1. The Solace System
2. Fight Your Demons
3. Architect Of Light
4. Wheel Of Destiny
5. Immortal Melancholy
6. Decoded Poetry
With four Bachelors in music and one Master in Philosophy Epica where never going to be another run of the mill Metal band. It does seem that this, their eighth release sees them still full of ideas.
The title track sets the pace for the rest of the album, mach five from the first note. Symphonic Power Metal has never been so apt a description of Epicas music, the music really is symphonic, a bombastic sound but one that isn’t jarring. Mind numbingly fast guitar playing layered with breakneck drumming and an orchestral backing. Fight your demons if anything raises the tempo, the double vocal works particularly well on this track, reminding me of Beauty and the beast. Simone Simons obviously the Beauty with her beautiful voice, perfectly suited to this style of music, strong but not overpowering with the beast being provided by Mark Jansen who delivers in a deep gruff, Napalm Death type growl.
Architect of Light follows in the same vein as the first two tracks and unfortunately for me is slightly formulaic and feels like they are going through the motions, many bands would get away with this but it just washes over me as it’s too similar to the previous tracks. Wheel of Destiny however sees a shift in style and grabs the listeners attention, it’s a lot more guitar led, opening as it does with a killer riff and break neck drumming, we are led into the song, the vocals held back for a while. When the vocals start they feel different, fresh. Marks vocals move up a notch and lend more to the song than just a distraction. The song “chugs” along but in a good way if that makes sense. Guitar solos are alive and well on this track. More bands should have them!
Immortal Melancholy slows the whole thing down, almost flamenco guitar opening, Simone showing she can do gentle as well, it’s almost medieval in it’s style and simplicity. The track has been well placed in the listing as it gives the listener a well deserved rest from the onslaught of symphonic power. It’s like a deep breath in ready for: Decoded Poetry. Once again it’s the guitar and drums that take centre stage for the final track, sadly for me it feels more of the same. The almost choral part of the song doesn’t do enough to single it out from the other songs.
I might be doing Epica a great disservice but The Solace System just doesn’t live up to it’s opening track, and I so wanted it to. By the end they are throwing everything at you, living up to the metal clichés that I hoped they would avoid. If you like Symphonic Power Metal there is a lot to like about this release, It occasionally reminds me of Rammstein and Metallica although it sounds like neither.
Website - epica.nl
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/epica/
Review - Andrew Forcer