Epica – The Holographic Principle
Release Date: September 30th, 2016
Review By: Rod Whitfield
I am an unabashed and unapologetic sucker for the female fronted symphonic metal thing. In fact, for symphonic metal of just about any kind. I find it epic, bombastic and just plain HUGE. And one of the world’s absolute finest exponents of the style is the Dutch sextet Epica.
That said, this band tends to get their albums out, pretty much every two years without fail, and since 2007’s masterful The Divine Conspiracy, their albums have felt just a tiny smidgeon rushed. Like they needed 5-10% more time and effort put into them to bring them to full fruition. Whilst they are very much a career-band, creating such expansive and grandiose music takes time, care and exacting effort.
However, on this, their seventh studio album, they have shaken that vibe off, kicked it to the curb and walked away, leaving it in the dust. I’m not sure how they’ve done it, it’s only two years again since the last record The Quantum Enigma, but they have. So let’s not question it, but just run with it, okay?
This is unquestionably, in this humble writer’s mind, their best record since the aforementioned The Divine Conspiracy.
Instrumental opener Eidola is dark and menacing but also operatic and gothic, and sets the scene beautifully for the charging orchestral call to arms that is to follow. Edge of the Blade explodes from the speakers, whilst also maintaining that gothic/choral feel, with frontwoman Simone Simons’s delicate but powerful voice rising like an angel’s above the frenetic controlled chaos that supports it.
The dramatic and immense A Phantasmic Parade carries that unstoppable momentum forward, and it continues through to the obligatory power ballad Once Upon a Nightmare, which exalts, exhilarates, swoons and brings a tear to the eye all at once.
The pace picks up again straight away, with the muscular, groove-laden A Cosmic Algorithm, and doesn’t let up at all through to the eleven and a half minute title track and closer, which is a true musical journey and an instant classic epic album closer.
Musicianship and production are of the highest possible magnitude, as you would expect.
So much bombast, so much pomposity, and so much finger lickin’ goodness here, The Holographic Principle is an opus of all proportions, and the work of creative talents with the loftiest imaginable ambitions and the skills to pull them off with aplomb.