Monumental isn’t even a word strong enough to describe the new EPICA offering ‘Omega’, the first collection of all-new material in five long years. On their eighth full-length, the Dutch symphonic metal titans go all cinemascope, in a stunt both effortlessly and cunningly unleashing their biggest, grandest, flashiest opus yet.
Mind you, that’s not lightly said for a band like EPICA. Formed by composer Mark Jansen after leaving After Forever back in 2002, they quickly gained attention outside their home country, taking big steps towards becoming the leading symphonic metal superpower they have long proven to be. After their ambitious debut ‘The Phantom Agony’ (2002) and the surprisingly eclectic sophomore work ‘Consign To Oblivion’ (2005), the road took them to new heights via their first concept masterpiece ‘The Divine Conspiracy’ (2007) and their global breakthrough ‘Design Your Universe’ (2009). However, especially 2012’s opus ‘Requiem For The Indifferent’, 2014’s bedazzling ‘The Quantum Enigma’ and their finest, most embellished effort yet, ‘The Holographic Principle’ (2016), cemented their reputation as not only one of the hardest working metal bands in the business but also as one of the best. Period. With ‘Omega’, the final part of the metaphysical trilogy they began with ‘The Quantum Enigma’, they reclaim the throne without so much as the blink of an eye.
On their past seven records so far, they soared from gothic undertones to a broad, epic and triumphant amalgamation of all things monolithic, establishing their unique brand of Simone Simons’ unparalleled vocal excellence with a band both ready to tear down venues around the globe while at the same time installing orchestral splendour, progressive elegance, oriental enchantment, cinematic soundscapes and colossal fury into their trailblazing bombshell sound.
‘Omega’ is an album of unity, of friendship, of the close bond the members share. An album that naturally came together as a group effort. And no wonder: Mark Jansen, Simone Simons and keyboard player Coen Janssen have been playing together since EPICA’s conception in 2002, with drummer Ariën van Weesenbeek joining as early as 2007, lead guitarist Isaac Delahaye following in 2009. In 2012, bass player Rob van der Loo marked the latest addition to their ranks. For eight years, three records and hundreds of gigs, this band forms an indestructible unit. Add to that the fact that ‘Omega’ is once again graced by a stunning artwork courtesy of Heilemania who has been working with the band since ‘The Classical Conspiracy’ and also the third record the Dutch trailblazers have recorded with producer and close friend Joost van den Broek and you get the picture of a band who couldn’t be happier with the place they’re in right now. A band in which each member is contributing an important share to song writing and composing. “Joost has the overview, never loses track and nor misses a single deadline,” Mark Jansen tells of his old friend he’s been hanging out with since the days of even before After Forever. “His sense of timing is impeccable and almost a little spooky. We’ve never been better organised than with him.” As a result, Joost van den Broek not only steered the recording process of »Omega« but for the first time also took over mixing duties.
In the middle of a world in turmoil, of a cataclysmic change in society, EPICA somehow managed to create their most spectacular album yet. An album that is seamlessly bringing together metal and orchestra, choir and oriental instruments to a perfect storm constantly emitting goose bumps. A record with a specifically written suites for orchestra and choir, featuring a wide range of ethnic instruments recorded around the world by some of the best native musicians out there. In short: They outdid themselves. Once again. And still managed to keep the songs approachable and wickedly catchy. “More than ever before, we had the live shows before our eyes,” says Mark. “We wanted to write huge, catchy and melodic songs that work well in a crowd environment without altogether obliterating the larger-than-life epic anthems.”
Of course, he’s especially hinting at the third part of the epic ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ saga – ‘The Antediluvian Universe’ –, clocking in at over 13 minutes. It’s easily the most ambitious, most monumental, most touching song EPICA have ever written. And it comes with a backstory, of course. “’The Kingdom of Heaven’ saga is slowly getting creepy,” Jansen muses. “When I wrote the first part, my grandmother passed away and I dedicated the song to her memory. I wrote the third part together with Isaac and this time around, his and my remaining grandma died. Within one week.” That there’s going on more between heaven and earth than we care to admit is also the central nucleus of the trilogy’s grande finale – the so-called omega point. From ‘Abyss Of Time’, a storming song via the eerie ‘The Skeleton Key’ and the oriental charm that is ‘The Seal Of Solomon’ to the ultimate battle cry ‘Freedom – The Wolves Within’ and the overwhelming sadness residing within the heartbreakingly beautiful ‘Rivers’, ‘Omega’ displays everything EPICA has to offer. And, quite astoundingly, even more.
- Alpha – Anteludium
- Abyss Of Time – Countdown To Singularity
- The Skeleton Key
- Seal Of Soloman
- Code Of Life
- Freedom – The Wolves Within
- Kingdom Of Heaven Part 3 – The Antediluvian Universe
- Synergize – Manic Manifest
- Twilight Reverie – The Hypnagogic State
- Omega – Sovereign Of The Sun Spheres
- Rivers – Acapella
- Abyss O’Time
- El Codigo Vital