With The Holographic Principle, Epica continue to get better with each new release, and there's no telling where they'll go next.
Holland's Epica is a band that has drastically improved from album to album, and have yet to skip a beat. Their latest effort, The Holographic Principle, is no exception. Without a doubt, this is their absolute best work of art to date, and the perfect time for any Metal fan -- yes, even those who haven't liked them in the past -- to give them a listen. There are two things that have really helped to move this band forward over the years both in terms of songwriting and cohesion; the first of which was the addition of competent lead guitarist Isaac Delahaye (ex-God Dethroned) in 2009, and the second of which would be the development of frontwoman Simone Simons' strengthened versatility and diversity in melodies.
After a brief introductory track, the album launches into its first single, Edge of the Blade. While the band have already put out some fairly radio-friendly songs in their past, they've truly reached a pinnacle with this one. The instrumentals fire on all fronts here, and the chorus quickly becomes an addiction to the listener's ears. This is exactly the sound the band thrives on at the most, and its highlights are featured throughout many of the other tracks on the album as well. Next, we're treated to a sort of Arabian diversion with A Phantasmic Parade, showcasing a much different atmosphere, but still adhering to Epica's preferred conventions.
Universal Death Squad, another single, is another highlight of the album with a whole lot of moving parts and barely any room to catch your breath. If there's one negative that can be associated with it (and the album as a whole), it's the chanting of the background choir. This has plagued all of their albums in the past, and continues to drag them down here (albeit a lot less than usual). It's not that a choir doesn't fit with this style of music; it's that they're used for the sole purpose of having chant-a-long anthems during live shows, which just sounds cheesy and boring when thrown into the midst of the songs as they have been.
Divide and Conquer is a heavier track, although rather straight-forward with a catchy chorus. The band know that they excel at these types of songs, and fans of their past few albums will feel right at home with this one. Beyond the Matrix basically follows suit, while Once Upon a Nightmare is more of a ballad that picks up closer to the end. In essence, their newfound dedication to diversity in sounds has reached its peak with this album, and the tracks couldn't flow any better than they do.
Dancing in a Hurricane is quite possibly the best song on the album overall. It's more folk-oriented than the other ones, and it takes a while to get to the chorus, but when it hits, it HITS! Another cool bonus to look forward to is the 2xCD and 3xCD digipaks. The second disc includes acoustic tracks of some of the songs on the album, which are pretty drastic changes, but not at all detrimental. The third disc is full of instrumental versions of the album's songs.
Images courtesy of Nuclear Blast Records.