Label: Nuclear Blast
Release Date: March 13, 2012
Epica’s new album – Requiem for the Indifferent, packs a punch. It’s their fifth studio album, and when it comes to electrifying guitars, thunderous drums, and symphonic sounds and structure, you can expect nothing less from Epica. Simone Simons’ vocals are incredible as ever on this record with an impressive reach of high notes, and guitarist/vocalist Mark Jansen still growls like a lion. The album is inspired by modern day factors like tension between different religions and cultures, wars, natural disasters and financial crisis. The lyrics are incredibly well done. Right from their first record, I always felt Epica has the ability to become a beautiful flower in the future. The previous album Design The Universe was the peak point of Epica. Here is a sneak peak to the latest album:
The first track of the album is the instrumental intro, “Karma”. Lots of gothic elements involved in this track along with some opera style choir. “Monopoly of Truth”, the second track of the album is a continuation of “Karma”. In one word, it’s the best display of clean female vocals and harsh male vocals in modern times, beauty and the beast at its very best. I felt a kind of musical chemistry between the growls and clean vocals that left me wanting for more.
The next track on the record is the debut single, “Storm the Sorrow”. A darker song that has clean vocals towards the beginning and in the chorus. The best part of the song is around 3:50, where Simone shows her vocal prowess with brilliant rhythm lines to back her vocals. The fourth song of the album, “Delirium” is by far the best. It sounds like it’s coming from a different musical strata and it takes the listener deeper into the calmness and serenity of one’s own mind. It’s surely a master class piano composition and some real genius arrangements. The drums could have been excluded though.
I was eagerly waiting to hear the “title” track of the album, “Requiem for the Indifferent”. This is one of the best tracks Epica have produced in their musical history, starting from the ethnic style intro with some classical eastern vocals and instruments used, to the unique fantasy-like lyrics. The guitars were panned to perfection. At 5:50 into the song most will jizz in their pants, some genius musicianship on display with no distortion, calmness personified, and then the transition to growls and distortion. Though the song may have been stretched a little longer than it should have been and Coen Janssen’s keyboards were overshadowed by the guitars in many parts, one cannot deny the fact that the song lived up to its expectation.
Coming to two heavier songs in the list – “Internal Warfare” and “Guilty Demeanor”: “Internal Warfare” has a fast paced intro. The delivery of the lyrics is dark and the chorus is certainly different from the other songs. The alternate picking and growls pick up the tempo for a short burst of time. This track has a more aggressive guitar and keyboard solo. “Guilty Demeanor” on the other hand is the first song of the album that I can tag as boring. It has a heavy intro but loses the spark somewhere in between. Though it is a short song, it doesn’t live up to the standards created by its predecessors.
“Deep Water Horizon” falls a little weak in the arrangement after a certain point in the song, with too many things being tried at the same time. “Stay The Course” on the other side, is an average track with a few notable points like the fast paced riff with high pitched growls and two parts of the song where Simone again shows what her voice can do with nothing but just a keyboard track in the backing. Both are comparatively brighter songs in the album.
“Deter The Tyrant” and “Avalanche”, are both very interesting compositions. While the intro to “Deter the Tyrant” reminds one of John Petrucci’s intro in the song, “Glasgow Kiss” (not a copy, but almost similar tempo and arpeggios), the song itself is very catchy. The growls with a sort of Arabian influenced riff in the background add a uniqueness to the song. “Avalanche” has a more ambient feel to it. The lines, “Feels like living a dream, from which I cannot wake — Voices leaving me astray” are repeated throughout the song. The sadness here is heartfelt. The growls pick up the tempo but returns to normal tempo during the clean vocals. Use of tapping for the first time in the album on the guitars, and the Morse code message was perfectly executed.
The album ends with the track, “Serenade of Self-Destruction”. Another classic piano intro, the song soon picks up pace with a lot of blast-beats going on in the background. Except for these two factors, the song is rather boring, and too long, stretching to 9:53. They try to convince the listener of their extreme existentialism in any way they can but at the same time they deliver sickly sweet melodies vocally (and sometimes on the guitar, or in the orchestra).
Epica proves to be one of the best theme composers with this album again; it’s just a feast. The form of the music is not always European; the mystical atmosphere of the Eastern world also plays a role in some parts. The layout of songs, where to boil up, where to calm down, or where to get into a new variation, are all adjusted perfectly. Maybe that’s the reason why almost every second of the album is delightful.
Isaac Delahaye creates some amazing guitar work on Requiem for the Indifferent and the rhythm section of bassist Yves Huts and drummer Ariën van Weesenbeek have the dynamic ability to swing from understated to bombastic without losing anything. Female vocals are often a make-or-break aspect of modern power metal and symphonic metal bands and Simone Simons puts in yet another jaw-dropping performance. She is definitely a serious talent. Unlike other divas, Simone is able to wander between poppy sounding smooth vocals and operatics, delivering her parts with a sincerity and force that few other singers can muster. Mark Jansen’s beastly grunts sound phenomenal while tempos shift between the cinematic texture of the orchestra and unadulterated metal punctuation.
Every track on this album is heavily orchestrated, bombastic and saturated with huge choirs and vocals. To sum it all up, the new album is a treat for the hardcore Epica fans; it has the band sticking to what they are known to do best, along with it trying something different as in the track “Requiem for the Indifferent”. The two instrumental tracks, “Karma” and “Anima” are very ambient symphonic pieces. The band is getting better with each album and hopefully will continue the momentum into their next venture.