EPICA: The Holographic Principle

EPICA: The Holographic Principle
Release date: 30 Sep 2016
Genre: symphonic metal
Label: Nuclear Blast
Rating: 3/5

The Holographic Principle, the seventh studio album by the Dutch symphonic metal band Epica, delves into the interesting and complex theme of reality and the question whether we actually exist or whether we are merely a projection. However, Epica do not offer their own solution to the concept but rather draw inspiration directly from films like The Matrix, Inception, Terminator etc.

epicaholographiccdofficialTrack listing:
1. Eidola
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

 

As expected, this album is darker than its predecessors due to its theme, but from a musical perspective the final result sounds (too) polished, bombastic, and, in absence of a better term, somewhat gentle. It’s almost as if I’m listening to a soundtrack of a Disney cartoon starring Simone Simons.
As for the lyrics themselves, they break away here and there in songs that differ from the main concept of a futuristic world ruled by artificial intelligence by returning the listener to the present with topics such as the refugee crisis which has divided the Western world (e.g. Dancing In The Hurricane”).

Listeners are introduced to this concept world by the dreamy instrumental Eidola whose opening melodies are reminiscent of Disney. The whole album continues in this dreamy Disney-like tone with occasional bursts of proper metal where the guitars and Jansen’s growl come a bit closer to the fore as in Edge Of Blade”, “Beyond The Matrix and The Cosmic Algorithm”.
Simone is absolutely in the forefront and easily interprets each song because her vocals are full of artistic warmth and emotion. However, a touch of uncertainty is felt in her high notes, especially in Universal Death Squad which she ends off in a semi-falsetto, and judging by their previous work it seems to me that this was unintentional.
I’d say her best song is Once Upon A Nightmare for which she wrote the text, and in fact it’s the only song on the album for which I can say – yes, that’s her, that’s Simone’s voice.

The Holographic Principle is unfortunately not very kind to the rest of the band, since they seldom come to the fore. There are several moments where Delahaye’s guitar takes charge and rises to the surface above the symphonic elements and the choir, as well as the aforementioned growls.

The album certainly has its advantages: it’s easily listenable, it’s neither blatant nor pretentious although some of its song titles might suggest this (e.g. “The Holographic Principle – A Profound Understanding Of Reality”), its melodies are memorable and convey atmosphere and emotions, thus elaborating the album theme in a way that is characteristic of Epica.

I’m not sure whether this is their best album thus far, but I can safely say that it’s one of those albums that influence a band’s future career.

Review: Martina Šestić | martina@venia-mag.net
English translation: Zorana Stanko

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