Epica – Omega

Epica
Omega
Symphonic Metal
Release date: 26th February 2021
Released via Nuclear Blast

Epica is a name that many fans of symphonic metal will already be familiar. The band, formed by vocalist and guitarist Mark Jansen, have been a driving force in the symphonic metal scene for almost 20 years. Omega is the eighth studio album from Epica, and one I have been looking forward to greatly.

The album opens strong with the hypnotic medley of Alpha – Anteludium before Abyss Of Time – Countdown To Singularity blasts through the speakers with a driving combination of orchestral elements and roaring guitars. The vocal lines are gracefully performed, whilst the guitars and bass lend the track a more traditionally Epica sound. The Skeleton Key differs, marching in with a two-fold sound that comes across as violent and massive in some parts, and dramatic and shadowy in other parts. The haunting piano notes stepping elegantly throughout the track definitely aid in building up the latter sound, whilst the devastating guitar passages, combined with the drums and bass build up the former sound. Key Of Solomon carries a very Oriental sounding medley, which is furthered emphasised by the vocals.

Gaia has a bright, almost optimistic, and inspiring sound, leading this track to quite easily be an anthem sung by Epica fans across the globe. Code Of Life takes on a Middle Eastern aspect to its sound, combining a variety of different elements into a mesmerising, trance-inducing composition. Freedom – The Wolves Within blares out with everything you would expect from an Epica single: an awe-inspiring vocal duet, staunch symphonic elements, calculated drum strikes, compelling passages from the guitars and bass. Kingdom of Heaven Part III – The Antediluvian Universe eases in with a gentle, alluring flute medley that gradually builds into majestic orchestral and choir piece, which in turn opens the way for the rest of the track. Fusing driving sound of the guitars, bass, and drums, with the staunch power of the orchestral segments and Epica’s signature beauty and the beast vocals, Kingdom Of Heaven is probably one of the best parts of the album – which really says something given the magnificence of the entire album.

Continuing on with the album comes Rivers, a track that has a rather mystical resonance to its sound which is fortified by the emotive voice of Simone gliding alongside the eerie notes of the piano. The real strength of the track is found when the instrumentation from the rest of the band makes itself heard, reinforcing that emotive aspect to the vocals, whilst also making the track sound larger and more fulfilled. Synergize – Manic Manifest bursts in with a straight to the point, guitar-driven passage whilst the orchestration makes its own way, standing out noticeably. The choir vocals sound vibrant whilst adding emphasis to the main vocals of Simone and Mark. Twilight Reverie – The Hypnagogic State is a catchy track, making use of orchestration that could easily rival that of Nightwish due to the almost flamboyant sound it comes across with. The guitars and rhythm section also stand out considerably on this track, making Twilight Reverie another of the best parts of the whole album. Vicky Psarakis’ (The Agonist) spoken word section is what really helps the song feel complete. The album finishes with the grandiose sounds of Omega – Sovereign of the Sun Spheres, which is a poignant track to finish with. The track is a fusion of august medleys, sharp sounding passages, and fierce vocals that feels like a new experience which each listen, making it a powerful song to finish with.

Omega shows how capable Epica are of creating with a variety of elements and merging them into a distinct sound that stays so fresh. Omega is yet another album in Epica’s discography that can be easily summed up with one word: Epic but to do so doesn’t give enough credit to what an aural masterpiece the album is or how it demonstrates this band’s ability to break the mold of their own sound whilst staying true to their more traditional compositions.

10/10

Nico Solheim-Davidson

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