In 2016 the always dependable Dutch symphonic metal group Epica release their most welcome seventh studio album The Holographic Principle. A concept album with a virtual reality theme, as the band continues on from the scientific influenced The Quantum Enigma. Produced by Joost van der Broek and mixed by Jacob Hansen ensuring that once again those fine performances have been given the treatment they deserve.
It's not uncommon for female fronted metal bands to change vocalists as we have seen many times, well thankfully that hasn't been the case with Epica and Simone Simons. Simone's vocals are one of the key attractions to all things Epica and she sounds truly amazing on this album, and once you add the choirs to the mix the results are outstanding. Epica have maintained a similar path over the years while we find other bands exploring different styles for which I have no complaints as they do it so well. Though this may be due to that fact that main man Mark Jansen started the symphonic death metal group MaYaN, which is an outlet for that heavier side and with much more emphasis on those darker vocals. Though with tracks like "The Cosmic Algorithm" and those hefty riffs Epica clearly haven't become less potent, if anything the band has ramped up that heaviness over the years. This is quite evident on The Holographic Principle which is a powerful/epic and melodic metal album with great use of choirs and orchestral arrangements, and it's all balanced perfectly.
It's so easy to get swept up in the dramatic orchestral introductory track "Eidola", and the following metallic groover "Edge Of The Blade" has some massive hooks as does the symphonic metal sensation that is "A Phantasmic Parade" featuring another dynamic performance from their talented drummer Arien van Weesenbeek. It's so cool how the band handles the clean and dark vocals for "Universal Death Squad" and those various tempo shifts, "Divide And Conquer" is one of The Holographic Principle's longer tracks, and once those chugging riffs and growls/clean vocals trade offs come into play the band sets off on another winner. "Beyond The Matrix" has such an uplifting vibe, commencing with a buoyant choir arrangement that the band further utilizes during it's duration, then it's time for Simone Simons to shine once again on the balladesque "Once Upon A Nightmare". Epica sure keeps that compelling metal going on "The Cosmic Algorithm" and "Ascension - Dream State Armageddon". There's also surprises like "Dancing In A Hurricane" with a strong ethnic influence it works a treat, and the metal barnstormer "Tear Down Your Walls" is sure to get heads banging. That leads us to the sweeping and enthralling finale of epic proportions as the band brings the album to a close impressively with "The Holographic Principle - A Profound Understanding Of Reality" and that interplay from keyboardist Coen Janssen, and guitarists Mark Jansen and Isaac Delahaye is so engaging.
The Holographic Principle is a stunning recording, I thought I had my album of the year locked in and then this came along and blew it away. It's been such a long time since I've enjoyed a new metal album so much. Sure Epica are a long time favourite of mine but is any wonder when they don't just rest on past accomplishments, Epica continues to outdo themselves with albums like The Holographic Principle
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2. Edge Of The Blade
3. A Phantasmic 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