Review Summary: A seemingly revived Epica reach teh peak of their career with Design Your Universe.
Epica has always been a constant name in the genre of Symphonic Metal, but they’ve remained just that, another name. Their music has always been enjoyable to me, but easily forgettable due to the lack of musical diversity in their albums that other bands had. The addition of guitarist Isaac Delahaye made a notable difference on Epica’s latest offering, Design Your Universe.
Epica’ albums have always been a stage for Simone Simons to shine, and for good reason. She remains one of the best female singers in the genre, and displays her incredible vocal talent perfectly on this offering. Simone is the one constant advantage that Epica has had over similar bands, with her incredible range of operatic vocals and her beautifully toned-down singing. Mark Jansen’s vocal contributions should not be swept under the carpet, as they are neither overdone nor too sparse. Trading off brutal grunts and growls with Simone’s singing provides a sort of beautiful brutality, if you will.
The biggest change in this album is the instrumentation. The addition of lead guitarist Isaac Delahaye gives Design Your Universe the factor Epica was missing to become a standout in the genre. The riffs are thrashy, powerful, and most importantly they are varied. The addition of solos is a welcome one. Delahaye shows his technical skill, which is placed perfectly, and never overdone.
Behind the kit, Weesenbeek puts forth his best performance to date, utilizing fantastic footwork, some great fills, and decently complex beats. The jump in musicianship between albums is astounding, and should be a welcome addition for all those who overlooked the past efforts of Epica. Those who enjoyed Epica’s past releases will find that this album is refreshingly new, while retaining all of the aspects that you know and love.
Design Your Universe is a musical journey, with seamless transitions between incredible choir passages, beautiful operatic vocals , brutally fast and technical instrumentation in Martyr of the Free World, and emotion filled playing of the 13 minute epic Kingdom of Heaven, or the slower emotion filled Tides of Time. The greatest strength of this album is the variation within the songs, and throughout the album, never leaving you bored. If you have not enjoyed Epica in the past, don’t hesitate to give this a shot, as the whole band seems to have been revived, and they bring a passion that left me shocked.
it's an alright review but it uses past Epica albums as a reference point too much; folks like me have no idea what those albums sound like, so it's a wasted comparison. not a bad thing to do but when it comprises as much of the review as this it isn't so good.
"A seemingly revived Epica reach teh peak of their career with Design Your Universe." - should be 'the' peak.
but yeah pretty good first effort, I'll pos.
Well I asked for this from your list so I'll give you a proper crit on it : )
Your summary has a word misspelled :X try and spellcheck things before you post them. You might have fixed it by the time I've posted this but probably not.
Your first sentence is wrong. I don't think you mean they've ALWAYS been a name. Even if you do, saying "always... constant" is redundant - get rid of one of them. The second sentence needs you to explain in what way their past albums were enjoyable - a brief word on what they sound like would be appreciated too. The second part of that same sentence is good, but the syntax is clumsy; it should read something like, "...due to the lack of musical diversity within their albums, which other bands from the same genre display far more willingly." As it is it sounds like other bands have their albums, which I'm sure ain't what you mean : P
Try and vary your vocabulary a bit especially when you're using terms like 'album' which are bound to crop up frequently. Try: record, release, offering. Actually, I just spied that you use offering in the 2nd paragraph. Just read through the review afterwards and make sure you don't repeat yourself too often. Errm, the ideas in the 2nd paragraph are all good except I don't really know what the vocalist sounds like - she can do loud and quiet, cool, but what does she evoke, what does she make you feel or think, what mood does she carry? These are all important questions. Add a word to the end of the sentence about Jensen so that it says "...under the carpet either." It sometimes feels even when you're talking about related things like your mind is just flitting from subject to subject; that's easily fixed with little words and phrases to connect ideas and concepts. Again, it would be nice to know what Jensen's vocals really sound like; you give a bit of a better idea here than Simons' but given that the vocals are the first thing you mention you should really elaborate a bit more.
Into the 3rd paragraph... what 'factor' are you talking about? The added guitarist is an element - but what does he ADD to the sound and the effect of the music? Does he help connect passages, or is it simply that his melodic work is brilliant enough to step the record up a notch, or is it an injection of pace that he offers? Don't assume readers know this; I don't, and most people reading your review won't either.
Attach the bit about the drummer to the end of the 3rd paragraph and take the rest of the 4th and stick it on the beginning of your conclusion. You also go a little bit too technical for my liking on the drum work description; you're not writing a shopping list of the things he can do on a kit, you've got to explain why those things add to the music, why they were missing before and what EFFECT they have.
And then with the restructuring I suggested, you have your final paragraph. Basically, here, try not to exaggerate as much as you have done. It's as if you got to the conclusion and decided you hadn't praised it enough so you use loads of adjectives that should be spread around and applied to specific things in a general sense at the end. The same goes for the songs you cite - they need to be applied to your points gradually throughout the analysis rather than just lauded at the end as an afterthought. That said, don't base your points around the songs, just use the tracks as a way of proving the things you're saying elsewhere.
The last sentence is pretty ineffective. When you say, "If you haven't enjoyed Epica in the last," it would be a good idea to suggest - even to repeat - why this might have been the case. Then, counter it by saying that this album fixes that problem. And think of a resolved way to end it, too; ending on "...left me shocked." is a major anti-climax and doesn't do much in the way of convincing a reader that the next thing they should do is go listen to the album.
All in all, I actually understand what you're saying about the album, because the basic ideas are there and you don't exaggerate too frequently, and you seem to know what you want to say; it's just a matter of learning how to say it in a way that's less disjointed and more geared towards informing a guy that's never heard the band what sort of a listening experience they're in for.
Agreed for the most part. This was their best album yet in my opinion. I don't think that anyone will be calling them an After Forever clone anymore once they listen to this album.
Knott makes good points regarding the review. I didn't feel that it elicited the kind of illustrative effect that a really well-written review does. But all in all it was pretty good for a first review.