There were a lot of people last year that classed Epica’s The Holographic Principle as one of the albums of the year, but what I certainly didn’t expect was that the band would follow that up with The Solace System, a six-track EP that contains tracks that never made it to The Holographic Principle. The surprising thing is that each of these six tracks could easily have been singles themselves – yes, even Epica’s leftovers are tracks that would put a lot of other bands to shame.
The Solace System pens with a full-on symphonic blast with the single that the EP takes its name from. The track sees Epica at their perfect best – Issac Delahaye’s guitar playing sounds amazing, while the mix of Mark Jansen’s growls and the symphonic vocals of Simone Simons work amazingly well. Simone’s vocals are also a standout on “Fight Your Demons”, which sees Epica reach full crescendo very, very quickly.
“Architect Of Light” sees the band work with a great stop/start tempo which makes the track one of the best on the EP. Again, Delahaye’s guitar playing is in perfect sync with the symphonic instruments while Arien van Weesenbeek’s drumming goes to a whole different level as well. His drumming is also a standout on “Wheel Of Destiny”, which kicks into life after an amazing guitar intro.
The Solace System slows down a little with “Immortal Melancholy”, which is a beautiful acoustic number made something special by the angelic voice of Simons. The EP then closes with “Decoded Poetry”, which is brutal in parts and then slows down when a Gothic choir lends their vocals to the mix… at that point, it almost sounds like an opera within the album itself.
What Epica have created with The Solace System is an amazing EP that just shows how talented this band really is. If these are the tracks that were considered offcuts from the last album, then there is just something amazing about this band because they make for one bloody brilliant EP.