Epica – Requiem For The Indifferent

Band: Epica
Album: Requiem For The Indifferent
Release Date: March 2012
Genre: Symphonic Metal
Label: Nuclear Blast Records

It’s been two and a half years since the release of Design Your Universe, an album which, in my opinion, pales in comparison to other Epica releases. So far, Requiem for the Indifferent has received many praises, building up quite the hype for it amongst fans.

Karma opens up the album, in true Epica fashion of orchestration, though taking on a more tense sound than previous opening tracks. The choir section adds to the mystical soundings of the song before Monopoly On Truth tears through with a mixture of gutsy riffs and symphonic elements, that along aside the choir vocals, command the track with a certain unrelenting power. The vocal work of both Mark and Simone are pretty much capital to the track, making it a standard Epica track. The fine-spun solo sounds quite bluesy and old school while keeping a twist of modern elements. Storm The Sorrow kicks off with a tragic yet beautiful introduction that lay down the foundations for Simone’s aw-inspiring vocals to build upon, whilst the well-structured, sophisticated guitar work of Mark and Isaac lift the symphonic and choir elements to new heights, following well with the rhythm sections. Mark’s vocals are quite sinister, leading unexpectedly into the soothing piano-and-vocal combination. Eventually, the song ends on a firm note.

Delirium starts in similar fashion to Living A Lie, due to the hummed choir section. The ethereal piano medley that follows causes the track to differ from Living A Lie, as Simone’s steadfast vocals softly echo throughout. Ariën’s drum work allows for the piano medleys to be led down a subtle flow of rhythm, leading into the steady guitar solo. I would definitely count this as a “chill out” track. The next track, Infertal Warfare, which is dedicated to the victims of Anders Breivik (the Norwegian terrorist who killed several youths and bombed a government building in July 2011), has a very dramatic introduction. Simon’s vocals sound darker and somewhat terrifying, a massive contrast compared to her usual full-of-life vocals, yet a good contrast as her vocals mix in well with nebulous and lurid orchestration. The choir offers a sullen sound to the music but the guitars and Mark’s vocals offer the more macabre touch to the song, with the guitar and keyboard solos having an almost Dragonforce-like touch to them.

Requiem for the Indifferent brings the staunch Arabic sounds of previous Epica tracks back into use, fusing them with solemn acoustic elements before the full force of the guitars and drums are put into action alongside the dusky orchestration. The guitars are, for me anyway, the highlight of the song with their ever changing sound and the ability to adapt to the orchestration. The choirs add a very Shakespearean tension to the music, making it more climatic than most Epica tracks. The following track, Anima, serves as a very emotive interlude, bringing the proverbial calm before the storm that is Guilty Demeanour, a song that is relatively slow paced when compared to the rest of the album. The orchestration is virtually flawless, while Simone’s vocal work feels a bit toned down. A breath taking string section introduces Deep Water Horizon, accompanied by Simone’s vocals. The percussion adds to the hypnotic effect of the song and the guitars are quite piercing, adding a sharpness to the music.

The tragicomic soundings of Stay The Course come net, with Mark’s vocals being harsh yet mesmerising. The acute orchestrated pieces keep the song exciting, as do the progressive guitar stylings of Isaac and Mark. Simone’s vocals are quite graceful sounding on this track, artistically domineering the song. Deter The Tyrant starts with what could easily be mistaken for a stripped down introduction to a Powerwolf track. The guitars are callous in some of the sections, struggling to match the more experienced sounding orchestration. Simone’s vocals echo delightfully throughout the track, going head-to-head with the exquisite vocal stylings of the choir. Mark’s vocals also make a very distinct appearance during the latter half of the song, reinforcing the Epica sound we’re all accustomed to.

Despite its name, Avalanche, comes in quite softly, like a mouse scurrying through an empty church. The orchestration is semi-majestic, allowing for a mystical sound to be created along side Simone’s vocals. Mark’s vocal stylings strike unexpectedly, adding a dose of brutality to the song, blending with the heavier sections of the song like some sort of demonic ichor. The choir parts add a very thespian feel to the song, as does the orchestration. The song comes to its end very softly, allowing for a breather as the piano introduction of the final track, Serenade Of Self-Destructive, eases its through the speakers – That is until the orchestration and guitars come crashing down like a landslide of finely composed music. Both Simone’s and Mark’s vocals are performed radiantly, making this the most illustrious tracks of the album. The percussion is spot on, as is the bass work of Yves. Musically, the song is probably the most diverse piece on the album, mixing the overwhelming power of the orchestration with the aggressive guitars and drums, topped off with the differing yet beautiful vocal parts.

Requiem For The Indifferent is the most powerful release from Epica since the release of Cry For The Moon and The Divine Conspiracy. They have taken their sound apart and rebuilt it, stronger than ever while staying true to their origins. The orchestration and vocals are the parts that stand out the most, as they the album its powerful, emotional sound while the guitars help keep the essence of previous Epica releases flowing. If anything, I don’t think another symphonic metal album, let another Epica release, could top this.

5/5

Nico Davidson

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