Epica - The Divine Conspiracy

1. Indigo
2. The Obsessive Devotion
3. Menace of Vanity
4. Chasing the Dragon
5. Never Enough
6. La’petach Chatat Rovetz – The Last Embrace
7. Death of a Dream – The Embrace that Smothers p. vi
8. Living a Lie – The Embrace that Smothers p. vii
9. Fools of Damnation – The Embrace that Smothers p. ix
10. Beyond Belief
11. Safeguard to Paradise
12. Sancta Terra
13. The Divine Conspiracy

Simone Simons (V)
Mark Jansen (G & V)
Ad Sluijter (G)
Coen Janssen (Sy & Pi)
Yves Huts (B)

The Score (2005)
Consign to Oblivion (2005)
The Phantom Agony (2003)

Recording info:
Produced by Sascha Paeth

Ariën van Weesenbeek (D)
Sander Gommans (V)

Nuclear Blast

The Dutches in Epica make their fourth release and they sound more mature than ever. Doubtless and without any argumentation, what can be heard is incredibly good, well written and well made music, just like on previous albums. High pitched soprano vocals is varied with dark and threatful growls and grunts, musically it’s heavy, epic, grandiose and mastodont – on the border to perfection. Overall the album is sportles, also seen to the single track it is so, but as a masterpiece as ‘The Divine Conspiracy’ is, it’s a very long one as well.

The cross references that can be made to their compatriots in After Forever may not be so suprisingly seen to the fact that guitarist Mark Janses makes a living there as well. Female vocalist Simone Simons is, however, not After Forevers’ Floor Jansen and regarding to the latest albums from them, slipping further and further from the epic, symphonic and grandiose music they played in the past, Epica feels – at least for me – more than motivated to make their act. Regarding the fact that they make this good music is hardly a handicap.

A long album, I mentioned – hell yeah! 13 tracks and more than 75 minutes of music, can’t say I feel it’s insufficient, but pherhaps a litle too much. I personally feel a little bit disapointed as the second song starts and this disapointment grows as the album spins on – why make such an incredibly wonderful opening track when they don’t follow this through the entire album? Honestly – I’m in morose. As the first track plays, I’m in trance, it’s so grandiose, so mighty, powerful, breathtaking and incredibly wonderful, but as the second song starts – it’s all gone. The first one is missed, at least by me, throughout the entire album. With that said, I’d like to point out that the rest of the album isn’t bad in any way – oh no! It’s a fabuloss album, wunderbaar in every way – but the first track … ooh, if only the album sounded like that entierly, or at least half way through, then maybe they might have another star!

Most of the songs are grand, epic works with chorus and enitre symphony orchestras. Above that is Simone Simons beautyful sopranoich song (not fully a soprano, but close enough) and by and by is Mark Jansens dark growling, giving the music a completely different character. Clueless of what they sing about, my guess anyway is that it’s some kind of opera (ich) thing – w.o.w. they tries to tella story of some kind, which might be the explaination to why Jansen is growling where he does and why it sounds like it does – a tad different and separating from the rest of the music.

I get a little bit stuck on the fifth song, Never Enough, which isn’t fully as “magnificent” as the rest … and then of course the introduction. Yet, it’s suprisingly well varied and miscancellus in the content. Not that the rest is dull or in any way kind of grey, but these two are in a class of their own.

Another thing that strikes me is that the band lacks of a drummer, which feels kinda odd, considering how much drums and percussions that’s in the music, not to mention the fact that the drumming is also very good on this album. The drums are very much in the background, very anonymus and doesn’t make any unnecassary reminders of it self, but that’s what’s so good abut it! Instruments shouldn’t make a one instrument show, but contribute to the music as a whole, and that’s exatcly what the drums do.

Overall it’s easy to say that Epica makes a masterpiece! Grandiose, beautyful, appealing in every way. Though, maybe a couple of songs too long and phehaps a bit to monotone – yet: well worthy your money – especially if you’re a fan of the grandose!

Official website
Label - Nuclear Blast
Three similar bands - After Forever/Tristania/Theatre of Tragedy
Reviewer: Caj Källmalm, Daniel Källmalm