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Epica - Design Your Universe (CD)

Design Your Universe
by Dimitris Karametros at 15 November 2009, 9:48 AM

I know I delayed this review a bit, but each time I heard the album over and over again I was thinking of verbal ways to create the in your face! effect so I could pass to the reader the power of this album immediately upon reading just a few lines. Let's try.
Nothing prepares you for this foul face epic symphonic Metal blast from the new album of EPICA. You get a hint from the otherworldly opening Samahadi but, no, it is not enough; Resign To Surrender enters and you get blasted off your comfy seats, beds, swings or wherever you first listen to the album. A strange and insane game begins to play inside your ears and mind; you participate in a vocal duel between the angelic voice of Simone and the hellish growls of Mark, a lovers' play from hell with majestic symphonic reprises to calm you down, but - although being perfect - the symphonic parts fail to bring calmness (in a good way). The coming of Isaac Delahaye brings a guitar storm with it featuring intense Death/Thrash riffs that pump the adrenalin to dangerous levels and perfectly executed solos (Martyr Of The Free Word can prove that).
Design Your Universe is not just a simple improvement of Epica, it's much more than that, the songs are so well crafted lyrical and musical that bind perfect together and create a magnum opus, EPICA's magnum opus. The crown of this creation is the thirteen-and-a-half-minutes long Kingdom Of Heaven, an impressive track that could overshadow all the other songs if they weren't as intense. Simone's voice seems more mature than ever combining her mezzo - soprano abilities with clear alto outbreaks. As I've written above the vocal game with Mark is intensified, here it's more aggressive and grand tilting the balance seen in former albums once towards Simone and once towards Mark.

With two ex-members of GOD DETHRONED one can expect the influence to be evident. It is the progressive part that becomes more present as it is a heavier, more brutal sound, with guitars dangerously close to Thrash and drums heavily bombarding continually in every track. There are subtle Gothic elements coming from both the keys and the choir but Design Your Universe is a masterful progressive/symphonic Metal album. The production is immaculate; there is no other way to describe it.

Just go and get it, even the ones held back by the notion of female fronted Metal should check it out; fans of the Epic genre must run it's probably the most Epic album of the year…wait…it IS the most Epic album of the year in all regards.

4 Star Rating

Samahadi  (Prelude)
Resign To Surrender (A New Age Dawns - Part IV)
Martyr Of The Free Word
Our Destiny
Kingdom Of Heaven (A New Age Dawns - Part V)
The Price Of Freedom (Interlude)
Burn To A Cinder
Tides Of Time
Semblance Of Liberty
White Waters
Design Your Universe (A New Age Dawns - Part VI)
Simone Simons - Vocals
Mark Jansen - Rhythm Guitar, Grunts, Screams
Isaac Delahaye - Lead Guitar
Yves Huts - Bass Guitar
Coen Janssen - Synthesizer, Piano
Arien Van Weesenbeek - Drums, Grunts, Spoken Word
Record Label: Nuclear Blast Records


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