Review Summary: Consign to Oblivion proves itself to be a very well-crafted symphonic album that shows a huge leap in songwriting, arrangement, and overall strength.
There is a popular saying that goes something like "first impressions are the most lasting ones". This saying is particularly relevant in the world of music, with many a band being best remembered among the masses only for their debut album, with subsequent material not getting nearly as much recognition. Epica is a fortunate aversion of this, with their debut album The Phantom Agony
not getting nearly as much recognition as their later, better-liked material. This is a fortunate occurrence because The Phantom Agony
had several notable issues. The overall songwriting quality was rather sub-par, and it sounded a little too close to rhythm guitarist Mark Jansen's former band After Forever
for its own good. In contrast, Consign to Oblivion
, Epica's second album, represents a huge step forward for the band in terms of quality of songwriting.
While The Phantom Agony
had little that stood out, Consign to Oblivion
has several stand-out tracks. "Dance of Fate" begins on an energetic note, making prominent use of the Latin choir, and demonstrating that Simone Simons has grown greatly as a vocalist. "Force of the Shore" has Jansen giving one of the most challenging performances of his career, contrasting with Simons and the choir, as well as proving that he is quite a vocalist himself. "Quietus" is the most engaging song on the album, allowing the band to come to the forefront, and demonstrating their improved skill as composers. Finally, "Trois Vierges" is a very effective ballad, based around a beautiful-sounding harpsichord, and featuring none other than Kamelot
's Roy Khan performing a duet with Simons.
The title of the album is a synonym for failing to remember, and this plays greatly into the album's overall theme. The lyrics are very well-thought out, and are by far the most engaging aspect of Consign
. From "Dance of Fate":
"We cannot tell when morning comes
Is there a choice to live another day?
It's hard to find a new direction in your fragile life
The precious time of your existence is now to come
Don't throw your life away by cheating time
Sugared placebos only fool your mind"
All the lyrics are equally as engaging and meaningful, whether they be about the collapse of Mayan civilization, realizing one's importance as an individual, or being punished for one's sins.
is notably much more classically influenced than The Phantom Agony
, with the symphony frequently being more prominent than the band itself. It is good that they are trying out a new sound, but it makes the album less musically interesting. The band as a whole does little to stand out throughout Consign
, mostly blending into the background. In addition, metal fans may be disappointed to find that most of the metal elements have been moved out of the spotlight. And while the songwriting quality is good overall, there are still several lackluster tracks to be found, with "Solitary Ground" and "Another Me" slowing down the band's momentum greatly.
However, weaknesses aside, Consign to Oblivion
proves itself to be a very well-crafted symphonic album that shows a huge leap in songwriting, arrangement, and overall strength. If anyone has doubts that Epica can handle themselves after The Phantom Agony
should quell those doubts very quickly.