Epica - Consign to oblivion 3/5

Reviewed: 7-29-05


1. Hunab ku (a new dawns prologue)
2. Dance of fate
3. The last crusade (a new age dawns part 1)
4. Solitary ground
5. Blank infinity
6. Force of the shore
7. Quietus
8. Mother of light (a new age dawns part 2)
9. Trois vierges
10. Another me "in lack eh"
11. Consign to oblivion (a new age dawns part 3)

After much success with their debut 'The phantom agony' (considered by many to be a masterpiece), Epica finally releases their 2nd CD 'Consign to oblivion'. Just like Within Temptation, Epica seems to be moving away from the gothic metal style into pure symphonic metal. The rough/deep vocals (the "beast") we heard a lot of on their debut is present on just 3 songs ("Force of the shore", "Mother of light" and "Consign to oblivion") with this CD. This puts a lot of pressure on Simone Simons (the "beauty") to really shine, and she certainly does. She sounds great, and is definitely one of the better female vocalists in the style. The symphonic arrangements are again very powerful, so the band remains comparable to and competitive with bands like After Forever, Within Temptation (mentioned), Nemesea, Nightwish (especially their CD 'Once'), and possibly Visions of Atlantis. Although, Epica definitely has a more powerful and epic sound than Visions of Atlantis.

My favorite songs are the very symphonic track 2 "Dance of fate" (which follows the prologue "Hunab ku"), a song that really starts out the CD strong, and the highly epic track 3 "The last crusade". I also like the slow track 4 "Solitary ground", where Simone's vocal melodies are absolutely mesmerizing. However, after this fantastic beginning, the CD begins to become a little uninteresting. Track 5 "Blank infinity" and up to track 8 "Mother of light" don't grab me like the earlier songs and the slow track 9 "Trois vierges", while decent, doesn't even compare to the mentioned slow song "Solitary ground", or the beautiful "Feint" from 'The phantom agony'. Although, that is one of the best slow songs ever by a female vocalist, so asking the band to match the quality of that song may be a bit much. The CD finishes with the lengthy yet very good "Consign to oblivion", but there are definitely some songs that aren't anything too special (though still good) and really don't leave me any big reason for many repeated listens.

So there are a few highlights, Simone's voice is excellent and the production is of great quality, but many of us have been eagerly waiting to see what type of effort Epica will bring us, and while I feel the effort is strong, I think the end product won't live up to the hopeful expectations of some. Better and more memorable songwriting is definitley needed, and I've found the CD severly lacks guitar solos. In fact, I don't recall even one! This may sound old fashioned, but I believe the CD would be a bit more memorable if there were some guitar solos occasionally highlighting songs. I think this is a big reason why I greatly prefer the Nemesea debut to this, as I continuely return to 'Mana' (which has an outstanding instrumental!). I still feel this is a good follow-up to the band's much acclaimed debut, but I can't help but throw out some complaints with this release.




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