are once again switched between, and the choir is specifically good on this song. It makes up an important part of the song’s vocals and this song surely wouldn’t be the same without it. The musical composition is spot-on too, which makes this song very easy on the ear from the beginning right on to the end.

Now there’s just one more song left for me to review. Consign to Oblivion, the epic title track and conclusion of the ‘A New Age Dawns’ story. Epica has listened well to its fans, and granted their wish of an epic, lengthy song that combines all elements and styles into one production. And so this masterpiece was born. It’s heavy, epic, fast, slow, cheerful and melancholic all at the same time. Surely, the subject is a very sad one, as this song symbolizes the defeat and destruction of the great Mayan empire. The song works, and I was speechless upon listening to it for the first time around. I can’t tell you much more about it, just listen to it yourself. You’ll fall in love with it for sure...

Well, I guess that is about all I have to say of this new gothic metal masterpiece from my little home country of Holland. Fans, be advised that the special digibook version of the album comes with a nice making-of DVD, and that the Super Audio CD version comes with two bonus tracks I will not include in this review as I haven’t heard them yet.

If you’re a fan of gothic metal, this album is an absolute must have! If you’d like to sample this style of music and see if it’s your thing, you can’t go far wrong with this one. It’s got something for everyone, and even the most hardened metal heads will be melted by Simone’s beautiful voice sooner or later. Get this if you can!

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