Epica: ‘Omega’ Review
After the longest gap ever between Epica albums, the band are back with ‘Omega’. A 70-minute epic that marks their 8th studio album in style. I think it may be one of their most advantageous works in recent years too. The orchestral and choral arrangements are off the scale, and as always mixed together wonderfully.
The additional instrumentation was provided by the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra (Devin Townsend, Blind Guardian, Dream Theater, and more), Kamerkoor Pa’dam for the adult choir (Powerwolf, Devin Townsend, Epica, and more), and Zangschool BrabantTalent for the children’s choir.
‘Alpha – Anteludium’ gently eases us into the album with an orchestral epic, showcasing the philharmonic orchestra and choirs. This blends seamlessly into ‘Abyss Of Time’ where we are immediately met with the duality of harsh and clean vocals provided by Mark Jansen (Harsh), and Simone Simons (Clean). The dense arrangements and mixing that we’ve all come to know and love from Epica are back in full force. Simone’s vocals soar above the choir and blast beats beneath during the catchy chorus lines, sandwiched by heavier vocals for aggressive contrast. And obviously a cheesy key change at the end for the return of the first motif.
I should also add that the music video for ‘Abyss Of Time’ was absolutely fantastic. The costume design alone is wonderfully ethereal, combined with the panoramic shots of the woodland, and obviously, Simone’s glamorous golden eyeshadow makes for a superb piece of art.
‘The Skeleton Key’ was another track that got a stellar music video from the band. And without a doubt, the music is on par with the fantastic cinematography. I particularly love the softer section of this track where Simone’s vocals are backed with delicate piano lines, before exploding into multi-part choral arrangements that fill up one’s ears with operatic joy.
I can’t help but belt out the chorus line of ‘Seal Of Solomon’, with all of the accompanying instrumentals, all sorts of dopamine is released in my brain when jamming along to this huge melodic passage. This track also has a nifty guitar solo just before the final chorus, which of course comes into fruition through another cheesy key change.
‘Code Of Life’ starts by giving us a sonic break from the heavier side of the music before blending us back into evil. The oriental drum arrangement covers this very successfully by taking us on a detour from the highway of symphonic metal for a short while, before returning on course to an amalgamation of the two.
It seems like an eternity ago that Epica went in the studio to start recording this album. The band released a 12 part series across a series of months to cover the intricacies and complexities that come with constructing an Epica album. I found the series very insightful into their creative process and would highly recommend giving all 12 parts a watch. It’s rare to see this deep under the hood for a band with such complex arrangements.
‘The Antediluvian Universe’ is part 3 in a series of tracks distributed throughout Epica’s discography dubbed ‘Kingdom Of Heaven’. Part 1 from the 2009 album ‘Design Your Universe’, and part 2 from the 2014 album ‘The Quantum Enigma’. Whilst I’m personally not too familiar with the former, I’m a huge fan of the latter and it’s great to see the continuity of this work. Part 3 goes absolutely everywhere from soaring operatic verses to aggressive blast beats. The band truly live up to their name with this one song alone!
‘Omega – Sovereign Of The Sun Spheres’ holds no punches when it comes to closing the album. I think the guitar playing here is at it’s most brutal, with the speedier tempo driving forward aggressive vocal lines to which creates a fast-paced atmosphere. More awesome guitar solos, colossal accompaniments from the choirs and orchestras, and huge melody lines that situate one’s imagination to a flying chariot charting through a grandiose and mystical land.
I’ve always been a huge fan of Epica since I first listened to them, and they keep going from strength to strength with each new release that comes out. And this album has been no different. ‘Omega’ met and exceeded all of my expectations in all of its whimsical glory. Hopefully one day we’ll be able to experience some of these fantastic tracks live. You know, in 2050 or so…