Two years after leaving the contest yet beautiful The Divine Conspiracy, Epica, who meanwhile had chained relentless touring and release (the live The Classical Conspiracy, recorded with an orchestra and it was warmly received), we offers its fourth installment.
For the previous album, training Batavian had caught everyone unprepared by turning resolutely charming heavy and very catchy Gothic from its beginnings to open the door to new influences, most extreme and elaborate, and clambering to the heights unexpected, and leaving the sidekick far, far behind him. In 2009, Epica is more mature and confident than ever. And despite the last minute arrival of a new guitar just before entering the studio (Isaac Delahaye, who like Van Weesenbeek Ariën drummer, comes from the extreme stage and was part of God Dethroned), it is ready to confirm the best way possible its complex and incisive new direction.
Milestone in the evolution of Epica, each change of line-up is deeply felt in the music group. Although Mark is still the main composer, since the brains behind the riffs to the lines of singing through the complex orchestrations, he leaves it to each newcomer's field of expression. As we discovered on tracks like "Chasing the Dragon" and "The Obsessive Devotion" What was amazing drummer Ariën two years ago, and we marvel now at Design Your Universe to discover so many wonderful solos and ... riffs!
Because yes, my friends, is what makes this new album one of the most exciting releases of the year! Tranchant severely with the approach of bands like Within Temptation which are using more guitars as a means to support their pompous orchestrations, Epica chooses instead to slip a real creativity and highlight the rhythmic as ever he didn ' had done before. Thus, the opening "Resign to Surrender", preceded by the beautiful introduction "Samadhi", where choruses sublime stand on dark moods and less epic than before, is simply excellent. The whirlwind start with the chorus and the rhythm does not surprise too much, but that leaves us speechless, is the arrival of Mark's vocals backed by a heavy riff, modern and efficient as you had never Epica heard from before! And the song, the structure particularly difficult to understand, to end with a beautiful solo in the purest tradition of heavy metal, and leave us dumbfounded by so many about and good taste!
In fact, Design Your Universe is not even a return to roots - because Epica has never betrayed - is a step towards the creation, experimentation, integrity. The surprise attack by the brilliant opening renews itself on the excellent "Martyr of the free word", one of the best titles on the disc, where Simone brilliantly adopts a serious tone, sensual and mysterious that we do he knew not. This title is really fantastic, in every sense: the alternation Mark / Simone wonders, the riffs are heavy and direct as ever, the oriental side of the verses makes the chorus even more aggressive, and the little break with Gregorian chant is simply jouissif. I take this opportunity to point out that our redhead with fiery hair has never performed as well as on the album. Since the theatrics of "Unleashed" to the more rock side of "Burn to a cinder", never is too beautiful not, however, it remains compelling, sensitive, perfect ... And manages to be more variable, to explore its maximum range, which deserves all our respect.
As for music, well, this is an opus of an ambition, which nevertheless manages to seduce us every moment. Mark sings though rather less than the previous album but the album marries many influences and diversity of experience is wonderful. And again, Epica surprise by waiving its own traditions. For this time, the longest piece of the disc is not the final title, but a large central pad, the heart of the work: it is the aptly named "Kingdom of Heaven."
With the introduction and ethereal oriental followed by a couplet whose descent guitar, jerky and technical desire, is ruthlessly efficient, spinning chills. It then finds a little of the charm of the piece "Consign to Oblivion", especially in the choruses that bring us to this beautiful album. But the further along the track, over the structure of it until we become disoriented inextricable. Epica has never been so complex, even suggesting a gradual break even completely wacky and experimental daring, and yet fits very well at all. Surprises guaranteed! And if at first you remain confused, ultimately, we can only bow before this work, which claims both classical music as black metal (see the blasts that are emerging in the fourth minute ), and especially progressive metal!
And we all thought he heard the sixth track! But no, because even if the second half of the album pressed less pleasurable, we can expect the emotion on the pretty (albeit much more traditional invoice) "Tides of Time" and "White Waters" (where the duo with Tony Kakko is more convincing than that of Roy with Khan in 2005), good heavy / thrash enough bourrin the firebrand "Semblance of Liberty," and the epic "Design Your Universe" ... a good title, but which I still quite below any other title-tracks offered by the group in the past. Note that on some songs, which call for reflection on the manipulation of opinion and the regimentation of minds, the group squarely incorporated excerpts from speeches of Obama or Bush's father (the same that had been used Megadeth in 1992 )!
In short, how to summarize information about this album? This is an Epica like you've never heard heavier, heavier, more progressive and more complex than ever before. More colorful, more successful than was his glorious predecessor, but perhaps not better - because where The Divine Conspiracy knew keep us in suspense from beginning to end, the length and complexity of this 4th opus become the long boring, and prevent us from fully expressing our enthusiasm until the end. The distribution of grades is not perfectly balanced, where as I know, maybe it is finally possible, after a while, do not be disheartened by this deluge of choruses, big riffs and orchestrations.
Nevertheless, critics of the group would do well once in their life, try listening to this new album, titanic production in charm yet very authentic: they do not come back! One of the best offerings of the year, a group that has never disappointed.