Epica
The Holographic Principle


3.5
great

Review

by Mythodea USER (16 Reviews)
October 6th, 2016 | 44 replies


Release Date: 2016 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A one-trick pony is just fine for once

On the first listen, all the stimuli an album has attack the ear in a hazy, unorganized way and what's left in the end is only the standout moments, both good and bad. Listening to The Holographic Principle in one sitting is quite satisfying. In all its excess, grandiosity and cheesiness, it comes out as a really good offering, with the nice parts outnumbering the mediocre ones. With successive listens though, after the element of surprise is gone, it becomes apparent that there are hidden drawbacks. Don't jump into conclusions, though, because the album really is far from being mediocre.

When ''Eidola'', the album's prelude song, starts with an Inception-like melody, it becomes apparent that Epica draw inspiration from scores. After the intro, however, the album doesn't continue in a particularly strong manner. Metal is masterfully combined with classical music, giving an expected sense of grandeur, but doesn't quite work, no matter how good the songs are. Without focalizing on any individual track, the first half of the album, whilst enjoyable, is the lesser of the two. The songs are one great wall of sounds and musical details, with little space to breathe, which is probably the main mistake, tiring the listener a bit too early. Τhe second half of the album, however, finds the band in greater form, heavier than before, playful and relaxed on their instruments, fully inspired and making good use of gimmicks. Most of the good moments can be found here and the quality is shifted on higher highs. Ideas sound more concentrated, not just scattered around and it's a relief for an album boiling with ideas that can't be channeled properly. It's no surprise that the three most quality songs of the album are found on the second half:

''Once Upon a Nightmare'' already surpasses older Epica classics. The build-up is proficiently crafted, starting off with a sorrowful orchestral piece that slowly leads to the climax, the operatic vocals are superb and all instruments involved shine, with the solo violin stealing the show. Simone Simons proves she is the best lyricist of Epica. Her writing skills are far more poetic and natural than Mark's, showcasing better use of language and control of storytelling. Unfortunately, Mark is limited to self-righteous moralizing. It's true that his lyrics can be cringe-worthy one liners, trying to be revolutionary and help activate our third eye, but they're neither political nor deeply philosophic. His prose is stuck on the same matters that have been bothering him for the past seven years, lacking any depth that might have been there.

While the orchestra has always been a vital part of the band's sound, with ''Dancing in a Hurricane'' it comes to the forefront, the rest of the band appearing later on, on another excellent build up. The mid-eastern vibe is enhanced with the use of sitars and tribal drumming. Simone Simons is again the lyricist and the concept covers the current uprooting of thousands of Syrians, many of them children.

The third song that needs special commentary is of course the final one. Epica always leave the lengthier song for the end, a magnum opus to wrap up the album, which is also the title track. ''The Holographic Principle'' lifts the band to a whole new level. Unexpected, soulful intro with one of their most emotional guitar solos by Isaac Delahaye, playful instruments that present us with the catchiest instrumental parts they've ever written, nice build ups and well-thought transitions, this song is everything a fan could ask for and even more. Coen Janssen's work on the keyboards reigns throughout and transcends it, adding minor details and effects only when needed, indicative of how important he is to the band.

With this seventh release, Epica are well established as one of the best bands of the genre. Do they seem like a one-trick pony? Well, both yes and no would be acceptable, seeing that their current sound pays little resemblance to their debut album, The Phantom Agony. All similarities aside, the songs' mass is bigger, the guitar, bass and drums are heavier (i.e. ''Tear Down Your Walls''), more violins, more horns, more tricks and details, more, more, more, to the point where the present face of Epica seems like their former self on steroids. Studying the band's steps from day one, the Holographic Principle is a natural and expected evolution. While it doesn't sound rushed and definitely not boring, the band needs to find what made their earlier offerings important. Subtracting can be the solution sometimes. This is not a criticism, but rather a warning. They are as good as ever, bursting with ideas, but maybe the first signs of a tired formula have started to show. Honoring your past doesn't mean repeating it, but surpassing it. They have the potential, do they have the volition?

Rating: 3.7



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user ratings (107)
Chart.
3.7
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Mythodea
October 6th 2016


4147 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks to EvoHavok and danielcardoso for proofreading

Asdfp277
October 6th 2016


15318 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

uff so this is not lolbad, thank god! >:]

sam1oq
October 6th 2016


95 Comments


I love over-detailed and over-thought albums. Likewise, A Night at the Opera by Blind Guardian is also one of my favorite albums. Gonna check this out asap.

Toondude10
October 6th 2016


11391 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

damnit, you got to this before I did, good read though



definitely enjoyed this more that I thought I would. Phantasmic Parade and Divide and Conquer fucking slay.

Digging: August Burns Red - Phantom Anthem

EvoHavok
October 6th 2016


7167 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I did basically nothing, haha, but thank you! Enjoyable album and review for sure.

Digging: Ningen-Isu - Ijigen Kara no Hoko

Mythodea
October 6th 2016


4147 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

thanks anyway EvoHavok, now I can have the assurance that the review had the approval before it was posted.



@Toondude10 Phantasmic Parade is indeed really strong, but I would take Beyond the Matrix over Divide and Conquer anyday.

Toondude10
October 6th 2016


11391 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I thought Beyond The Matrix was the weakest track on here tbh

danielcardoso
Contributing Reviewer
October 6th 2016


11535 Comments


yea this reads really well now, pos from me.

Mythodea
October 6th 2016


4147 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks daniel, both for the pos and for the proofread. Haven't written anything in a year or so, so it's nice to be back on track.

theChickenCow
October 6th 2016


12 Comments


Nice review. After listening to the singles on yt, I wrote that album off. I simply can't stand the horrible lyrics. Furthermore, the compositions felt like pointless wall of sounds. I'll try to listen to your recommended tracks on Spotify.

P.S. You contrasted Simone and Mark as lyricists. Which songs are written by Simone? I bet that "Universal Death Squad" is not one of them.

Mythodea
October 6th 2016


4147 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Simone has written ''Edge of the Blade'' (lyrics), ''Phantasmic Parade'' (lyrics), ''Once Upon a Nightmare'' (lyrics, music co-written with Coen Janssen), ''Dancing in a Hurricane'' (lyrics, music co-written with Coen Janssen). The rest of the lyrics were written by Mark Jansen. Maybe he should take a break to fuel his inspiration.

theacademy
Staff Reviewer
October 6th 2016


30760 Comments


hmmm now im curious

Ocean of Noise
October 6th 2016


9728 Comments


Singles for this were kinda meh but these ratings have me intrigued. I've only checked Design Your Universe in full and it rules.

Digging: Thursday - Full Collapse

Asdfp277
October 6th 2016


15318 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

singles grew on me tbh

Mythodea
October 7th 2016


4147 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

From the singles I really only like the ending riff of Edge of the Blade. The rest is acceptable, yet basic.

teamster
October 8th 2016


1884 Comments


Band is ok. If need this over the top, bombastic, theatrical symphonic metal I listen to Leaves Eyes. Excellent review and thanks.

Digging: Coldrain - FATELESS

Mythodea
October 8th 2016


4147 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Leaves Eyes do not compare to Epica.

teamster
October 8th 2016


1884 Comments


What do u mean? They aren't the same kind of music ? Or the quality of the music?

Mythodea
October 8th 2016


4147 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

the quality. When I was too much into symphonic / gothic metal I listened to Leaves Eyes, but really couldn't like them.

Flugmorph
October 12th 2016


17232 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

This is so hard over the top. I can only swallow so much cheese goddamn.

And thats from a guy who basically grew up with symphonic metal.

Digging: Kauan - Kaiho



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