Release DetailsLABEL Transmission Records
RELEASED ON 6/2/2003
The Phantom Agony
posted on 6/2004 By:
When guitarist Mark Jansen departed from After Forever, he was still hungry to make music, and instead of taking this opportunity to expand his musical horizons, he decided to form a band cut from the same cloth as his prior gig. The Dutch band Epica play a safe form of Gothic metal, with lush keyboards, chord-laden guitarwork, and the occasional growl, all of which are used to accentuate the powerful, operatic voice of Simone Simons. For a 19-year-old, she has a dynamic set of pipes, and a firm grasp of classical theory that belies her young age. The collective output is, as you’d expect…”epic”, with numerous instances of soothing lulls gradually building to crescendos. Unfortunately, this sounds all too much like another band that I’ve mentioned already. Perhaps, Jansen subconsciously strove to top After Forever at their own game. Originality issues aside, for the style they play, Epica is certainly in the top tier.
Without a lyric sheet, I can’t be exactly sure about the subject matter of their lyrics, but one song (“Facade of Reality”) contains a sample from a Tony Blair speech regarding 9/11. One of the better intros I’ve heard in awhile leads into a nifty keyboard melody that kicks off “Sensorium”. The single “Feint” is a bit of a strange choice, as it starts off light, and never really takes off. On the other hand, the next track “Illusive Consensus” turns up the metal, taking on more of a Nightwish resemblance. The last track of note is the title track, which is as bombastic and ambitious as you’d expect. No issues with the production, it’s near-mint.
While I would’ve liked to see this album somewhat heavier and with more of an edge, the smooth, polished approach does work for this band. I’m scratching my head to come up with more to say about The Phantom Agony, but all I keep thinking is that this would make a fine After Forever album. I realize this is a debut album though, so I hope that Mark and the gang branch out more on the next release, as they’ve got plenty of potential and talent. For the Gothic listener or the lover of operatic metal, Epica will make a fine addition to the collection.
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