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Epica - Attack On Titan

Epica
Attack On Titan
by Justin "Witty City" Wittenmeier at 23 July 2018, 1:43 AM

Netherlands’ Symphonic Metal band EPICA have been extremely busy over the last few years.  In addition to world tours, they have been prolific in the studio.  2016 brought their well-received full length “The Holographic Principle,” to the masses and the following year an EP called “The Solace System,” was released, containing six tracks that couldn’t fit onto the previous album. Although released in late 2017 in Japan only, their newest album “Attack On Titan,” was recently released to the rest of the world. This EP is unique because it is actually covers of songs featured in the anime “Attack On Titan.”  Rather than do straight covers, the band “epicified” them and rewrote them as Symphonic Metal songs.  Despite the origins of the songs, EPICA’s trademark sound remains intact.  Real choirs, a symphony, death growls, and, of course, Simone’s soaring vocals are all here.

The EP features eight songs but the last four tracks are instrumental versions of the others.  They are nice but the choir vocals are still present in them so they aren’t true instrumentals.  Still, it is a bonus so it is hard to complain.  It also allows the instruments to shine through more since they can easily be lost among everything that goes on within the other songs.The star of the EP would have to be Simone.  Over the years, she has cut back on usages of her operatic voice, opting for a more fluid and traditional, sometimes more poppy, register.  She is in full form on this EP, displaying a nice, clean, full voice that is energetic and bountiful; it is obvious she had a lot of fun recording these tracks. I’m not a fan of anime and have only seen on episode of this series so I can’t really speak to how EPICA’s versions hold up to the originals or if they capture the spirit of the show.  With that said, you don’t have to know anything about the source material to enjoy this little album; I like these four songs as much as anything they have done.

The first track, “Crimson Bow and Arrow,” is a quick, high energy song that jumps from one segment to another seemliness.  There is a lot going on in this song but it never feels too cluttered or pieced together. Mark and Issac’s solids riffs are in full form, revealing that despite the band’s bells and whistles, behind them lies a competent Metal band. I really liked how the choirs and the guitars work so well together, especially in the moments after the chorus and during the second verse where Mark once again shows off his death growls.  They aren’t as deep or brutal as the ones that would be featured in an actual Death Metal band but his performance definitely gives the band a harder edge than most other female front Symphonic Metal bands. Coen’s keyboards do shine through the constant use of the symphony and choirs.  He definitely adds a lot to these songs and without him, certain parts wouldn’t be anywhere near as effective.

The second track, “Wings of Freedom,” immediately opens with a huge chorus of people singing before going into a thrash inspired groove riff.  Within just twenty seven seconds, EPICA have everything flowing so fast that there isn’t any way to stop your heart from pumping fast to the rhythm. The chorus here is the best on the EP, evoking the glory days of Power Metal and the power of Simone’s vocals.  She is without a doubt one of the best clean vocalists in Metal and she really gives her all for these four tracks. The third track, “If Inside These Walls Was A Home,” is a ballad, something that EPICA is no stranger of.  I always enjoy their ballads because of the focus on Simone’s vocals, and the aspect that even with the Metal turned down, she can still bring a huge wall of atmospheric sound band and carry them forward. About halfway through, Issac delivers an emotional solo before the rest of the band comes in.  Rob’s bass compliments their thunderous rhythm section well and his playing definitely goes a long way in making their sound as heavy and dense as it is.

The final track is “Dedicate Your Heart.”  Despite being the last one, it is the centerpiece of the album and throws in all the elements of the previous three tracks. The chorus is heavily present in this one and adds a full, epic, sound to the track.  The riffs and drumming are a constant force of power that lifts the whole band up.  More so than other Symphonic bands, EPICA never forgets they are first and foremost a Metal band and it is this line of thinking that really keeps EPICA interesting and different from their peers.  Arien alone is a Metal band by himself; he is often referred to as “The Beast,” and it is easy to see why.  His drums are hard hitting, intense yet so focused; he easily has the ability to rival in the most brutal of Death Metal drummers. If you are a fan of EPICA, especially of their more recent output, there isn’t any reason why you wouldn’t enjoy this album.

Songwriting: 8
Originality: 8
Memorability: 9
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Crimson Bow & Arrow
2. Wings of Freedom
3. If Inside These Walls Was A House
4. Dedicate Your Heart
5. Crimson Bow & Arrow (Instrumental)
6. Wings of Freedom (Instrumental)
7. If Inside These Walls Was A House (Instrumental)
8. Dedicate Your Heart (Instrumental)
Lineup:
Simone Simmons – Lead Vocals
Mark Jansen – Guitar, Death Vocals
Isaac Delahaye – Guitar
Rob van der Loo – Bass
Coen Janssen – Keyboards
Arien van Weesenbeek – Drums
Record Label: Nuclear Blast
     


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Edited 17 August 2018
 

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