“The Quantum Enigma” marks Epica’s sixth studio album release and follows on from last years live “Retrospect” offering. Where as that was by the very nature of the title, a look back at the bands past material, this career defining latest album, is entirely forward thinking, both in its construction and delivery.
Epica have constantly strived and succeeded in pushing their own boundaries right from the very start of the bands career, and that ethos does not stop here. However, “The Quantum Enigma” really does take things to a whole new level.
The album begins with the almost obligatory instrumental intro track before bursting into “The Second Stone”, and from that moment on, you realise you are listening to something truly momentous. A cacophony of bombastic, riff laden Metal, interwoven with film score esque choral and orchestral passages that, yes, Epica fans will be well used to but not to this extent. It is almost as if the band have found another gear, another injection of enthusiasm for this album, everything seems just, well, better.
Simone’s maternity break seems to have focused her performance even finer than usual, damn it this lady can sing. Every note, every verse, screams feeling, emotion, depth and substance, there is not a track on the whole album that she does not give every ounce of her being to. “The Essence Of Silence” is one of many stand out tracks from a vocal perspective, a shiver down the spine kind of performance, bouncing off Mark Jansen’s potent and dark growl vocal with a calm ease.
Produced by the highly rated Joost Van Den Broek, the album benefits from a mix of the well honed and highly technical trademark Epica sound, and a raw unbridled ’live’ feeling that gives a whole new dimension to what, essentially, is very much a band effort. It has after all, taken a decade and more to get to this point, and the whole vibe of the album seems to be one of rejoicing in the opening of a new chapter of the Epica story.
Standout tracks (and there are many) are always a personal opinion only, and I’m sure when you get your hands on one of the five editions of the album, you will make your own conclusions in that department. For me, I loved the quite traditional Metal riff that flows through “Sense Without Sanity”, the hauntingly beautiful Oriental and Celtic overtones of “The Fifth Guardian”, a simply sensational instrumental piece that can not fail to move you. The incredibly uplifting “Omen”, with its fine piano parts and faultless vocal (both female and male), and last but not least the title track itself, a quintessentially epic composition that is the embodiment of what Epica are all about, a song that twists and turns, changing direction in the blink of an eye, and yet is a seamlessly free flowing creation that manifests as eleven minutes of musical genius.
With “The Quantum Enigma”, Epica have torn up the rule book and delivered an album that will go down as not only their finest work to date but will define the Symphonic Metal genre for years to come.
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 2
Simone Simons – Vocals
Mark Jansen – Guitar and Vocals
Issac Delahaye – Guitar
Coen Janssen – Piano and Synths
Ariën Van Weesenbeek – Drums
Rob Van Der Loo – Bass
“The Quantum Enigma” sees its U.K. release on May the 5th through Nuclear Blast Records