By Jill Hughes

The epic movement of one song after another in the new Epica album, The Divine Conspiracy, is what keeps the listener engaged.  The powerful orchestral sounds of this Dutch goth symphonic metal band probably can be compared to bands like After Forever and Within Temptation, however they do have their own sound.  Vocalist Simone Simons has powerful vocal chords and does not over exaggerate the operatic style like Tarja Turunen did in Nightwish.  But you get into the beautiful melodic vocals that start out Epica’s songs and all of the sudden become startled by cookie monster growls and “spoken words” from Mark Jansen.

This is for the music enthusiast that enjoys overpowering instruments and vocals. Everything that Epica does, even in their past albums is over the top with bombastic sounds.  Their songs are like movements. They tell a story; They engulf you in an overwhelming way.  But it’s brilliant and how they pull this off live, I’ll never understand.

My favorite songs are the more melodic, less “growly” songs.  I can only take so much of something that sounds like an evil gremlin from a fantasy movie.  “Safeguard Your Paradise” is a remarkable melodic song that beautifies Simone’s singing. “Sancta Terra” is a very strong song with passionate lyrics, angelic vocals and very powerful instrumental work, gliding in and out of your ears. Simone is really able to hit the high notes in this song with clear tonality. The harmonies in the background really add an extra layer to this song that will fill the room with a choral effect.

The title track, “A Divine Conspiracy” is very well-done, although it is slightly longer than the other songs at 13+ minutes. It may seem a bit never-ending but there is never a dull moment. It surprises you with all kinds of twists and turns, including more growls! It has a marching effect to it, sort of reminding me of “March of Mephisto” by Kamelot, however this song is its own.

If you liked the previous Epica albums, then this is a must for you.  You will hear a lot of the same elements, with layering of vocals, orchestral composition, Simone’s powerful operatic, slightly angelic voice, and Mark’s metal grunts. RARRR! 🙂