Epica - Consign To Oblivion
Transmission Records
Symphonic Gothic Metal
11 songs (52:53)
Release year: 2005
Epica, Transmission Records
Reviewed by Ian
Album of the month

In 2003 Epica released their debut album The Phantom Agony and became almost overnight one of the leading bands in the gothic area. The sheer brilliance of the music, the perfect blend of opera, gothic, symphonic and power styles, the incredible voice of the unknown (until then) Simone Simons made the album a terrific experience. A lot of people (me amongst them) thought this to be one of the best releases in the gothic scene. Quite an accomplishment for a debut!

Many times over the last two years I found myself wondering how could they possibly top the first release. I have to tell you I’m not the biggest fan of the copy-paste type of bands. I mean I really appreciate bands that do not paint themselves into a corner and release year after year the same type of album – no matter how good or successful they might be. I admire a band that’s not afraid to take chances, to experiment a little, bottomline, to evolve. So, two years later we are presented with the band’s second album, Consign To Oblivion. Is this better that Phantom? Is it a worthy sequel? Does it lack its predecessor brilliance? I will try to answer these question in the following comments.

This opus has definitely everything you would expect from an Epica album: powerful riffs, boombastic choir, epic arrangements and heavenly voice. It’s also more open, it has more self-confidence, showing how much the band has grown, hence more varied compositions, experimenting a little with new sounds and new genres. Epica’s uncanny ability to mix symphonic parts with the metallic elements together with the Epica Orchestra – 8 piece strings orchestra and the Epica choir – 6 voices has resulted in a majestic grand scale operatic spherical sound that catches you right from the beginning. Simone Simons has improved a lot from the debut album. Her voice is more mature now, she sounds more confident, more open, taking a more laid-back approach to the music. Aside from her operatic soprano style, on this album we discover her versatility, singing in a less operatic way, with more depth and mid-range vibrant leads. The arrangements on this album are much more varied and complex, Coen Janssen’s keyboards are stellar sometimes in the background, enhancing the atmosphere, other times right up front setting the pace. Inspired mostly on the mayan civilization, the album opens with bass player Yves Huts’ composition, the boombastic orchestral short intro Hunab K’u (that’s Mayan for ‘The Origin Of The Universe’), setting the soundscape for the things to come. Dance Of Fate has an excellent blend of guitars and strings setting an alert pace, with Simone proving her versatility changing from power to operatic vocals style efortlessly. Excellent change of pace with the keys playing an important role providing the surrounding atmosphere. A full force choir introduces us to The Last Crusade with the heavy fast guitars and the string orchestra sharing the spotlight. One of the best elements of this album are the choirs, almost each song has great choir arrangements boosting the vocal line. Sometimes with male voice, sometimes with female voice, the choir underlines the power of the songs and adds to the emotional touch. Solitary Ground is a great ballad, the song where Simone shows us her introspective side, singing in a highly emotional tone (close to Within Temptation’s Sharon den Adel style). Excellent mix of keyboards and strings, a melancholic soundscape. I tell you, this is what Ulysses might have heard while tied-up to the mast and the sirens were luring him with their song. Again the full force choir is present on Blank Infinity with good powerful and emotional singing from Simone. Excellent build up to the chorus using the orchestra and an up-beat dual guitar rhythm. Surprisingly, Mark Jansen’s voice is present only in the second half of the album, starting with Force Of The Shore, but his grunts and screams are powerful and aggressive, sharpening the overall sound. Strong riffs and Arabic influences make this one of the strongest songs of the album. Quietus starts with a medieval motive present throughout the entire song, with the orchestra building on it, with Simone’s voice sometimes quiet and mellow, sometimes open and full of expression. The keyboards enhance the spirit of the song, excellent work again by Coen Janssen. One of the songs with the fastest riffs on the album – Mother Of Light brings together Mark and Simone’s voices singing together with the guitars and the choir playing a major role. A rich composition with good bridge and good balance. Roy Khan (Kamelot) guests on the album on Trois Vierges, a ballad written for the Dutch movie Joyride. Having the best voices in metal together one would say that they should have deserved a better song to prove their talent and chemistry. Unfortunately this is not one of the strongest track on the album, I think it lacks the album essence and spirit. Another Me is a melancholic piece with catchy lines and strong lyrics where Simone again is at her best with the high notes. A strong choir supports the vocal line while the guitars harsh sound is balanced by the boombastic orchestration. The title track is the longest and the most ambitious song that Epica has written. Powerful, bombastic, with Mark’s growls back in full swing this is the most representative song for Epica style. Aggressive and harsh parts supported by dual sharp guitars, emotional surreal and feminine voice backed by symphonic orchestra, huge keyboards adding to the atmosphere.

Listening to this new Epica album, you can tell that the band has matured a lot (in composition and style), the compositions have much more charater, they are more varied and complex. A team effort, most of the band members adding their part to the creative process, resulting in an album with a more natural sound, more groovy and more confident. Get this album, play it and I guarantee you that you’ll be blown away by this delicate and emotional sound of thunder.
Killing Songs :
Dance Of Fate, Solitary Ground, Force Of The Shore, Consign To Oblivion
Ian quoted 90 / 100
Other albums by Epica that we have reviewed:
Epica - The Quantum Enigma reviewed by Joel and quoted 93 / 100
Epica - Requiem for the Indifferent reviewed by Khelek and quoted 86 / 100
Epica - Design Your Universe reviewed by Kyle and quoted 89 / 100
Epica - The Divine Conspiracy reviewed by Marty and quoted 85 / 100
Epica - We Will Take You With Us reviewed by Ben and quoted no quote
To see all 7 reviews click here
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