Epica – The Quantum Enigma (Nuclear Blast)

Thursday, 15th May 2014
Rating: 7.5/10

Post-pregnancy Epica in the house, something we rarely get to utter since you know, metal dudes aren’t popping out kiddies too often. (Or ever.) Indeed the always eye-grabbing Simone Simons gave birth to a son last year with Kamelot keyboardist Oliver Paolati, adding a new narrative to a band who has carefully, and meticulously climbed the symphonic metal ladder to be a few rungs below Nightwish. But frankly, Epica has always been spotty because of the gruff-dude vocals of Mark Jansen, and the fact they’re on constant idea overload. All the time. The pattern continues on The Quantum Enigma.

Obviously, the flip-side to having too many ideas per song is having none at all, so some slack is cut for the Dutch brigade. However, this lends to the linear notion of the band’s songs, some of which are so bombastic, Michael Bey would probably blush. It’s true to form on “Victims of Contingency,” with the Simons/Jansen pair taking turns on the mic while symphonic fireworks explode around them. Conversely, the high-wire “Unchain Utopia” features some huffy vocal lines of Simons, along with an opera house-ready chorus, while the dramatic “Reverence – Living in the Heart” upholds the band’s common traits of sub-death metal, along with layers upon layers of Simons.

We’d be remiss if we didn’t point out that The Quantum Enigma eats up 69 minutes, which for some bands, is double-album territory. Not so for this lady and gents. You look at a band like Epica who have virtually all the ingredients in place and compare them to Nightwish, of course, and the difference becomes clear: Nightwish has “songs,” while Epica has something close to resembling songs, but they’re more like clusters of somewhat strong ideas strung together, each fit with a big, blustery opera chorus and some male grunts. Truth is, Epica are more of an acquired taste than ever based on The Quantum Enigma. Wait…maybe Epica is the “quantum enigma.” Hmmm…

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