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Epica: 'The Solace System'
Out Now (Nuclear Blast)

7th September 2017

ian sutherland
Words and Pictures: Ian Sutherland


Dutch symphonic Metallers Epica have been a band on the rise for some time now and show no signs of stopping.

As befits a group of musicians who have hit upon the right line-up at the right time their creativity seems boundless and 2014s 'The Quantum Enigma' was one of their best ever albums with quality right through it's seventy-five minute length.

The excellent song writing extended to five songs being recorded which didn't make the album and appeared on various singles and as bonus tracks in some territories. All these songs were very good too and it sparked much debate among their fan base as to whether such a strategy encouraged fans to illegally download songs rather than buy multiple copies of the album to get hold of them all.

Fast forward to 2016 and the release of another excellent Epica album in 'The Holographic Principle', again an album that pushed the single CD format to its limits content wise. This time wiser heads have prevailed and the six songs they recorded which didn't make that album have been packaged into one EP, though at thirty minutes you could describe 'The Solace System' as a mini album in its own right.

You would think that with a band as prolific song wise as Epica are these days that there must surely be a drop off in quality when eighteen songs are written and recorded for an album. I thought that 'The Holographic Principle' wasn't quite up to the level of its predecessor while still being very good indeed. The six songs here are easily good enough to fit nicely on that album though and one or two may have even improved it.

From the opening title track all the typical Epican elements are there. The brutal guitar riffs and pounding yet imaginative drums. the shimmering soprano vocals, choirs and occasional grunts, the complex arrangements and spread throughout the songs some very clever hook lines and melodies which allow such complicated work to really find a way in to your mind and become memorable.

This really is an Epica album in miniature with songs like the frantic 'Fight Your Demons', the sweet balladry of 'Immortal Melancholy' and the power and majesty of 'Decoded Poetry' showing all the facets that make this unique band the rising force they are. Simply put, if you like Epica, you'll like this EP and will need to get it as I'm sure a couple of these tunes will become live favourites soon.

If you haven't come across Epica yet this would be as good a way in as any. It's always great to hear a band performing at the peak of their powers and there's plenty of that here.

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Check out more of Ian Sutherland right here.

judas priest


monsters of rock

Monsters Of Rock In Full Flight is strictly limited to 300 worldwide and is available from 30th November but those ordering before 31st October will have their name published within a dedicated page in the book.

It's a deluxe 128 page hardback book in a metal flight case with a narrative by Jerry Bloom.

When promoter Paul Loasby put on the first Monsters Of Rock Festival in 1980 he could probably never have imagined it would become an annual event that would endure for so many years.

Featuring bands from the UK, Germany, Canada and USA, Loasby chose to stage the event at the Donington race circuit in the middle of England and it would prove to be a defining moment for many of the bands on the bill.

Not least for headliners Rainbow as it was the their last ever show to feature drum legend Cozy Powell. As it would happen it turned out to be the last for vocalist Graham Bonnet as well. For many of the other bands on the bill such as Scorpions, Judas Priest and Saxon, they were all on the ascendancy and would soon go on to even greater success.

Now in celebration of this first ever Monsters Of Rock Festival comes this hardback book full of glorious photos of the bands that took to the stage for that inaugural event including back stage shots. Most of these shots have not been published before which add to the uniqueness of this deluxe 128-page book which is packaged in its own flight case.

Also included are stories surrounding the event with tales and recollections from those who were there, including artists and fans alike. Each book will be signed by the author. The 300 will sell fast and definitely go on to become collector's items so order yours now right here to avoid disappointment.


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