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Epica - The divine conspiracy 4/5

Reviewed: 8-10-07


1. Indigo (prologue)
2. The obsessive devotion
3. Menace of vanity
4. Chasing the dragon
5. Never enough
6. La'petach chatat rovetz (The final embrace)
7. Death of a dream (The embrace that smothers - part Vll)
8. Living a lie (The embrace that smothers - part Vlll)
9. Fools of damnation (The embrace that smothers - part lX)
10. Beyond belief
11. Safeguard to paradise
12. Sancta terra
13. The divine conspiracy

The Netherlands native symphonic metal band, Epica, have returned after 2 years to bring us their 3rd full-length release, entitled ‘The divine conspiracy’. After hearing and enjoying their previous 2 CDs, I was eagerly awaiting their latest effort. And after listening to it I must say to you all, that you will need to be prepared for an absolute onslaught of dark symphonic speed metal to its highest degree.

Epica have completely pulled out all the stops on this CD. It is their most epic, speedy and emotionally charged bombastic effort of all their releases; and the most epic symphonic speed metal CD I have heard, possibly ever. All the tracks on the CD are just so emotional, whether it be the fast, epic and bombastic numbers or the soulful ballads. There are a lot of emotions thrown around during this CD, ranging from sadness, to anger, desperation and hope. But there is one major emotion which fuels this heavy release and that is, Epica is angry. They have a point to prove and boy, did they get my attention.

Accompanying the twin guitar attacks, heavy bass and the super fast double bass pummelling, are choirs and lots of them. Also there is an orchestra so epic, that it could feature on any ‘Lord of the rings’ type movie score. There is so much going on and so much to take in during all the tracks, that you just don’t get much time to digest it all, you just have to sit there and let it hit you over and over again.

Simone Simons’ vocals are quite outstanding on ‘The divine conspiracy’, as her unique vocals add further emotion to each track. I also must say that there are a lot of death metal passages, both musically and vocally, during the majority of the tracks on the CD. Mark Jansen does have a large roll in the vocal duties department; his rough and gruff vocals appear in almost every track, as well as death metal screams and wails in some of the tracks.

Epica lays it all out on the line of what to expect from the rest of the CD, with their 7-minute opener (after an intro build up), called “The obsessive devotion”. The song is one of the heaviest on the CD, and one of the most epic and bombastic also. The opener took me by complete surprise and blew me away at the same time. Epica have really improved since ‘Consign to oblivion’, particularly with their songwriting and creativity. There is not one dull or boring moment throughout this release, it is just “full on” the whole way through.

The 2nd track, “Menace of vanity”, is also very fast, epic and emotional; with an angry vibe all the way through it. The vocals are split down the middle with Simons’ soulful voice and Jensen’s death metal screams, and is another highlight on the CD. “Chasing the dragon” is, in my opinion, one of the best tracks on the CD. It starts out very slow and sombre, with Simons singing over acoustic guitars and keyboards. Soon enough, an orchestra can be heard, as well as the drums. But suddenly, the direction changes completely and the song becomes heavier and darker and gallops along to a supreme climax at the end. Just a fantastic song.

The 2nd best track on the CD would be “Sancta terra”, which is a little slower than the other songs, but it is quite heavy and uses a lot of down-tuned guitars, and heavy bass guitar. It has a very catchy and epic chorus; and Simons’ vocals are just brilliant on this track. Other song highlights on ‘The divine conspiracy’ include the 8-minute “Fools of damnation” and the final track which is also the title track, the 13-minute monster; “The divine conspiracy”.

All of the tracks on ‘The divine conspiracy’ are very good, particularly the ones I have mentioned. But with a couple of them, such as “Death of a dream”, they have so much going on during the song, that it is difficult to process and digest. It’s like they have gone a little over the top, with a heap of things coming at you from every angle the whole way through. It may be a small gripe, but it can stop someone from completely enjoying the song.

With all that said, I must say that ‘The divine conspiracy’ is Epica’s opus and by far their best release of the 3. There are a lot of different metal genres used throughout the CD, so it will appeal to quite a lot of people. Anyone who is a fan of symphonic metal, speed metal, dark gothic metal, epic power metal or even death/black metal; you will enjoy this CD.

Epica have certainly raised the bar in the symphonic metal genre, as well as taking speed metal and power metal with them. This is indeed an excellent CD and a complete indulgence of your ears and emotions. Great effort!




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