EPICA

"We Will Take You With Us / 2 Meter Sessies (The End; 2005 )

Reviewed by Ray Van Horn Jr.

I'll start off by saying that Simone Simons is my new favorite redhead behind my wife and Tori Amos...

Metal has come a long way since the eighties; a long way. If you lived the original metal movement, honestly, did it ever occur to you that metal was durable enough to sustain colossal orchestral sweepings and textured choral supplementation? Not in our one-dimensional, thrash-obsessed minds! This week a number of prog, power and orchestral metal releases crossed my desk such as Circus Maximus, Redemption, Stratovarius, Dungeon, Domain and this CD companion to a DVD of the same title by the Netherlands' Epica. From what I can gather, there is a Danish TV show called "2 Meter Sessies" and this project from Epica pits them on this program in Therion fashion, complete with orchestral and choral accompaniment. 

Frankly, this musical coupling has been done quite extensively lately and there is inevitably going to be a breaking point. The cosmic neoclassical speed of Dol Ammad notwithstanding, it's going to take some pretty hefty songwriting to outdo what's already been accomplished the past two years in this lavish stylization of metal. Still, to give Epica its due credit, "We Will Take You With Us" is on-par with most of their peers, mostly due to the sweet siren vocals of Simone Simons. Tarja Turunen of Nightwish may consider Simons a bona fide peer now, as Simons' hypnotic soprano voice is the guiding light that energizes Epica in dramatic fashion. Without her, Epica might very well be a one-of-the norm of its ilk instead of an exciting unit that deserves a few paragraphs of merit. 

Our post 9/11 society has a devolved from a broader-based incongruity the more it subdivides itself following the slackjawed re-election of George W. Bush. Despite the division lines, a sympathetic and incensed world is still as sensitive of the tragedy of that somber date as Americans are, and it's reflected on "We Will Take You With Us," particularly on "Façade of Reality (The Embrace That Smothers - Part V)." This opening track is a lengthy foray into the sad and brutal times the world has endured since the terrorist attacks of that nefarious day. It is a metal epic, tried and true, and it poignantly reflects the societal decline in light of so dastardly an act.

Throughout "We Will Take You With Us," Epica utilizes its neoclassical fortifications and it allows Simone Simons to helm the massive compositions with only a few unnecessary grunts and growls extolled from guitarist Mark Jansen. For a long time on the album, Epica's music is grandiose and richly layered, which will appease those metal fans seeking a higher standard. The three acoustic tracks at the end, including an out-of-nowhere but pleasing cover of "Memories" may slow the tempo of "We Will Take You With Us" a bit too long, yet they are beautifully handled by Simons you can't help but give them your attention.

While there may be better bands utilizing Epica's formula, they have a lethal weapon with Simone Simons and they have enough bravado and technical wherewithal to garnish themselves some curious attention.


Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright © 2005 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 14 May 2017 12:40:08 -0400.