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Epica - The Alchemy Project Award winner

The Alchemy Project
by Kevin Lewis at 10 December 2022, 4:02 AM

EPICA is, simply stated, one of the most creative bands in the world of music, not just metal. Blending Symphonic Metal with Progressive, Power, and Cinematic Metal, they have now decided to do a collaborative EP with a variety of bands/musicians. The result? An epic record with seven songs that are EPICA+. The Alchemy Project was released on November 11, 2022, via Atomic Fire Records.

You hear the direct influence of the other personnel, fused into the music in a way that is not often done. This is not EPICA featuring a guest, that is too reductive a term for the project. “The Great Tribulation” opens with epic chanting and powerful symphonic elements that you immediately associate with EPICA, then the phrasing shifts and you hear the FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE come screaming through. The guitar work is stunning and the orchestration is intense. The song has more brutality to it than typical EPICA.

With “Wake The World,” we hear the Classic Rock influence on the keyboards and the difference overall tone of the song from the first notes. You have clean male vocals from Tommy Karevik and completely different key/synth tones from Phil Lanzon. The song is like nothing EPICA has ever done, yet it is still recognizable from Simone’s vocals and the general feel of the song. As a “new” style, this is the most dramatic shift on the record, and easily one of the seven top songs on the disc (don’t make me choose a favorite).

The lead guitar work on “The Final Lullaby” is so good. The rhythm feels a little less EPICA, a little more outside influence, SHINING in this case. The groove is really good and the rhythm completely rocks. It is a bit less Symphonic and more keyboard oriented, plus it has a saxophone solo, which is killer to hear!

I don’t know if I have words for the next track. “Sirens – Of BloodAnd Water” has three stunning voices that do singular, duo, trio, and a variety of harmonies which are beyond much of anything you will hear anywhere else. Simone Simons, Charlotte Wessels, and MYRKUR all singing together is more than just Heavenly. Three amazing voices coming together like this is sonic bliss. The song is also excellent. The composition rocks, and the tone is incredible with those voices. This song is everything and more.

SOILWORK’s Bjorn Strid and Frank Schiphorst of MAYAN bring the next song, “Death Is Not The End” to life. The rhythm is a fast-paced, galloping monster with sone killer melodic sections within it. Simone ends up spending more time in the Backing vocal position, harmonizing with her cohorts. The strings woven through this one are most excellent, lifting the tone to a brighter timbre on occasion, contrasting well within the song.

Human Devastation” is the heaviest song EPICA has done. The blast beats on drums are so fast, so insane that the quick guitar lead before the second verse seems slow. The rhythm is punishing, brutal, relentless, and so much fun. Lots of really harsh vocals, even rougher than most of the Mark Jansen growls EPICA is known for. At just under three minutes, I think the volume of notes is still the highest on the disc.

The conclusion to this oddity of brilliance EPICA decided to gift the world is, “The Miner,” a seven-minute song with three male voices and Simone. Whether they are going out front or harmonizing with her, there is just a tonal quality to the whole thing that is amazing. Clean male vocals again, which is not a standard for EPICA, but sounds really good, adding more depth to the tone of the record. The melody on this one is so beautiful. The bridge, though heavier, still fits into the texture of the song. The fade out with the choir is the perfect ending.

EPICA has stepped out of their comfort zone with this and absolutely smashed it! There is nothing this band is incapable of, from gentle, melodic ballads to extreme metal, everything they do is just stunning. When they decide to collaborate with friends, it is not just a quick guest vocal in a song written for someone else’s voice, it is a blending of the minds, giving us something more than just EPICA featuring (insert name). This is EPICA+, and it is more than we deserve.

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 10

5 Star Rating

1. The Great Tribulation: Fleshgod Apocalypse
2. Wake the World: Phil Lanzon (Uriah Heep) & Tommy Karevik (Kamelot)
3. The Final Lullaby: Shining
4. Sirens - Of Blood and Water: Charlotte Wessels & Myrkur
5. Death is not the End: Frank Schiphorst (MaYaN) & Björn "Speed" Strid (Soilwork)
6. Human Devastation: Henri Sattler (God Dethroned), Sven de Caluwé (Aborted)
7. The Miner: Asim Searah (Damnation Plan), Niilo Sevänen (Insomnium), Roel van Helden (Powerwolf)
Simone Simons – Vocals
Rob Van Der Loo – Bass
Ariën Van Weesenbeek – Drums
Mark Jansen – Rhythm Guitar/Grunts
Isaac Delahaye – Guitar
Coen Janssen – Synth/Piano
Record Label: Atomic Fire Records


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