It has been now almost a week since Epica released their latest album “The Holographic Principle”. I purchased the iTunes version of it (try to shop from some decent metal music in Best Buy, since there are no more any record store in town) and it has been fairly playing in loop for a week now both when commuting and at work typing a grant or prepping some quizzes to my students.
Well after what I can say, is wow. Simply wow. There are some stuff that I did not really liked it (I will talk about it later) but overall this has been a while that Epica bluffed me with their new release. “Requiem for Indifferent” was okay, “The Quantum Enigma” was fair but not what I was waiting from Epica. Epica is for me synomym of loud, heavy, orchestral and boombastic with fast-paced drumbeat and crazy bass shred.
The album (at least its iTunes version) contains 12 titles and 5 “easy listening” cover of same songs in the album, with a twist in their name.
It starts with some instrumental and orchestral opening sequence, clearly setting the tone: this is gonna be an heavy and loud album. It is rapidly followed by “Edge of the Blade” that has already been online for a couple of months:
That’s some Epica but yet fairly similar to what we have been used these few years. But this is also a great primer to promote the album to a more mainstream audience. This is followed by “A Phantasmic Parade” that slowly and surely tunes up more aggressive riffs and faster drums. The stuff start to become serious once you reach the third song. The third title of the album is “Universal Death Squad” and here things starts to get seriously heavy and bold, reminding some of the best tracks of “Design Your Universe” but in the same time familiar to “The Quantum Enigma”. Its loud, fast-paced and nicely well crafted. Just listen to it:
The next title is “Divide and Conquer” that seems kind of a continuation of the story told in “Deter the Tyrant” and “Serenade of Self-Destruction” that have been following the Libyan Revolution. Mark Jansen is excelling in his growls, the tune is very good and motivating. The summun is certainly hearing Nicolas Sarkozy claiming “Vive Benghazi! Vive la Libye!”. We flow in the same direction with “Beyond The Matrix”.
Then comes the seven track “Once Upon A Nightmare”, certainly the most beauticul track of the album. Very well produced and orchestrated track, giving this sense of epic song into it that it litteraly gives you tears in your eyes.
The eight track “The Cosmic Algorithm” is sounding some good old Epica and “Ascension – Dream State Armageddon” that explore certain aspect of Melodic and Technical Death Metal. “Dancing In A Hurricane” brings back this Middle-Eastern sound that reminds us that before Epica was named Epica it was named Sahara Dust. “Tears Down Your Walls” closes the first part of the album with what best Epica can do, with a style blending Death Metal and Symphonic, giving a sound I found very similar to what I would expect from a Kataklysm album.
Finally we close the first part with the symphonic metal suite “The Holograhic Principle” starting crescendo and in my opinion is the second best track. It is very well designed and produced that is my second favorite track of the album
The second part of the album is certainly the annoying part I found. Not because it is bad but it is because it is non-metal versions of some of the songs from the first part. Some are good, some are more like “easy listening” in the chord of what you would expect to hear in a Starbucks or any hipster place. For me, it sounds annoying and sure I would not mind if it was as part of an extra edition or a Deluxe edition. I felt it was more than a chainball than anything else.
In conclusion, although some aspects of the album bothered me, it is still the best metal album of September, therefore gaining my “Album of the Month” sticker. Epica, once again, proves that their motto is crafting their album with time and love, as Rembrandt did with his painting. Go get it!