Black Lodge
Gothic Metal
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The female fronted metal scene is clogged up with too many bands with more and more hopping on the bandwagon.  It often makes it hard to filter out the good from the bad.  Here's one that is good.  Eleine is a Swedish band fronted by their namesake.  The label hype touts Eleine as an "alternative" model which from what I can see means she takes her wardrobe cues from Helena Michaelsen.  A bit extreme for my tastes but I assume I am not necessarily Eleine's target audience.

As it turns out Eleine can actually sing!  The music squarely fits in the symphonic metal realm and not too dissimilar to Delain.  When the occassional male growls turn up the Epica vibe kicks in but it doesn't happen all that often.  Eleine is the star vehicle that the band has hitched their wagon to and based on what I'm hearing they may had a long solid ride in front of them.  If you like the genre this one comes highly recommended.

"Our noble Scriba Pontificus had a listen to their self-titled debut album:

The main issue that lovers of progressive/dark metal have with the symphonic metal genre (though, to be fair, it is the main attraction for most members of the record-buying public) — is that there is often an over-reliance on energy creation in the studio…

Emphasizing virtuosity, over-producing & over-polishing rhythm lines, glossing-up keyboard melodies and creating all that spectacularly improbable vocal bombast…

That’s why Metal Fans are beginning to turn away. The commercial approach is becoming formulaic. Symphonic metal is not as atmospheric as it once was. True fans are bored by the stagnation. So, when a band like Eleine strides in with some new ideas… It really makes you think.  Starting with ‘Land Beyond Sanity’ this has darkly jagged guitars that splinter and drop like rock-fall from the craggy tufts of Mount Doom.  The main vocal is pearlescent in the sulfurous atmosphere — and accompanied by wickedly corrupting moans and devilish cries.  The glorious guitar-break is electrostatic and played at breathtaking speed, creating a plasma of energy that fires right into your spiritual being.  The drama continues with ‘Destiny’ and the grandly operatic relationship that the vocal has with those darkly sinister droplets of guitar that seem to worm their way right into your inner-ear.  The silvery vocal shines splendidly above the blackened mesh. The song has an hypnotic melody and abundant ambition.  Yes, it is “commercial” in its Gothic artistry — but also retains the power of dark-evil deep in its bowels.  The album concludes with ‘Death Incarnate’ — a military march. Like an invasion of Wildings from Beyond the Wall.  This, too, is dark, mysterious and gloomy… Like waiting for a collection of storm clouds to cry out their wet misery.  There is no doubt that the unearthly guitar-lines will invade your subconscious and haunt your daydreams.  Symphonic metal needs to be strong to survive. And Eleine demonstrates the evolving nature of the genre — with some thrillingly beautiful vocals, majestic musical mastery, iridescent invention and awe-inspiring ambition.  Turn up the bass, crank the volume high and let this collection of songs wrap themselves around your immortal soul." - Metal As Religion

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  • "The Phantom Agony marked the start of the now decade-long and world-wide career of the Dutch group EPICA. The album was recorded at The Gate Studio in Wolfsburg, Germany, under the leadership of the renowned producer and engineer Sacha Paeth (a.o. Aina, After Forever, Rhapsody, Kamelot) and at its release it was critically acclaimed to be one of the most impressive Dutch Epic Metal debut albums ever. The classically trained mezzo-soprano vocalist Simone Simons is a true revelation, confronting a complete choir & orchestra just as easily as she battles the shrouds clad grunts. But it is the incredible arrangements and production, this band of ex-After Forever guitarist Mark Jansen gives a unique place in Dutch rock history. “Pain and beauty blend into a musical experience that will saturate all the listener's senses”, one critic wrote after listening to the overwhelming CD. He could not have put it better.Ten years after its original release, The Phantom Agony is back in store. Remastered from the original master tapes, as a double CD. The expanded edition comes in a deluxe digipack and contains 15 bonus tracks, including 7 previously unreleased versions and one previously unreleased song. The 20 pages thick booklet will provide unique photos and memorabilia, plus liner notes by guitarist Mark Jansen.Track listingTMD-071  2CD EPICA - The Phantom Agony – Expanded EditionChapter 11. Adyta 1:27 “The Neverending Embrace”2. Sensorium 4:49 3. Cry for the Moon 6:44 "The Embrace that Smothers - Part IV"4. Feint 4:195. Illusive Consensus 5:00  6. Façade of Reality 8:10 "The Embrace that Smothers - Part V"7. Run for a Fall 6:31   8. Seif al Din 5:46 "The Embrace that Smothers - Part VI"9. The Phantom Agony 8:5910. Veniality 4:3711. The Phantom Agony 4:33 - single version12. Triumph of Defeat 3:54  Chapter 21. Adyta 1:28 - orchestral version2. Sensorium 4:53 – orchestral version3. Cry for the Moon 6:40 - orchestral version4. Feint 4:18 - orchestral version5. Illusive Consensus 5:02 - orchestral version6. Basic Instinct 4:07 - orchestral track7. Run for a Fall 6:26 – orchestral version8. The Phantom Agony 9:00 - orchestral version9. Veniality 4:35 - orchestral version10. Feint 4:53 - piano version11. Cry for the Moon 3:30 - single version12. Run for a Fall 4:29 - single versionTracks 1 - 8 previously unreleasedThese recordings have been exclusively restored and dynamicallyremastered in the 24-bit domain from the original digital masters"Debut release from the Dutch beauty and beast gothic metal band Epica. The band was put together by Mark Jensen, the former guitarist for After Forever. Musically speaking the similarities to After Forever are striking with mezzo-soprano vocalist Simone Simons acting as the counterpart to Floor Jansen. The music has that gothic epic grandeur with classical overtones through out. All of this is due to the always lush production of Sascha Paeth and the implementation of a large string section and choir. Apparently Jansen had a falling out with the rest of After Forever and essentially set up a parallel band. I can't say this is actually better than After Forever but on early listens I'd say it's pretty damn close or just as good. Highly recommended.
  • I'm going to get straight to the point.  If you are a fan of female fronted metal you must own this album.  The Human Contradiction is a complete triumph.  It finds the band returning a bit to their roots.  There are still poppy elements - that's part of their core sound - but there is a heaviness that will remind you of Lucidity.  Nightwish's Marco Hietala returns contributing on clean vocals. Also back is Orphanage vocalist George Oosthoek who is one of the best growlers in the metal scene.  Arch Enemy vocalist Alissa White-Gluz makes a guest appearance.Timo Somers' guitar riffs are chunkier, Charlotte's voice is impeccable as always, and Martijn's keyboards are simply epic.  The album was recorded at Studio Fredman and sounds massive.  Weaving the whole album together is a sci-fi theme borrowed from the writings of Octavia Butler.This is an album filled with a enough earworm hooks to drive you crazy but at the same time its heavy!  For my taste its a top 10 album for 2014.  BUY OR DIE!Limited edition 2CD mediabook edition.  The bonus CD contains 2 additional new studio tracks as well as live tracks and two orchestral versions of tracks from The Human Contradiction.  Essential.
  • "Allow yourself to be transported to another world by PHANTASMA - a project sprung from the collective energy of Georg Neuhauser (Serenity), Oliver Philipps (Everon) and Charlotte Wessels (Delain). The release features memorable songs and intense arrangements centered around included novella ‘The Deviant Hearts’.PHANTASMA was born from the longstanding ambition to create a story driven concept record of Georg Neuhauser, vocal force behind Tyrolean Symphonic Metal outfit Serenity. He found his partner in crime with multi-instrumentalist composer, producer and vocalist Oliver Philipps (Everon) who gladly embarked on this new mission that allowed him to reconnect with being a musician in the first place, as a welcome change from working for other bands, which he has done extensively over the years, providing the rich sound connoisseurs of the genre have come to expect from him. As Oliver worked with DELAIN since their debuting record, a request at Charlotte Wessels’ address was made to complete the dynamic trio of PHANTASMA. To introduce Charlotte Wessels to any connoisseur of Symphonic metal would be like carrying coals to Newcastle - she is, after all, since 2005 the vocal figurehead of Dutch grandees DELAIN. It is therefore not only surprising, but also gratifying that Charlotte now even found some leisure time, to lend not only her voice to PHANTASMA but also her debut novella ‘The Deviant Hearts - which was written especially for the project.With PHANTASMA she can let her beautiful and variable voice run free like the wind - sometimes tender like on “Runaway Grey”, plaintive on “Let It Die”, and the duet “The Lotus And The Willow” - makes Charlotte’s passion for Nick Cave abundantly clear, matching even the intensity of “Where The Wild Roses Grow”. Meanwhile Georg’s dedication for classic rock acts like Queen and Meatloaf shine through in tracks like “Crimson Course” and “Novaturient”. Giving a face to other characters in the story are noted guest vocalists, such as Tom Englund, who performs on title-track “The Deviant Hearts”, Cloe Lowery on the heart-wrenching ballad “Try” alongside Dennis Schunke, who can be heard also on the comforting “Carry Me Home”."
  • New 2 disc expanded edition of Shallow Life comes with a bonus disc with live tracks and b-side tunes and 2 new acoustic versions of "Spellbound" and "Closer".
  • "All music has themes but metal is a genre which wears its heart on its sleeve. Thematics color everything in metal, from audience reception and marketing to the actual composition and execution of the music itself. It can affect production, tone, scales, and much more in an effort to align everything with a perceived image or to jar that image by deviating from the norm in just the right way. Take goth metal; a sub-section of doom, it relies on the theme of autumn, death, depression and nature for its impact. We haven’t even mentioned bands yet and album art, track names and that certain goth sound has already sprung into your mind. Sometimes, these themes become even more powerful and, by some twist of fate or by a pecuilar predestination, reflect in the musicians themselves: they might reflect the ideals of the music in their actions or in the facts of their lives.And sometimes, that reflection has a bitter edge. Aleah Starbridge is such an unfortunate mirror; the vocalist has been an influential part of the goth/doom scene for ages, flitting around the edges of projects like Katatonia, Swallow the Sun and her own solo works and collaboration project as Trees of Eternity. Tragically, she passed away in April, leaving an unfinished album and a host of themes now all too painful to contemplate. An immensely talented vocalist, her words now echo on the last piece of work to ever bear her name, Hour of the Nightingale, and they transform the album into something more. The themes of death, loss and darkness ring all that more true around her singing and the accompanying instruments. It’s almost as if her own story amplifies that of the album.The story’s makeup should be familiar to fans of the sub-genre. After all, Trees of Eternity are a super-group made up of members that basically birthed the scene: Juha Raivio (Swallow The Sun) play guitar, given her a backing role that’s among the staples of the sub-genre. It works in the background of Aleah’s vocals, punctuating the melodies with its own slow, mounrful progressions. On these duties he is joined by Fredrik Norrman (ex-Katatonia, October Tide), as leads and chords are exchanged behind the vocals. “Condemned to Silence” (which also features Mick Moss of Antimatter) is a good example of these dynamics. The guitars are split into two parts, as is traditional, which then pick up on different parts and notes in the dual vocal lines which make the track work.The other motivating force behind the projects are the drums, populated by none other than Kai Hahto (Nightwish, Wintersun), a truly legendary name within the metal community. His work here is more restrained than what he usually does on the two projects mentioned above, naturally fitting himself to the more fragile and ethereal compositions which make up Trees of Eternity. So too Mattias Norrman (ex-Katatonia, October Tide), the last facet of the project, whose bass work mostly enriches and envelops the rest of the music. Together with the drums, his work gives the project its shell. Such is the case on “A Million Tears” for example, as he works in tandem with Hahto to give an outer casing to the slow and thoughtful track. Here, as is true throughout the rest of the album, Aleah takes the forefront, handling most of the weight behind the track. When her voice goes soft on the outro, the song becomes its namesake, drawing forth an intense and painful sorrow.When we say this is true for the rest of the album, we mean it. Her voice, divorced from the heartbreaking circumstances of her life as it is, completely dominates this release. She was a capable and expressive vocalist, possessed of a rich and full voice. On this release it is used as the anchor around which the other instruments spin, a maelstrom of emotion that works together to enhance the overall experience. Musically, the album won’t knock you off your feet; it utilizes all the basic tools of goth metal and doubles down on their message and themes. However, especially when coupled with the circumstances surrounding it, Hour of the Nightingale has an undeniable power which perhaps stems from that very same simplicity. It’s all about sinking deeper into the autumnal mindset, drifting further into a melancholic, faintly sylvan state. For that journey, there is no psychopomp more fitting than Aleah Starbridge. Rest in peace." - Heavy Blog Is Heavy
  • Limited edition with one bonus track."Following the departure of vocalist Lisa Johannson in 2011, fans of Sweden’s pillar gothic/doom metal act Draconian were left wondering about the future of the outfit. Enter Heike Langhans, formerly of The Great Sleep, to take the helm. The band’s newest, Sovran, surprisingly, sounds like nothing ever slowed them down. It’s an album that, while business as usual for the sextet, demonstrates that a major lineup change has done the band some favors in the way of memorability and songwriting.It’s basically a given that Draconian’s first two albums — 2003’s Where Lovers Mourn and 2005’s Arcane Rain Fell — are some of the most important goth/doom albums to be released in the past two decades. The band was never the type to rest on its laurels, but 2008’s Turning Season Within was too polished for its own good, and 2011’s A Rose for the Apocalypse, while offering more in the way of symphonic doom/death, left me cold.Sovran, by comparison, sounds rejuvenated, with the band finding a finally harmonious balance of the theatrical, morose, and menacing. Newcomer Heike Langhan’s vocals are less operatic than Johannson’s but are a better fit for the band’s current direction, with “Dishearten” providing one of the best examples of her range, both vocally and emotionally. Far more than just a pretty voice, Langhan’s voice adds feelings of yearning and pain where Anders Jacobsson’s growls fall short. Jacobsson, while not the most dynamic growler, is convincing enough in his delivery and prevents Sovran from turning into a weepy, saccharine mess as many goth/doom albums are apt to; the ugly, eerie doom riffs of opener “Heavy Lies the Crown” work wonderfully with his bellowing, fiery roars. Even if his main job is to provide the “beast” to balance the “beauty,” he does it effectively enough to where it doesn’t seem forced or cliched; similarly, Langhan’s voice is a driving force on many tracks rather than being relegated merely to choruses and “soft parts.”It’s the remainder band, however, that makes Sovran such a rich listen: “Rivers Between Us,” the ballad they’ve been hinting at for years, oozes with a fragile beauty that is elevated by Langhan’s vocals and the achingly sad guitar melodies, backed by violins, and album closer “The Marriage of Attaris” approaches Mournful Congregation in terms of sheer weight and grandiose arrangement. For being squarely in the goth/doom niche, Sovran is very much a guitar-based album, incorporating melodies reminiscent of My Dying Bride and early Swallow the Sun, with “Pale Tortured Blue” being a standout cut for its pure might and majestic power. When keyboards appear, they function as more than mere “atmosphere” and contribute layers of sound that, if not present, would make the songs feel hollow and incomplete. An array of mellotrons, violins, and strings appear throughout the album and add a tasteful elegance to the song structures without ever overstepping bounds into campiness or melodrama. Furthermore, Draconian are able to effectively navigate slower tempos without ever falling into mire, and the pickups in tempo are well placed, such as the driving double bass in “Stellar Tombs” and the ending section of “Dishearten.”Simply, Sovran is an album that works equally well as a full album absorbed in one listen or in smaller chunks; it’s not often that, in a genre that is capable of doing only a few things well, there are no throwaway tracks on an album — Sovran is the exception. The band’s chemistry, even with a major lineup change, has fallen into place. The songwriting is effectively paced and finds a balance between drawing listeners into a dusky atmosphere while still putting emphasis on the heaviness of the sound and the moods portrayed by the melodies. Miraculously, though this album has all the trademarks of the goth/doom niche, Draconian avoid being stereotypical and elevate the soft/loud & beautiful/ugly dynamics of the genre into a new place. Within the span of an hour, Sovran leads listeners through a gallery of despair and tragedy as well as offering glimmers of hope and catharsis. It has an artistic maturity and dead seriousness lacking in other artists of the genre, and it’s the same earnestness that has helped Draconian establish themselves as the forerunners of a sound that is endlessly aped and convoluted.Sovran will not change the opinions of those who aren’t fans of the band already, but it is an excellent album that re-establishes Draconian as masters of what they do — limited though the appeal may be, sometimes a band just needs to come along and show others how it’s really done." - Nine Circles
  • The much anticipated second album from Delain is here and it does not disappoint! Its interesting to see how the band has evolved. Originally conceived by Within Temptation keyboardist Martijn Westerholt as a studio project, Delain has evolved into a full blown active band. The success of the debut Lucidity tipped Westerholt's hand and Delain became a REAL band. With Charlotte Wessels on vocals, Ronald Landa on guitar and grunt vocals, Sun Caged bassist Rob Vander Loo, and Sander Zoer on drums, Delain took the Netherlands by storm. Delain toured extensively, opening for many bands including sister band Within Temptation, and appeared at many festivals. Ultimately they became a headlining band. With that behind them they headed into the studio to create their sophomore work.April Rain is cut from similar cloth from Lucidity but different enough to hear the evolution mentioned above. Instead of the multiple guests that were featured on Lucidity, April Rain does benefit from the return of Nightwish bassist Marco Hietala who sings male vocals on two tracks, as well as world renowned cellist Maria Ahn.Martijin Westholt is clearly at the helm - the big symphonic sound is still in place. Those elements that he brought to Within Temptation are clearly evident. There is a difference though...perhaps because of Jacob Hansen's mix the sound is more focused and even grittier, crunchier (thank you Mr. Landa). Songs tend to be on the shorter side but they slam harder. Having been familar with Rob Van Der Loo's intense basswork with Sun Caged its great to see him bring that progressive element to the rhythm section. Charlotte Wessels is young but has developed into the perfect voice and face for Delain.The comparisons to Within Temptation will continue but its obvious that Delain has come up with their own sound that stands on its on.This is THE symphonic gothic metal album of 2009. Nothing will touch it. This is the North American digipak edition of April Rain - with the exclusive bonus track "Come Closer". BUY OR DIE.
  • Second album from this French gothic metal band masterminded by Vynce Leff.  Odd situation...for a couple of years the band was fronted by Clementine Delauney, elevating the band's status as they went on tour with Delain.  Clementine left before this album was recorded, touring with Serenity so there is no studio documentation of her as a member of the band.  She has now been replaced Elvyne Lorient. Whyzdom's music is definitely molded in a similar fashion to Delain and Within Temptation.  Its very heavily symphonic and Leff has incorporated a choir into the mix lending an even bigger, more bombastic sound.  Fans of Delain's April Rain should check this one.
  • With the demise of After Forever, Epica has taken the throne as the kings (queens?) of beauty and the beast metal.
  • Produced by Stephen van Haestregt (Within Temptation, Ambeon). Additional production & mix by Oscar Holleman (Ayreon, Krezip, Within Temptation) at Studio RS29, Waalwijk, The Netherlands.What can you possibly do when you released the most sensational Metal debut of the year 2000? Actually it’s quite simple. You have a repeat performance of swaggering grooves on the next album as well.Decipher doesn’t politely draw your attention – it simply grabs you by the throat. Even more so than on Prison Of Desire the classical orchestra and choir and the more than impressive sound of the band itself have been forged together at superhuman temperatures. As a result the “Heavenly” elements appear to have embraced the scorching hellfire amalgamating into a fascinating alloy.For almost sixty minutes the flawless soprano of singer Floor Jansen reverberates the blaze of the ferocious nether world, which forms the breeding ground of the unconventional songs on the album. A world that abundantly proves that After Forever has grown. In every aspect.After Forever sounds as After Forever!DeLuxe 2CD Set in Digipack, Original Album & Artwork, Extensive Booklet,31 Remastered Tracks = 11 tracks Original Album + 20 Bonus Tracks,over 150 minutes of Gothic Metal!Non-Album Tracks, Unreleased Versions, Sessions & Demo’s.featuring: Mark Jansen: EPICA, Sander Gommans: HDK & Trillium and Arjen AYREON Lucassen.The original Dechiper album sold over 120.000 copies.Liner notes by Sander GommansTrack listingTMD-069 AFTER FOREVER – Decipher: The Album - The SessionsChapter 1 -  Decipher: The Album1. Ex Cathedra 2:02 -Ouverture-2. Monolith of Doubt 3:313. My Pledge of Allegiance #1 6:25 -The Sealed Fate-4. Emphasis 4:18 5. Intrinsic 6:446. Zenith 4:217. Estranged 6:55 - A Timeless Spell-8. Imperfect Tenses 4:08 - duet9. My Pledge of Allegiance #2 5:07 -The Tempted Fate-10. The Key 4:4711. Forlorn Hope 6:21Bonus Tracks12. For The Time Being 5:0413. Who wants to Live Forever 4:48 – feat Ayreon14. Imperfect Tenses 4:10 – duet with Damian Wilson15. Monolith of Doubt 3:32 – Single Version16. Imperfect Tenses 4:06 – Orchestral VersionChapter 2 – Decipher: The Sessions1. The Key 4:422. Monolith of Doubt 3:313. My Pledge of Allegiance #2 5:024. Emphasis 4:175. Estranged 6:536. My Pledge of Allegiance #1 6:207. Imperfect Tenses 4:05 (vocals Floor only)8. For the Time Being 5:029. Forlorn Hope 6:2010. Zenith 4:1811. Intrinsic 6:5612. Who wants to Live Forever 4:48 (Ayreon only)13. Monolith of Doubt 3:43 – Demo14. Emphasis 4:30 - Demo15. For The Time Being 5:09 – DemoREMASTERED IN THE 24-BIT DOMAIN FROM THE ORIGINAL MASTERS
  • Limited edition 2CD mediabook with expanded booklet."Dutch band DELAIN have become symphonic metal darlings. Their sound has always been dark and arresting, filled with drama and spontaneity. Lead singer Charlotte Wessels belts out the songs with sheer potency and passion, with thousands marvelling at her vocal output. And the band have steady elevated over the years. With five records under their belts, they have morphed into a true player in the symphonic metal bracket. And under a live setting, they’re truly engrossing to watch. And the Dutch music scene is explosive at the moment. There are so many acts walking upon the hallowed pathway of metal, trying their hardest to set themselves apart. DELAIN have it all in their cannon, blasting through the mediocrity like a bullet. And their sound is progressive and often laced in poetic, but dark wordplay.The band’s new record Moonbathers is a bashful offering complete with empowering guitar lines and infectious vocal work. And the act are always looking at new ways of expressing themselves and their musical qualities, by doing so, they’ve certainly fulfilled their desires. They’re also clearly ambitious, not letting the guard down, never forcing the music, never polluting the vibes. And the symphonic wonders also like to create an atmosphere within their music. The songs all have that dark, melodic, imprint. They’re magical in their deliverance. Wessels has a distinctive voice. We all knew that, but on Moonbathers, she naturally elevates her hooks. It’s balanced with great composure, struck like an empowering chord. Her vocals are never strained; they’re never stretched out or completely lost in the instrumentals. It’s all beautiful and charismatic.Hands Of Gold starts proceedings. It begins with a blistering guitar riff that powers on. Wessels sings with authority, belting out the darkened lyrics. She has a stern grasp musically. The Hurricane starts with Wessels’ vocals and a soft drumbeat, it then lifts up and the chorus meets perfectly with the guitar influence. It is a fantastic burst of energy. Pendulum opens with dirty guitar strokes and sincere vocals. It never calms or loses momentum.DELAIN are a band that have a great backbone. They’re talented musicians that love the dark side and its glorious undercurrent. Their music isn’t volatile, but it does hold up to the metal name. It carries the band forward, without any inevitable missteps. Moonbathers is a brilliant compendium that strikes fire into the belly and powers up the mind. It commits to the genre well indeed." - Distorted Sound
  • Lots of different versions of this album coming out from Century Media. This is a CD/DVD digipak. It comes with a poster, sticker, and custom guitar pick. What's on the DVD? Here is what the promo sea:"The DVD, 'Dark Passengers,' contains six intertwining vignettes, each one featuring a different band member".Sixth album from Italy's best export since the invention of neapolitan style pizza. The band gets a bit of heat since they achieved break out success. Far from a sell out, Lacuna Coil is as heavy as ever. The band's focus remains on the co-vocalists Christina Scabbia and Andrea Ferro. Filled with chunky riffing and some slick production, not a hell of a lot has changed. Lacuna Coil's music has always been laced with hooks. You want to call it poppy? Go ahead but its what they have always done. Want to hear where Evanescence got their sound? Check out Lacuna Coil. They may not have been the first in the genre but they are certainly one of the standard bearers. Highly recommended.
  • "A very special semi-acoustic live set from this seminal gothic metal band. The album captures their favourite songs specially rearranged for this event, while also including reworked cover versions of songs by Slayer and Nick Cave, the latter featuring guest vocals from Tiamat's Johan Edlund."
  • Limited edition 2 CD version includes an acoustic bonus disc."EPICA is a widely known and regarded Symphonic Metal band from The Netherlands. Formed in 2003, the band had previously released seven full-length albums. “The Holographic Principle” is the band’s eighth, and contains twelve tracks. “Eidola” is the tone-setting lead-in song. The symphony is tentative and mysterious, especially from the fat whole notes that establish the baseline. Some chanted vocals make it sound like something out of a heretic’s church, and the percussion really shines here. “Edge of the Blade” roars in direct and quickly. Simone’s clean vocals are all over the place…soft and delicate at times, harmonic during other times and far reaching as well. I find myself gravitating towards the vocals over the music in this track. “A Phantasmic Parade” is about the same length, but the harmonized vocal progressions remind me of Eastern influences, and the supporting instrumentation would agree. The bridge section really gathers steam, from the thundering double bass in particular. I love the vocal peaks in the chorus as well.“Universal Death Squad” sound about like what you would expect. It’s ominous and heavy at times, like an army of the undead marching in perfect unison. Other times the melody comes through more, temporarily distracting you from what looms out there. Harsh vocals accentuate the point. “Beyond the Matrix” has some really nice piano work that plays in unison with the clean vocals. Once again I pick up on some Eastern influences with that brief guitar fill before the chorus. Following a sweet bridge is a darker passage with more pronounced heavy guitars and harsh vocals, and a truly outstanding lead guitar solo. As is often the case with the softer songs on EPICA’s albums “Once upon a Nightmare” does not disappoint. It allows Simone’s voice to really soar and the band’s sense of grand melody to take center stage. “Ascension – Dream State Armageddon” combines comely vocals with heard and heavy riffs. The harsh vocals rattle in pretty strong here as well. The Symphonic elements are in the forefront of the song, as good as any seasoned orchestra. “Dancing in a Hurricane” is an interesting song title. The opening part of the song does indeed sound like you are watching a street dancer, clothed in a “bedlah” and hypnotizing you with her moves. About half-way in, the hurricane arrives, with prominent low brass, staccato strings and Death vocals.The closing song is the title track, an eleven minute orchestral piece that expands upon their depth of knowledge of various instruments, and how to connect them into a cohesive piece. The song has a core sound, but man do they find ways for it to stretch out. This is a very difficult accomplishment. It’s the kind of song that really sets this band apart in this genre and puts some distance on their peers. I could literally write a few pages on just this song, and all the nuances, complexities and various techniques that the band uses to tell this tale, but I will spare you the overblown verbosity. Overall, the album is excellent. It is quintessential EPICA in every sense, and might be the best album they have released to date. There aren’t a ton of surprises in the sense that it sounds about what you would expect, but that is a good thing because what this band does well is really unmatched out there." - Metal Temple