Epysode - Fantasmagoria 4.5/5

Reviewed: 11-1-13





Tracklist:

1. File 4180-2
2. The arch
3. Morning rose
4. Venom
5. The black parade
6. T.H.O.R.N.S
7. Garden of exile
8. Raven’s curse
9. Living fortress
10. Fantasmagoria
11. The inheritance
12. Now and forever
13. Forgotten symphony
14. Unreal


For those who have not yet heard of Epysode, then you are in for a real treat; as this band has produced 2 mammoth releases since forming in 2011. Epysode is a Belgian melodic progressive/power metal band, with the brainchild of the group being guitarist Samuel Arkan (Virus IV). Epysode is a metal opera of sorts, similar to other projects like Avantasia and Soulspell; but also different in its own way.

On the debut, ‘Obsessions’, Arkan surrounded himself with a conglomerate of metal talent, both with musicians and vocalists. The musicians consisted of bassist Kristoffer Gildenlöw (The Shadow Theory/ex-Pain of Salvation), keyboardist Julien Spreutels (Ethernity), drummer Léo Margarit (Pain of Salvation) and guitarist Christophe Godin. On the latest CD entitled ‘Fantasmagoria’, only Margarit and Spreutels have returned, while Arkan has invited bassist Mike LePond (Symphony X/ex-Seven Witches) and guitarist Simone Mularoni (DGM/Empyrios) into the fold.

The talent pool of vocalists is just as impressive, where ‘Obsessions’ consisted of Rick Altzi (At Vance/Frequency/Masterplan/Herman Frank/ex-Thunderstone), Kelly “Sundown” Carpenter (Firewind/Adagio/ex-Beyond Twilight/ex-Outworld), Oddleif Stensland (Communic), female vocalists Magali Luyten (Beautiful Sin/Frameshift) and also Liselotte Hegt. Not to be outdone, Arkan has produced another 5 different vocalists for the new release, which includes Tom Englund (Evergrey), Henning Basse (Mayan/ex-Metalium/ex-Sons of Seasons), Matt Marinelli (Borealis) and female vocalists Ida Haukland (Triosphere) and Tezzi Persson. If that is not enough to entice your interest in this band, then I don’t know what will.

With the melodic progressive/power metal tag attached to the project, Epysode would greatly appeal to fans of bands like Ayreon, Star One, Evergrey, Kamelot, Prototype, Avantasia, Sons of Seasons, Symphony X, Adagio, Cloudscape and Pain of Salvation. Both CDs are absolutely sensational, with the musicians and vocalists working together in such a mesmerising way, it brings out the strengths in all involved.

Both ‘Obsessions’ and ‘Fantasmagoria’ are concept albums, one following on from the other which are quite emotional and dark at the same time, with plenty of detail and flair to boot. Both releases were also mixed and mastered by Jacob Hansen, who has previously worked with bands such as Pretty Maids, Anubis Gate and Divided Multitude; has now done a top-notch effort here with Epysode.

Concentrating now more on ‘Fantasmagoria’, which almost (for the first time) got a 5/5 from me, but I have decided on 4.5/5 only because I feel that the CD had one or 2 too many songs, with the 14-track disc (one intro and one interlude) clocking in at just under 63 minutes. My own personal opinion of course, however fans of the group will absolutely relish the supreme songwriting that has been crafted into this CD. Creative, bold, bombastic, aggressive, passionate and atmospheric are words that are just the tip of the iceberg when describing this masterpiece; and I do mean that in the true sense of the word.

Tom Englund has quite a large role in ‘Fantasmagoria’ and for fans of Evergrey; you will not be disappointed with Englund’s standout performance on this CD. All 5 vocalists mesh together extremely well, delivering combinations of all, whether it is 2 or 3 vocalists on each track, mixing it up musically to bring out the best of their abilities. You may expect the songs to be quite long in length considering the style of metal this is, however the longest track is 6:49 (that being the emotional semi-ballad and title track “Fantasmagoria”). On average, the tracks clock in at around 4:30 and range from speedy double-bass pummeling aggressive beauties, to ballad-esque to mid-paced tracks with powerful and catchy melodies, prominent bass and just the right amount of keys/synths and orchestral elements.

Although I feel (as I mentioned earlier) that there are one or 2 too many tracks on the CD, as there is a lot to take in and could be overwhelming at the back 9 of the CD, I must say that the tracks on ‘Fantasmagoria’ are exceptional. I won’t mention any of them in detail here; as that will completely spoil the surprise of when you hear it for the first time.

My hat goes off to Samuel Arkan, who is an absolute musical genius, not only to be able to create 2 wonderful CDs, but also for knowing inside and out the people he wanted for these concept albums; their strengths, how well they work with others and where to place them and when depending on the music building up around them. Arkan is truly a magnificent musical mind and songwriter.

Fans of the bands mentioned earlier must be drooling by now, as Epysode should be exactly what you are in to, while fans of both progressive/power and melodic power metal will also find this band most definitely worth your time and interest. You will not be disappointed in any way, shape or form; and don’t be surprised if you see ‘Fantasmagoria’ in a lot of metal reviewer’s top 5 at the end of 2013.



SEAN




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