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 DYU Reviews (metal-archives.com)

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Favorite Epica song : Kingdom of Heaven
Consign to Oblivion
Chasing the Dragon

PostSubject: DYU Reviews (metal-archives.com)   Sun Jan 03, 2010 3:50 am

As the link that leads to the certain page doesn't work I will just copy and paste the reviews:

I wish I could live in this universe - 90%
Written by Twistedeyes on November 8th, 2009

After an A grade live album release earlier in the year titled "The Classical Conspiracy" people were wondering if they would be able to top this great live release featuring a 60 piece orchestra and 30 piece choir as well as their soundtrack and 3 other great studio albums. With this release it seems that they have released a very worthy follow-up.

Now you may ask how does this album sound any different than Epica's previous since a lot of bands in the symphonic metal genre seemingly keep the one sound for their entire discography? Well ever since the departure of former Epica drummer Jeroen Simons there has drastic increase in the heaviness of each album. "The Divine Conspiracy" marked the beginning of this increase and the acquirement of ex God Dethroned guitarist Isaac Delahaye for "Design Your Universe" only contributed more to the factor.

You still have your awe-inspiring choirs and orchestras that gel together flawlessly with the band but something feels different. "Design Your Universe" feels completely different than any other Epica album, to me it is an album I would listen to when I feel in the mood for one of the heavier metal sub genres e.g thrash/death metal as some of the songs come very close to the heaviness. I think the main song writer Mark Jansen and Isaac have taken a strongly God Dethroned inspired guitar tone and used it well. You will notice the difference straight away after the excellent orchestral prelude "Samadhi" on the incredibly strong opening track "Resign To Surrender". Epica previously only had utilized one solo before on the track "Beyond Belief" but in this album there are several ranging from good to great contributed by Isaac with a shredding melodic death metal sound.

As for the other members they have evolved as well. Lead vocalist Simone Simons angelic vocals sounding better ever before, truly showing what she can do in "Tides of Time", an emotional ballad dedicated to the passing of Mark's grandmother. It was a bit of a shame that Simone's normal singing voice is used much more than her incredible soprano voice, this voice is used rarely in the album, really only being evident in the last chorus of "Unleashed" and sections of "Tides of Time". The harsh/growl vocals by both Mark and Arien sound better than previous efforts, there is never a spot where it seems inappropriate or illegible. Yves Huts bass is easier to hear, check out "White Waters" which also features a guest appearance by Tony Kakko of Sonata Arctica fame and you will see what I mean. Coen Janssen keyboard ability is top notch for the whole of the album but the outro to the title track is one of the many moments to get shivers over.

The most single biggest improvement over Epica's other studio albums is the drumming. Ariën Weesenbeek was the session drummer for "The Divine Conspiracy" but as a session drummer he wasn't able to use all of his skill just in case if he decided not to continue with the band then a replacement could replicate his drum patterns without too much of a problem. Now since Arien is a full time member of Epica he is being used properly. Arien is quite capable at drumming at lower tempos but really shines at fast speed drum fills, blast beats and lightning fast double kick, an example would be the first half of "Kingdom of Heaven" that has the inclusion of a weird samba drum beat, something that is really out of Arien's comfort zone.

There are some minor hiccups about this album but they really shouldn't detract very much from the listening experience. The interlude "The Price of Freedom" is pointless, it really doesn't contribute to the album's strengths at all, this is exactly what the skip button is invented for. Some bits of the album were used and repeated a bit too often for my liking e.g. the chorus of the title track, they still sounded great but upon hearing them several times within a short period of time can slightly lower your interest and listening pleasure.

If you are remotely a fan of the symphonic, thrash or death metal genres I would highly suggest this album. "Design Your Universe" provides a great variety and contrast of metal sub genres that are executed with such skill and class that it is nearly beyond comprehension what this group of musicians that have done considering they have only been active a relatively short period of 6 years. I can only imagine what great things Epica can and most likely will do in the future.


A New Age Continues - 95%
Written by Sue on November 6th, 2009

It would have a 100% if not for Obama and Bush talking through the interlude.

After their phenomenal debut, Epica released "Consign to Oblivion" which kept up the highest quality in symphonic metal while offering a darker, more gothic sound. With Divine Conspiracy they grew lighter again, catchier to the point of Andrew Lloyd Weber style rhymes and melodies. Now, with Design Your Universe, they return to the darkness and sharpen their sound for a more technical, powerful album. It's exactly what I love about Epica.

From the Prelude we can hear that Consign to Oblivion sound. Rather than the gloomy, sad openers of Phantom and Divine, this album opens, like Consign, with a light symphony version of the leitmotif that will resurface at the end of the disc. Then right of the bat we're treated to some of Epica's fastest, most complex music to date. Kingdom of Heaven clocks in at over 13 minutes and far surpasses the recent Nightwish or Opeth tracks of similar length in power, emotion, melody and complexity. It's followed by an average interlude of no particular value with political connotations the album doesn't need.

But then we're back to form with five wild tracks, including one of Epica's hardest and two soft melodic songs which retain the quality and musical wit of classical symphony. Then on its final track, the album hits it's highest note: The title track is just about the coolest thing this band has ever released. It's the culmination of every lyrical and melodic theme on the album, and the ultimate expression of the band's unique sound.
Every player and every singer is on top form here, the production is flawless but not soulless, the music is catchy but never hokey, melodic but hard as hell, wild but articulate and even restrained. It is Epica's most complex work to date, but every second of it is accessible, instantly appreciable. Highly recommended for any Epica fan, recommended too for new fans who can enjoy an all out master work on first listen.


Everything I dislike about modern metal music - 30%
Written by autothrall on October 22nd, 2009

Epica is a Dutch band which represents almost everything I dislike about modern metal music. Formed around 2003 when fairy metal bands like Nightwish, After Forever and Within Temptation were really starting to take off, they were born into a trendy sound, and have only grown worse with subsequent albums. Of course, this translates into a huge success within the confused, fairweather crop of Euro gothic metal fans who need the perfect soundtrack for their Harry Potter coloring books. Design Your Universe, the the band's 5th album, was a struggle to listen through.

Perhaps the biggest stumbling block here is that the band tries far too much. In addition to all the pompous symphonic elements on the album, they also incorporate 'extreme' metal in the form of guttural gothic male vocals (ala early Theater of Tragedy) and even some more blackish metal parts, as well as a mix of power and groove metal aspects which fail to 'round out' the album. Simone Simons is a practised singer (I thought her duet with Primal Fear's Ralf Scheepers was fairly catchy), but I find her very safe, operatic vocals to be a better match for the Little Mermaid III direct-to-video soundtrack, or perhaps an audition with American Idol, which she could probably win. Don't believe me? Listen to "Tides of Time". As if this weren't enough reasons to vomit, Design Your Universe is a concept album which spews forth all manner of politically correct nonsense, including an awful cliche'd sample of George Bush's 'no taxes'. Preachy much? The lyrics are fucking heinous, like the musings of some 8th grade hippie after reading some revisionist social studies textbook:

"Don't force me to believe
We're caught up in the greed
'Cause I just care for me
To break it, we'll need everyone
Think it through: unite is the only way"

Let's all hold hands together! Kum bay ah, my lord. Kum bay ah.

The real tragedy of this album is that certain individual parts of the band hold up well on their own. Guitarists Isaac Delahaye and Mark Jensen are both talented, at times explosive. Listen to tracks like "Martyr of the Free World" or "Semblance of Liberty" and you'll hear the potential these guys might have in a more straight-forward thrash/power metal band. Simons' voice isn't quite as operatic as Tarja Turunen (ex-Nightwish), but it could serve her well in a great many contexts (some of which I listed above). The production on the album is radio ready like most of the band's peers, and though they are aimless and generally go nowhere (like the endless bore "Kingdom of Heaven"), the symphonic parts will probably appeal to fans of other bands like Nightwish or later Rhapsody. The band also looks pretty in pictures!

"I will say what i think
I will do what i say
When liberty seems out of reach
We'll fight for our freedom of speech"

Epica is basically metal music for people who don't like real metal music; people who want a sampling of all its cheeses, like the girl standing outside the deli at your local supermarket with a tray of free goodies. It operates within a premise of safe ideology and good cheer, so you never have to feel guilty that it's challenging you when you listen to it in between watching your favorite programmes on the Lifetime network. If you exist in a world where Dragonforce, Nightwish and Dethklok remain supreme as the best bands you've ever discovered on Youtube (or from that cute girl in English class with the Jack Skellington t-shirt and pink and black-dyed extensions), then Epica will probably tickle you in all the right places. If you exist outside that world, we should grab a beer together and let the kids have fun on their rides.

-autothrall
http://www.fromthedustreturned.com


The best Jansen project yet - 92%
Written by joncheetham88 on October 16th, 2009

Mark Jansen has, mostly, been reliable in creating albums that surpass the scene they are released into and the expectations of his followers. When Consign To Oblivion came out however, I was really disappointed. Not that, in itself, it wasn't a great album, it was just way too mainstream compared to the exotic, mystical grandeur of Epica's debut, with simple song structures and, of course, drastically reduced use of harsh vocals. Then, the band seemingly realized they did not want to join Theatre Of Tragedy, Sirenia and, more recently, Delain in being bands that created great female-fronted metal welcomed by both fans and critics before falling almost immediately into a huge, career-destroying slump: instead they recorded The Divine Conspiracy. That record suggested Epica were not just the offshoot of After Forever. To prove that it wasn't just an experiment or a fluke, the following LP needed to cement Epica's place as a respectable band.

Epica now has among their ranks two previous members of the Blackened Death Metal outfit God Dethroned, the first being drummer Ariën Van Weesenbeek who has been in Epica since 2007, and the most recent addition to the band, Isaac Delahaye, who shared axe duties with Henri Sattler for God Dethroned albums The Lair Of The White Worm and The Toxic Touch. Although these were not among the best albums of that band, Delahaye has clearly learned a lot from his tenure in God Dethroned. Elements of the guitars used on Design Your Universe are strongly reminiscent of tracks on the The Lair Of The White Worm and even Into The Lungs Of Hell in the more aggressive moments. Ariën Van Weesenbeek puts in an excellent performance again, and carries much of the responsibility for giving this and the previous album a far more 'metal' feel than the two before.

Martyr Of The Free World displays some of the fresh ideas at work, combining the aesthetics and pace of Gothenburg Death Metal (the shadow of which also hangs over the first half of Semblance Of Liberty, a track which, frankly, makes Dimmu Borgir look like idiots) with Gregorian choirs; Simone handles verses and pre-choruses while Mark takes the choruses, reversing an established tradition of harsh/ clean vocal interplay.

About five and a half minutes into Kingdom Of Heaven, something sounding very much like Behemoth's recent tracks He Who Breeds Pestilence or Alas, The Lord Is Upon Me starts, with groaning Black Metal chords giving the song a suddenly dark atmosphere. Obviously this particular sound far predates 2009, but Behemoth is the example at the front of my mind at the moment. What they might have been thinking when they decided to extend their Black Metal quota to more than just rasping and blastbeats, and use some truly Old School sounding chords, I really don't know but it is completely awesome. There are also occasional similarities to Invisible Circles by After Forever (somber choirs providing the impetus of the few tracks they feature in rather than being an extra layer; innovative vocal lines by Simone that test the different ranges of her voice) are felt more strongly than before, ironic considering that was After Forever's first full-length without Jansen.

Much like the Hard Rock giants of the '70s such as Rainbow, Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin, Symphonic Metal bands have often been judged by their epics. The best example is Therion, who have Via Nocturna, The Wondrous World Of Punt and Adulruna Rediviva to their name. Epica's epics (the title tracks of all previous albums, essentially) have had more in common with Therion than, say, Ghost Love Score by Nightwish or White Pearl, Black Oceans by Sonata Arctica. This is also where the Progressive influences begin to emerge most strongly, with Kingdom Of Heaven including everything from a bluesy guitar solo to acoustic breaks and a dramatic piece of theatre between Mark Jansen and another male voice towards the end. The Prog elements suggested by the abstract cover art chosen (starkly contrasting to the elaborate mystical designs previously used) and the avant-garde title come through in the challenging nature of much of the music here. The band have developed their epic, symphonic pedigree with each subsequent album, and although the title track of the Phantom Agony was an impressive dichotomy of Power Metal melodies and Operatic vocal performance, Kingdom Of Heaven and Design Your Universe's title track far surpasses it in terms of composition and sophistication. The band is careful not to simply reiterate The Divine Conspiracy's fourteen minute closer and its artful summing up of that album, but include in both of these tracks moments that leave you with a memory of each track's musical qualities instead of simply their length - for example, Simone's fragile last notes at the end of the title track, which are simply sung across a tender piano into the ending silence. Kingdom Of Heaven is arguably the more interesting of the two, featuring the most Progressive arrangements and with not a boring moment in its almost 14-minute runtime, but the slightly shorter, less eclectic closer is by far the best song for me. It features a truly cinematic chanted chorus, very pretty acoustic guitar sections, and best of all, it ends with the orchestral outro of The Phantom Agony's title track, replayed by this album's orchestra with the rest of the band. If you have followed the band since 2003, this will make your day, and it shows a great deal of respect for their fans that Epica bring their latest album full circle so elegantly.

It wouldn't be an Epica album without some essential inclusions on the tracklist. The first is the orchestral opener. Samadhi is quite exciting, if a lot like previous intros we have heard on Epica albums. Wouldn't be the same without it, though.

The next is the compulsory single. I mean, they are on Nuclear Blast. However, while getting signed to Nuclear Blast generally precipitates a rapid decline in quality for most bands, Epica seem to join Behemoth in being a group who have seen only improvement since that point. Although Never Enough was probably the only track of The Divine Conspiracy I did not enjoy, this time around Unleashed actually offers a pleasant, very listenable combination of the simple structures found on Consign to Oblivion and the harder, darker atmosphere on this album.

The next essential component is a ballad or two; I daresay these days Epica easily edge out Nightwish for the title of the band who can write the best ballads that will make even a hardened Metalhead look chastened, or wistful, or just become quiet. Epica's ballads are less theatrical, much less Disney, and more to do with taking a calm moment amongst the melee represented by the rest of the music to reflect. Tides Of Time and White Waters are both very, very good, especially the latter which sees Tony Kakko put in his most heartfelt performance since The Power Of One from Silence. Ironically, the power ballad Tides Of Time features some of the best drumming on the album, with Weesenbeek really pulling out some great fills.

Simone's voice is, as always, a complete highlight of the album. However, here she has more presence than she has had of late. While on Consign To Oblivion she was somewhat limited by the simplistic song structures, and The Divine Conspiracy saw both her and Mark almost take a back seat to the complex compositions, here the band strike a balance between intricate arrangements and less bewildering ones that allow Simone to shine. Burn To A Cinder features a relatively predictable recipe for the band, but Simone's impassioned vocal performance turns it into one of the best songs on the album, largely due to the heartfelt, quiet outro to the song, each word enunciated by Simone with loving attention to nuance and accent.

At times, Jansen dominates the vocals, the most impressive example being the aforementioned Semblance Of Liberty, displaying a vocal style fine tuned from the rasps of his early career into deeper, more authentic growls in the vein of Sander Gommans. Mark Jansen is now a decent enough vocalist in his own right, instead of just providing a flipside to Simone and, previously, Floor Jansen.

The lyrics abandon talk of organized religion and ancient cultures to draw from science, and the effects what is known as the morphic field might have on our concept of our beings, and the effect we can have upon the world. It is appropriate that, as the band show their most capable, best-executed foray into progressiveness to date they have chosen to use lyrics about self-control and freedom of thought. It almost gets quite Buddhist at times, which is something I am sure these guys are comfortable with.

The 'A New Age Dawns' series is carried over from Consign To Oblivion, with 'The Embrace That Smothers' having drawn to its close on the previous album. The idea of new beginnings that was used to describe the end of the Mayan calendar on Consign runs smoothly into the theme of psychic human agency on Design, suggesting a respectful laying to rest of the customs of the past, while the human race endeavours to make its own future.

Despite the fact that the band have not deviated as far from the previous album as they had done with Consign To Oblivion and then The Divine Conspiracy, it may actually be a good thing, a sign that they are finding a style they can truly develop and will hopefully continue to do so in years to come. Perhaps Epica have realized that, as sad as it is, with bands like Lacuna Coil and Evanescence out there, it can be hard for a female-fronted band to be taken as seriously as it might deserve. Which may mean that the integration of elements of Black Metal, Gothenburg Metal, and increasingly Progressive soundscapes on this and the previous album is a conscious effort to show what female-fronted Metal can really be. Hopefully some stereotypes can be dismantled, and Lacuna Coil and their ilk recognized as not at all representative of such bands and merely to be avoided as bad music.

With After Forever now gone, it is all the more important that Epica, half as their legacy and half as their symbiote, produce quality music. Design Your Universe proves that the core duo of Jansen and Simons have lost none of their passion or creativity, and with the band supplemented by Weesenbeek and Delahaye, truly great things are being accomplished. With female-fronted bands I always have this worry, however, that the next album will be 'the one where they got crap', a little like someone who has had a lot of bad breakups might be hesitant about getting into a new relationship. But Epica may now be mentioned in the same breath as Amaseffer, Therion and so forth, as opposed to Delain and all that. They are a Symphonic or Progressive Metal band that happen to have a (very good) female singer, and therefore not subject to the stereotypes that are seemingly readily adopted by other popular bands with female vocalists. I have no fears that Epica will continue to improve; in fact, I'm just waiting for them to switch up their lyrics some more and do a war-themed album. 'Cause that would be, um, epic. So yeah, get this instead of whatever Goth-Rock crap is being touted as 'the next Within Temptation' at the moment.
--
I will write my opinion after somene responses,to avoid double posting

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Kudos for the set,Mary <3
23.07.2010-Thank you Epica for the best evening in my whole life I love you
I love you Isaac! I love you
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Favorite Epica song :
Consign to Oblivion
Unleashed
The Obsessive Devotion

PostSubject: Re: DYU Reviews (metal-archives.com)   Mon Jan 04, 2010 12:14 am

The first review is really nice and honest, I liked it.
The second one short but cool as well.
The third one, um, yeah, I don't agree at all, that's all I'm gonna say. But everyone can have their own opinion, yeah. Just a thing man, DYU is not a concept album.
The last review was probably the most interesting, though I didn't like all the comparing to other bands. Smile

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~ The Price of Freedom is Death
30.09.2010 - Thank you Epica for giving me the best time of my life!
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Posts : 4695
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Favorite Epica song : Kingdom of Heaven
Consign to Oblivion
Chasing the Dragon

PostSubject: Re: DYU Reviews (metal-archives.com)   Sun Jan 10, 2010 4:03 pm

I have to agree with you Gosia,the first two reviews are really good,the third one is a bi exagerated,in a negative way,but yes,the guy is free to have his opinion.But saying that DYU is a concept album,while it isn't shows he didn't really cared about the lyrics at all. The kum bay ah part made me laugh hysterically
The last one is really interesting,but again the comparissions between the bands make me strike someone.
And there are some other stuff I want to point out:
KoH's choirs being compared to the choirs used in AF's Invisible Circles.What?IC was a totaly new era for AF,and it has nothing to do with Epica,nor the first two AF albums.
And Mark's grunts,being compared with Sander's.I'll point the diffrenece:Sander's grunts/growls are very low,and deep and he has a very great diction,as I can understand almost everything he's grunting,while Mark's are more brutal,he has a higher register and he can scream.They're nothing alike

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Kudos for the set,Mary <3
23.07.2010-Thank you Epica for the best evening in my whole life I love you
I love you Isaac! I love you
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PostSubject: Re: DYU Reviews (metal-archives.com)   Thu Jan 14, 2010 9:31 pm

It's good to know that there are people out there who appreciate my reviews on Metal Archives. To be honest with you I am not sure what album the negative reviewer was listening to, groove metal elements, koom by ya? Foolish! If I ever saw a girl who suggested me Design Your Universe I would be over her so quick!
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Posts : 4695
Join date : 2009-08-13
Age : 106
Location : Sancta Terra
Favorite Epica song : Kingdom of Heaven
Consign to Oblivion
Chasing the Dragon

PostSubject: Re: DYU Reviews (metal-archives.com)   Thu Jan 14, 2010 10:10 pm

^Oh,it's nice to meet the reviewer! Can you please go to introduce yourself at the introductions thread,please?

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Kudos for the set,Mary <3
23.07.2010-Thank you Epica for the best evening in my whole life I love you
I love you Isaac! I love you
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PostSubject: Re: DYU Reviews (metal-archives.com)   Tue Jan 19, 2010 2:15 pm

I have to say, the third review made me lol more than anything else. Laughing

Quote :
The lyrics are fucking heinous, like the musings of some 8th grade hippie after reading some revisionist social studies textbook. Let's all hold hands together! Kum bay ah, my lord. Kum bay ah.

Quote :
Of course, this translates into a huge success within the confused, fairweather crop of Euro gothic metal fans who need the perfect soundtrack for their Harry Potter coloring books.

Quote :
If you exist in a world where Dragonforce, Nightwish and Dethklok remain supreme as the best bands you've ever discovered on Youtube, then Epica will probably tickle you in all the right places.

Quote :
Simone Simons is a practised singer, but I find her very safe, operatic vocals to be a better match for the Little Mermaid III direct-to-video soundtrack, or perhaps an audition with American Idol, which she could probably win.

Soundtrack for Harry Potter colouring books? Lol friggin' wut. XD

Everyone's entitled to an opinion, but really... Harry Potter colouring books?
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XxfrozenbutterflyxX
Epican
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Female Aquarius Pig
Posts : 4695
Join date : 2009-08-13
Age : 106
Location : Sancta Terra
Favorite Epica song : Kingdom of Heaven
Consign to Oblivion
Chasing the Dragon

PostSubject: Re: DYU Reviews (metal-archives.com)   Tue Jan 19, 2010 7:30 pm

You captured pretty much the most hillarious details,Ellen xD

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Kudos for the set,Mary <3
23.07.2010-Thank you Epica for the best evening in my whole life I love you
I love you Isaac! I love you
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PostSubject: Re: DYU Reviews (metal-archives.com)   Sun Jan 24, 2010 6:48 pm

-Bows- 'Tis a talent of mine, my dear Cris ^^ Besides, I've never heard of a Harry Potter colouring book before, though anything's possible... XD
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