Review Summary: Total Epicness, Anyone?
Let's imagine that each discography is a city. The band, song by song, record by record is constructing a town, with good buildings and minor ones. The more talented the band is, the greater the city.
Now, what about Epica's buildings? They have a decent discography, consisted by six albums, and from album to album, they are trying to make a progress, to evolve their sound and leave their mark on music. Have they used their space and bricks with wisdom, or do they hastily build ramshackle buildings, no one wants to live in?
The answer would be the first one, of course. Step by step, Epica build both their personality and their city, creating only buildings with beauty equal to a Library, a Museum, a City Hall and so on.
Commenting on their more popular albums, ''The Divine Conspiracy'' would be the Library, where they would search for their identity, the basis of the songs' construction and their final lyrical approach. Then, ''Design Your Universe'' would be the City Hall, where they became dominant upon their ideas and managed to craft music with exceptional musical skills, thus making it the most precious and marvelous of their premises. ''Requiem for the Indifferent'' seems unable to enrich the city, becoming a part of it that many would ignore, as it seems pompous and arrogant, but in the end its just empty building with no architectural innovations.
Both builders and architects now have to rethink before moving on. What does their city need to become more attractive? As they brainstorm upon this matter, each and every one of them leaves their imagination go wild. Architects design neither a palace, nor a library. What they have in mind is a structure for the sake of art itself, a bombastic edifice, a giant among the other premises, a big ***ing goliath.
Enormous towers, breath-taking gardens, gigantic arches and complex corridors, bridges and stairs, halls and chambers. Marbles, statues, paintings and silk, wealth in vast amounts and golden rooftops. Glass domes that diffract light, streams and fountains.
Indeed, Epica have released one of their greatest- if not their best yet - albums. Last year, with their singer, Simone Simons being pregnant, touring was not an option, so they grasped the opportunity to compose material carefully, choosing and rejecting ideas. New elements find their place in this album, as if they came along with their new bassist, Rob Van der Loo - who replaced Ad Sluijter - such as more metal solos, bigger interludes, unusual - for their standards - guitar parts and less grunts, reminding us the ''Consign to Oblivion'' era.
Choir and orchestra cooperate with the band excellently, melody is far more apparent here than in their predecessor, arousing a bigger variety of emotions, from esoteric and relaxing moments (The Fifth Guardian), to sadness and nostalgia(The Canvas of Life). Aggressiveness couldn't be absent of course, so Epica provide us with freakishly bad ass songs like The Second Stone, Chemical Insomnia and Reverence (Living in the Heart).
Songs are shorter than usual, as is the total album's length, but there seems to be more substance in it. The album is so full of sounds, that the first listen would be nothing more than just an outlook to its real depth. Lyrically, someone will find the most expected Epica themes, such as expanding our mind boundaries, life coexisting with death and rising against oppression.
''The Quantum Enigma'' seems to be the record they owed to the fans after their previous slip. Balanced yet complex, refreshed though faithful to their character, with superb production and a group of musicians eager to surpass their standards despite their ten year old career. Is it a must have? You don't have to master Quantum physics to understand it!