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Album Reviews : Epica – The Quantum Enigma

By on May 18, 2014

Epica - The Quantum Enigma - ArtworkThe Quantum Enigma, Epica’s sixth opus, is outstanding. This album excels so far beyond any other Epica release I’ve heard before that it’s mind-blowing. Every minute of this record feels like a new chapter in an epic saga. There is such beauty and elegance to this record, but all at once is it fearsome and precise in its delivery also. It thrusts its arm outwards, taking hold of your throat, daring you to try and gasp, before releasing its grip to give you a moments breath; all the while grinning away as the symphonic intensity arises anew, building a sonic wall that sweeps over you, crushing you under its weight, yet somehow all feels delightfully so.

In others words, this is an album you need to hear for yourself! It defies everything you thought you knew about Epica, everything you thought had already been said by this band in past releases, only to suddenly pass out its hand, offering you this dark, gorgeous gem – deliberately rough around the edges at parts – that rings out with exquisite symphony.

The main theme throughout the record explores and breaks down the idea and concept behind quantum physics. It examines the nature of how our very existence is judged, and also ponders how our own conscious and subconscious mind represents the truth in the physical environment around us; a ‘truth’ that is made up by our own conscious awareness. The world is essentially shaped and defined by our own vision and it’s this idea that The Quantum Enigma effectively carries across in its lyrics.

There are so many influences present across this record, so many angles at which the aptly titled ‘Quantum Enigma’ is approached. Its mysterious and complex offerings flutter in on the wings of opening prelude, “Originem”. In this song alone, it bears immediate resemblance to the all-encompassing, late orchestral works of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. It’s a mark proudly worn on its sleeve by the band as lead vocalist Simone Simons’s angelic voice chimes in on the following track “The Second Stone”, while on many another track band founder, backing vocalist and rhythm guitarist Mark Jansen’s monstrous growls are openly welcomed into the fold.

I feel to describe this album in one word would be an impossible and improbable feat. How could one possibly describe an album as this in such simple terms? There is far too high a level of depth and intricacy to this record that not only would it feel detrimental to its profoundness, but moreover would deny the immense amount of work and passion that has been clearly poured into it. Like a well ever-building, the waters of inspiration in this metaphor here are too vast in volume to even attempt an early estimate as to the point at which it ends. No one song here feels like the other, and no one moment feels uninspired or generic. Oriental melodies flow throughout instrumental “The Fifth Guardian – Interlude”, and throughout the rest of The Quantum Enigma, it enchants you into a mystical world of splendour and awe; its presence and temporal spirit much like an emotionally wrenching and beautifully solemn score seen in a high budget film production.

I cannot begin to describe the feeling this album gave me while listening to it. It immediately opens a world of possibility and adventure, one where you are free to feel the world around you in crystal clear clarity – as a window open and transparent to the wealth and amazement that approaches, though also of the darkness that is prevalent in its ominous tones as songs like “Chemical Insomnia” are ushered in.

There is wonderful synergy throughout this whole record. Epica feel as one here and the production level is simply mind-boggling. I can’t remember the last time I heard a symphonic metal record – or any metal record in recent memory to be honest – that affected me as much as this one. Just when I thought Within Temptation had set a new standard for symphonic metal with this year’s Hydra, Epica come along and deliver this one.

Being their first album with new bassist Rob van der Loo (who replaced Yves Huts in 2012), I’m honestly stunned after my listen-through of this album. Not only is the symphonic and orchestral arrangements used on The Quantum Enigma in a league of their own, but every member of Epica comes across wonderfully transparent musically. Nothing is hidden, and while cleverly subtle in its delivery, everything this band has to offer is put on the table offering your ears an aural journey far beyond anything any other metal band has brought forth this year in my mind.

Featuring a host of amazing guest and session musicians, the Dutch symphonic metallers have undeniably outdone themselves once again. As a result, this album just moved very high up my list as a strong contender for Best International Album of 2014. And I’m sure after you check it out for yourself you’ll understand why.

Band: Epica
Album: The Quantum Enigma
Year: 2014
Genre: Symphonic Metal
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Origin: Netherlands

www.epica.nl

Tracklisting:
1. Originem
2. The Second Stone
3. The Essence Of Silence
4. Victims Of Contingency
5. Sense Without Sanity – The Impervious Code
6. Unchain Utopia
7. The Fifth Guardian – Interlude
8. Chemical Insomnia
9. Reverence – Living In The Heart
10. Omen – The Ghoulish Malady
11. Canvas Of Life
12. Natural Corruption
13. The Quantum Enigma – Kingdom Of Heaven Part II

About

Jonathon is an aspiring fantasy/sci-fi novelist and music journalist. Thanks to the influence of the music he grew up with, he has always possessed a keen interest in metal and rock. He is also a huge fan of mythology, legend, and folklore from all across the world. You should follow him on Twitter.