Design Your Universe
Back in 2009 Epica released their latest album, "Design Your Universe". This album concluded the "A New Age Dawns" series that Epica started on "Consign To Oblivion". After the magnificent "The Divine Conspiracy", I didn’t think Epica could release another album quite so stunning. However, they succeeded yet again, and even now, three years after its release, I still highly enjoy this album.
As every Epica album starts with a prologue, so does "Design Your Universe". This one is called "Samadhi", and it's orchestral, while dark and emotionally heavy. The transition between choirs and orchestra in this song is superb. Right from the start you know this album will be heavier. Right after "Samadhi", "Resign to Surrender" comes rolling out of the speakers, with an enchanting choir and pounding heavy metal. Again, it becomes ever more noticeable that Epica is becoming heavier with each album.Grunts are the main focus in the beginning, in stark contrast with the choirs. After a while Simone joins the music and the Epica feeling is complete yet again, and the song is groovy and catchy.
I’ll skip a few songs and go straight to "Kingdom of Heaven", because I love this song while also completely hating it. Mark Jansen is someone who loves both religion and technology, which leads us to quantum physics. When you want to come across as a sophisticated composer you shouldn’t write lyrics like ”Quantum physics leads us to answers to the great taboos”. Musically, the song couldn’t be any better: Jazz, Rock, Pop and Metal in perfect balance, but those lyrics destroyed the song for me. The monks of Gyuto at the start are an original thing however, and it makes the song a bit better. This album also has a surprising guest vocalist: Tony Kakko from Sonata Arctica appears on the song "White Waters". At first I didn’t like this song, it builds up to an amazing crescendo but I felt that it ultimately fails to deliver. However, if you look at the lyrics of the song and listen to the music you’ll notice it actually makes sense. I’m not going to spoil the fun, you have to see for yourself why it does.
I would recommend this album to everyone, even people outside the metal genre, although I don’t think someone would love it if they don’t like metal. This album is a perfect blend of symphonic, thrash and death metal, with some rock/pop influences in it too. A news paper here in the Netherlands called it “Filmische metal” which is something like “movie score metal”, and I have to agree with it. Because of all the different styles that are put in this album, I don’t think it is a good representative for the symphonic metal genre. For me, it will be one of the best albums I have ever heard. Thank you Epica for releasing another great and stunning album.
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Kelvin's Rating: 4.5/5