Epica’s unique sound is just that: epic. Their signature mixture of heavy metal and orchestral classical music has been going strong for over 14 years and shows no sign of faltering with their latest album, The Holographic Principle.
The album is Epica’s heaviest releases to date with plenty of hard hitting guitar riffs and thundering drums. The band utilises the voices of Simone Simons and Mark Jansen to create a powerful vocal dynamic. Jansen’s deep demonic growls underline and complement Simons’ soaring operatic soprano. Throw in a few ethereal chants from backup choirs, and you’ve got some seriously epic music.
One thing that stands out in The Holographic Principle is the blend of the usual metal guitar riffs, powerfully provided by Isaac Delahaye, with classical strings, brass, woodwinds and percussion. This blend is what gives Epica’s music a cinematic feel, where songs from the album could easily accompany a massive battle in a movie, or an intimidating boss in a video game.
The Holographic Principle starts strong with ‘Edge of the Blade’, showcasing how good Epica’s brand of heavy metal can be. The track is energetic, with choruses that slam into the listener thanks to the heavy drums of Ariën van Weesenbeek. ‘Divide and Conquer’ starts with the sounds of a gun battle and gets more intense from there, with a sweeping orchestral accompaniment. The band is no stranger to softer stuff, with the hauntingly beautiful ‘Ascension – Dream State Algorithm’ and ‘Once Upon a Nightmare’.
Named after a principle of string theories that questions whether reality actually exists or whether we’re all just living in a universe-spanning hologram, it’s clear that Epica wants to explore some more complex and philosophical questions. Songs like ‘Cosmic Algorithm’ touch on the idea of consciousness and the meaning of life, while others like ‘Universal Death Squad’ take a look at the concepts of artificial intelligence and abuse of technology.
Ending the album is the massive 11-minute titular track ‘The Holographic Principle – A Profound Understanding of Reality’. It’s a slow build; starting with some Latin chanting and classical music before growing heavier and heavier, before ending on a strong note.
Clocking in at around 70 minutes, the album starts to blend together at times and can start to feel a bit samey, but it doesn’t outstay its welcome. Epica has distilled and mastered their sound with The Holographic Principle, creating a spectacular piece of symphonic metal.