It is always good to see hard work being rewarded and Dutch symphonic Metallers Epica have paid their dues and then some. Over their career they have toured and written and toured and honed their craft and toured and gone through line up changes and toured and toured some more!
The result has been that they are now in the forefront of any discussion on symphonic Metal and have set their own unique stamp on the genre.
Epica – Ωmega (Nuclear Blast)
Release Date: 26 February 2021
Words: Ian Sutherland
‘Omega’ is their eighth studio album to date and knowing the band as I do, I am sure there is some significance to using the last letter of the Greek alphabet and a word that can mean the end of a series, or someone who has opted out, or given up, for a title.
One thing Epica do not lack is depth, musically and lyrically and this album is no different on that front.
Epica do what they do, play complex, uncompromising symphonic Metal with some death Metal leanings balanced out by choral melodies and the shimmering soprano vocals of Simone Simons.
‘Omega’ has all that I have come to expect from Epica. Superb musicianship, terrific vocals, great songwriting and a production by Joost van den Broek that manages to balance all the disparate elements beautifully.
The other element that has come to symbolise Epica is here too – there is a LOT to take in! It is not just that the songs are complex and full of deft touches you pick up on repeated listenings.
‘Omega’ is seventy minutes long, which is an average length for this bands albums these days. I will guarantee that there will be other good songs which did not make the album soon to appear as B-sides and so on too.
This is a hell of a creative band! All six members contribute to the songwriting and they may be the only Metal band in existence where a CD is too small to contain the whole album. So, I personally find that Epica albums take me a bit of time to fully appreciate.
This time around the early highlights include the careful juxtaposition of the male and female vocals on ‘Abyss Of Time-Countdown To Singularity’, the eastern edges on ‘The Seal Of Solomon’ which work as well as those influences always seem to do on Epica tunes and the gradual build in the lush tones of ‘Rivers’.
There are also more eastern nods in the epically memorable ‘Code Of Life’, the staccato rhythmic thrusts of the beautifully constructed ‘The Skeleton Key’ and the third instalment in the ‘Kingdom Of Heaven’ series of songs, ‘The Antidiluvian Universe’ may be the best yet, thirteen minutes of majestic and intruiging Metal.
Some may blanche at Epica’s kitchen sink approach to making Metal. Nothing is left behind. All their ideas and creative thinking get thrown into their music and that can be overwhelming for some.
However it also results in a fascination and appreciation of the talent involved and has meant that their style on albums, along with their live performances, has earned them a large and loyal following world wide.
I will be playing this album for a long time to come, which is the real test of how good they are these days.
For Epica live dates, see here.