A seriously tiring and ultimately empty listening experience

With the turmoil that’s surrounded Nightwish over the past few years, Epica has taken up the mantle of champions of the world of symphonic metal.

The Dutch band always presented a far more diverse vision of this style of music than the Finnish progenitors, particularly with regard to Mark Jansen’s occasional injections of death metal influences in his vocals and riffing.

On The Holographic Principle, Epica is apparently determined to dispense with much of that diversity in favour of complete blow-your-face-out pomposity. The only remnant is Jansen’s voice providing a dark juxtaposition to the vocals of Simone Simons.

Epica’s basic modus operandi here is fairly simplistic songs with extended mid-sections and/or intros/outros, dressed up with overdriven bombast. While lyrically interesting in its exploration of existentialist philosophy, musically The Holographic Principle is a swirling miasma of stringed orchestration and surging symphonic keys, a sensorial overload that too often seems to exist primarily as a support platform for Simons’ voice. For a metal album, however, there’s precious little actual metal here – the guitars are almost an afterthought and interesting, memorable riffs are few and far between. The song writing is so formulaic that it isn’t long before every track begins to fade into the one before and after without anything substantial standing out. Simons’ vocals are impressive of course but Epica’s wall-of-sound production approach doesn’t let any particular aspect of their music to breathe, making for a seriously tiring and ultimately empty listening experience.

Epica can bring in every orchestral and operatic trick they have at their disposal, but it doesn’t count for much without memorable songs.

1. Eidola
2. Edge of the Blade
3. A Phatasmic Parade
4. Universal Death Squad
5. Divide and Conquer
6. Beyond the Matrix
7. Once Upon a Nightmare
8. The Cosmic Algorithm
9. Ascension – Dream State Armageddon
10. Dancing in a Hurricane
11. Tear Down Your Walls
12. The Holographic Principle – A Profound Understanding of Reality