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Excellence. Power. Intelligence. Creativity. Ambition.
The world of symphonic metal is all about big ideas and high standards, but few bands have taken this most bombastic of genres to such momentous creative heights as EPICA. Formed in the Netherlands in 2002, these perennially dynamic masters of sonic opulence swiftly grabbed the world’s attention with their 2003 debut album »The Phantom Agony«. With a fresh and vital sound that struck a sublime balance between orchestral grandeur and pure heavy metal grit, EPICA’s music showcased the compelling contrast between singer Simone Simons’ soaring vocals and guitarist Mark Jansen’s guttural growls; between Isaac Delahaye’s unstoppable core of scything riffs and keyboard maestro Coen Janssen’s intricate, hugely cinematic arrangements and embellishments. All of this backed by a powerful tandem: Ariën van Weesenbeek blasting his drums and Rob van der Loo providing tasteful low end.
The lyrics, too, made EPICA stand out from the crowd, as they eschewed the traditional symphonic trope of fantasy and began to explore and dissect notions of philosophy, science and spirituality. By the time they released 2005’s grand evolutionary step »Consign To Oblivion«, the Dutch sextet were widely regarded as the genre’s brightest hopes and international success was in their grasp.
The decade that followed has seen EPICA grow from plucky contenders to their current status as symphonic metal heavyweights with a huge and still expanding worldwide following. With each successive album, the band have made huge creative progress while consistently delivering stage shows and performances of overwhelming power and grandiloquence. From 2007’s dark religious exploration »The Divine Conspiracy« over 2009’s intense musical journey »Design Your Universe« to 2012’s impassioned and political »Requiem For The Indifferent« and on to the brave curiosity and breathtaking depth of last album, 2014’s »The Quantum Enigma«, their upward ascent has been both commercial and artistic: a testament to many years of hard work, fierce determination and the relentless pursuit of musical dreams. And now it’s 2016 and EPICA are poised to unveil their greatest masterwork to date. Their seventh full-length studio effort »The Holographic Principle« signifies a significant upping of the musical ante for this most adventurous of modern bands.
“This time we decided that our goal was simply to exceed »The Quantum Enigma«,” states Coen Janssen. “We wanted to the best album we possibly could and to evolve as a band on certain specific levels. One of the first things we talked about was to use as many real instruments as possible, in contrast to the previous album. We invested a lot of time to be able to write and work on the songs, and this time around we recorded real brass, strings, woodwinds, ethnic instruments and percussion, to make it sound more alive and to really dive into what we think is the ultimate EPICA sound.”
“You always need to keep refreshing and challenging yourself,” adds Mark Jansen. “And then you just don’t repeat yourself. The new album is the result of maximum dedication and is all about making it sound real, direct and pure.”
Recorded once again with esteemed producer Joost van den Broek at the controls, »The Holographic Principle« represents the most impressive and powerful expression of EPICA’s boldly inventive sound yet. One listen to thunderous new songs like 'Edge Of The Blade' and 'Universal Death Squad' will confirm that »The Holographic Principle« is EPICA’s heaviest album to date. Meanwhile, the shimmering soundscapes and multi-layered melodrama of 'Once Upon A Nightmare' and the towering 11-minute title track confirm that »The Holographic Principle« is also the band’s most musically extravagant and daring release so far. With lashings of sumptuous orchestration and a never-ending stream of ingenious but brutal metal riffs and propulsive rhythms underpinning the whole explosive enterprise, this is an album that raises the bar for the entire symphonic metal genre.
“With every album we tend to get heavier and that definitely goes for the new album,” Isaac explanes. “You can find lots of interesting guitar riffing, accentuating the fact we are a metal band in the first place. I for sure had to be on top of my game during this whole process!”
And once again, EPICA’s lyrics ensure that the album is also absorbing on an emotional and intellectual level, as the band return to the endpoint of »The Quantum Enigma« and set off on another voyage of scientific discovery.
“I was fascinated by the concept of virtual reality,” Mark explains. “Nowadays you can put on a virtual reality mask and you’ll find yourself in a different world. It’s not perfect yet but in a few years the techniques will be so good that you won’t be able to tell if it’s our ‘real’ or the virtual reality world. At that point, people might realize that the world we’re living in now is perhaps also a virtual reality of a higher reality.”
“So here we proceed from where we left off with »The Quantum Enigma«, on the search for what is real,” Simone notes. “Is this world a hologram? Are there multiple realities? Inside our mind and in our dreams we can create entire worlds, and the parallels with virtual reality are obvious. Besides the music, the lyrics have taken a big role as well. We don’t just offer great songs, we offer food for thought!”
As an expectant fan base gears up to immerse itself in »The Holographic Principle«, EPICA are relishing the chance to further extend their renown and influence around the world. 14 years on from their humble beginnings, this band have risen steadily from obscurity to the upper echelons of the metal world, and this latest chapter in their fantastic journey is surely destined to elevate them even higher.
“There are always new people from all ages and different musical backgrounds coming to see us, so that means we have a future!,” laughs Mark. “We’re not just reaching the traditional metal fans but also the new generation and that’s a very good sign.”
“We’re getting the fans who love symphonic metal, but we’re also getting a lot of recognition from people who like other styles of metal,” says Rob. “Every metalhead out there can find something in our music, especially with »The Holographic Principle«. It has groove, modern thrashy rhythms, death/black/melodic metal influences, the whole lot!”
“We have fans aged from 7 to 70 and that’s really cool,” Ariën concludes. “We’re a symphonic metal band so we also attract a lot of people that love classical music too! It’s very appealing to all ages. The music of EPICA has no age limit.”
EPICA will officially launch »The Holographic Principle« at two special shows at their own Epic Metal Fest in the Netherlands and Brazil on October 1st and 15th respectively. Released on September 30, the new album will then take the band around the world once more. Even as they question the very fibre of our reality with their extraordinary new album, EPICA are ensuring that their own reality will be a glorious and unforgettable one.
“We consider ourselves very lucky to be able to do this for a living and to live the dream we all work hard for. However, our main goal still is to have fun and project that fun onto the audience so they keep enjoying what we do. And after that, universal domination!,” laughs Simone. “Let’s all take over this hologram!”
Dom Lawson, June 2016
Liste des titres
02. Edge Of The Blade
03. A Phantasmic Parade
04. Universal Death Squad
01. Divide And Conquer
02. Beyond The Matrix
03. Once Upon Nightmare
01. The Cosmic Algorithm
02. Ascension – Dream State Armageddon
03. Dancing In A Hurricane
01. Tear Down Your Walls
02. The Holographic Principle – A Profound Understanding Of Reality
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