Epica – Requiem for the Indifferent

Epica

Requiem for the Indifferent

01. Karma
02. Monopoly On Truth
03. Storm The Sorrow
04. Delirium
05. Internal Warfare
06. Requiem For The Indifferent
07. Anima
08. Guilty Demeanor
09. Deep Water Horizon
10. Stay The Course
11. Deter The Tyrant
12. Avalanche
13. Serenade Of Self-Destruction

[03/06/12]
[Nuclear Blast]

So, Epica are back. For those unaware, Epica is a symphonic metal band that dabbles in the realm of progressive, melodic death, and power metal. Their music intertwines complex metal instrumentation with lush and organic orchestral pieces with a trade off of vocals between female opera-esque singer Simone Simons, and death growler Mark Jansen. Requiem for the Indifferent marks the fifth studio album for these dutch metallers, and the first release of theirs since 2009’s fantastic Design Your Universe. The lead up to this album’s release has been something of great intensity for me, and indeed all fans of the band. As I said, Epica’s last album was fantastic, and easily one of my top five albums from 2009, so with the arrival of a new album I had high hopes that the band would be able to recreate the magic and intensity of DYU and their earlier works. However, what you will soon learn is that Epica have released something in the opposite direction of what I was anticipating.

Epica have been doing symphonic metal fairly well from the get go. It’s not a terribly innovative genre, but there’s something to be said about being able to effectively create tasteful orchestral arrangements and weave them into melodic metal music without sounding too absurd or just plain shitty. As I said, the band does this fairly well; the music is never offensive to the senses and it never really overstays its welcome. The orchestral parts are beautiful, dense, and have creative melodies layered throughout the music while the metal parts are heavy and full of the off-kilted time signatures and groove that you would expect in a progressive metal album. There are also some subtle musical moments that don’t fall in either of the former categories—like the acoustic section on ‘Deep Water Horizon’—that add yet another layer of depth and beauty to the music on the record. The vocals are diverse and add a new feeling of liveliness to the compositions; they sound fresh and invigorated as opposed to some of the vocals in the past, especially those of Simone. Everything seems balanced and well placed. As a whole, it’s the right amount of everything.

The problem, however, is that Epica have been doing this since the onset of their career. They have four albums of back catalog proving that they can make symphonic metal like this, and in most cases make symphonic metal a lot better than this; with more complexity, diversity, and better songwriting, Design your Universe and The Divine Conspiracy are leagues and fathoms ahead of the material on Requiem. To me, this feels like a safe album. Even with the complexity of arrangements and the skill required to pull off all the different vocals and time shifts, everything just feels stale. It’s like listening to the same song over and over for nearly 80 minutes. I don’t have a problem with length, and usually prefer when bands have the skill to pull off really lengthy albums—as Epica have demonstrated in the past—but there’s really no reason WHY this should be as long as it is. While nothing is offensive or awful, it’s just kind of uninteresting and a chore to have to sit through. It’s beautiful at times, but in the end it’s mostly just boring. Boring followed by boring, with boring dressing on the side. For being a so-called progressive metal band, not much has been progressed in the band’s sound, and that’s ultimately going to be the downfall for Epica.

It seems like I’m being exceptionally harsh on Epica, but that’s only because I love them so much and because I know they can do better than this. They’re highly skilled and creative folks with a history of great albums to back up my claims, but Requiem for the Indifferent isn’t anything special for them or for the metal scene in general. It’s beautiful at times, and highly complex, but it’s just lacking so much and that really brings it down. It feels average and slightly outdated, especially compared to other albums that have implemented symphonic or orchestral arrangements, like Septic Flesh‘s The Great Mass from last year. If you’re a fan of the band, I guess you’ll probably get something out of Requiem for the Indifferent, but it’s not the masterpiece that we were all hoping for. As for newcomers, just pass on it and go listen to Design Your Universe.

Epica – Requiem for the Indifferent gets…

3/5

– EC

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