Review: Epica – The Holographic Principle (EN)
There seems to be no end to the rising star of Epica. A small summer pause is almost to an end and after a three year long world tour the band is charged again and ready to go! That is of course because the Holographic Principle is released on the 30th of september.
The next day their release show is planned: their own festival Epic Metal Fest. It would be difficult to make a bigger party of it than it already is, with bands such as Stream of Passion, MaYaN, Textures and Katatonia. A jam-packed 013 (Tilburg) will house almost 3000 metal fans, many of whom whill be there for the new Epica show. The pre-sale for this show has started and the album is also available for pre-order. But Epica wouldn’t be Epica if they didn’t have something special as well. The cd-bundle with a hologram for your phone is a nice goodie, but for the real fans with some extra savings there is a very unique item: an action figure set, complete with stage. It can’t get much crazier than that (available via this link in two different sizes). With the release of the last album, a dream came true for Mark, because the band released their own cycling tenues. They are also available this year, with new THP prints of course. These will be available from september 1st.
The album starts with, what else, an intro. It’s an ideal little number called Eidola. Coen and Mark know how to set the right mood and they also know how to build up the feeling of the album. The band makes a risky jump forward on this album, because now every instrument, detail and sound is recorded live. This is palpable from the very first moment. ‘Edge of Blade’ starts with a bang when Ariën deals out his first hits and when his batteries are activated they won’t turn off again. It shows that Epica has the guts to show a louder side of themselves again, back to Design Your Universe! (Nice choice!).“A Phantasmic Parade” is a good example of this as well. When the first notes sound through the speakers it is instantly recognizable as an Epica-track, but with a little bit extra. This is not just because of the choir, that plays a great part in the track, but also because the whole band displays more strength than ever before. Simone sings better than ever as well and with her expanding range she is invaluable within the whole. The ‘solo’ part for the guitars is full of exquisite details and when Mark adds his grunts it is sturdy metal all around. Ariën’s work is very pronounced throughout this track and his rhythm and diversity are like no other. The Beast does what he does best on this album and it is time that the drumming world starts to recognize him for his work.
*Epica just released this new video!*
“Universal Death Squad” is the first track heard by the public. The firm sound is very present here already, so that no one will be surprised when the album is released. In this song all the guitars, bass and drums are flogged so that it is one of the most energetic tracks on the album. A lyric video was made for this as well, which made it visually attractive too. The lyrics in the video weren’t even that neccesary, beause it is also a nice live video, that shows the band in a small setting where they don’t need big video productions. The music is the focus point, as it should be. The firm guitarwork will have been a pain in the ass for Mark, because Isaac didn’t hold back on this track. He may even have pushed himself to the limit, which could have been extra motivation for both to make it perfect. And they did, but the best riff of the record is still to come.
Time for a personal favorite: “Divide and Conquer”. It stands out beautifully in every respect. It is like a very well cut diamond, it shines from every angle.Whether it is Simone’s gorgeous voice, interchanged with strong grunts by Mark, the deep sounds of Coen’s piano,
the choir forming a union with the frontwoman,the rhythmic drums, two guitars pushing each other to unknown heights in a kind of battle, Rob’s bass keeping it all together or the unique way that band and producer always know how to add strings to the whole without overdoing it. The song is briljant.
“Beyond the Matrix” opens with a choir and a nice drum rhythm which leads into a nice headbanging track. Yes, sometimes less complicated is complicated enough. The song is very suitable for newcomers. It’s easy to clap, headbang and sing to if you just follow Rob. However, one of the best bits is still to come, because after about 3 and a half minutes there is a solo of Simone that strikes deep in the heart. For a moment everything stops and there is nothing to do but to feel the beauty.
-Nothing for a moment-
And on, because no one but Coen could have written “Once Upon a Nightmare”. His genius has managed to create freedom in these seven minutes that takes you to higher ground. The changes between the small, intimate setting and the band at full speed move seemlessly. It seems like a ballad at first, but that is not the case after all. A deep bow for this man.It’s time for another song to move a long to “The Cosmic Algorithm”. It’s a track that doesn’t stand out because of its predecessor, but also because of the track after. It’s a nice track, but will probably be best live. After this starts “Ascension – Dream State Armageddon” and only the name will tell you it will be fierce. It is a real Epica track. It showcases the growth of the band in only five minutes with all the elements you have come to expect.
The track flows effortlessly into “Dancing in a Hurricane”. The track is edgy, and that is a credit to the band, because not all bands dare to go this way, whereas Epica has been exploring this side for a while now. The addition of the extra live musicians has been a great move, but it would be even greater to bring them on tour! It would be a great extra to the live show. The experience while listening to The Holographic Principle is unique and it could be the same on stage.
You are sensing that the end is near, and it is on the regular album, but on the Deluxe edition and on the Apple Music/iTunes version there are some acoustic tracks as well.“Tear Down Your Walls” is like “The Cosmic Algorithm” a typical Epica track. They are well placed as a stepping stone to the ending. The ending itself is, like on every album the band has made, a masterpiece. They don’t need 25 minutes to make it Epic, but only a good twelve minutes will do for them. Everything we’ve learned: the added live instruments, the strong choir and the basic Epica elements melt together in this epos. Everyone gets their moment to shine, but one moment is exceptional. After about seven minutes there is a radical change and it is time for a moshpit. Normally that is during Consign to Oblivion but this track will add another to the live experience, because it is really brutal. This moment on The Holographic Principle is typical for where the band is now. The loud sounds create an energy that will give CERN a run for its money.
Epica is not just a regular band anymore, they haven’t been for years really, but with The Holographic Principle they push the boundaries even further. A boundary that is already out of reach for many artists, but seems even more impossible now. Epica is lord and master in this, and all other universes, with and without hologram. With a lot of thanks to Sandlane Recording Facilities and Joost van den Broek for the amazing production, without him it wouldn’t have sounded like this!
The Holographic Principle is available from the 30th of september via the webshop of the band in many different editions. You can order it on CD or Vinyl, but it is also available for pre-order on iTunes/Apple Music.