I finally got to listen to the new Epica album. I had high hopes for it – 10/10 review scores don’t come by every day these days! Did it live up to the hype?
Well, my reaction is rather mixed right now. I’m sure repeated listening will be necessary; Epica albums are always big, ambitious affairs, and The Holographic Principle is their biggest, most ambitious project to date. There are no radio hits here, nor background music carpet. This needs to be tackled whole cloth, and paid attention to. The levels of complexity and virtuosity showcased are certainly up to what one routinely expects from Epica.
Dammit, Simone’s voice is a big chunk of my reason for listening to Epica, and Simone’s voice is rather… diminished in this. In the first few tracks, she doesn’t even sound like herself. She actually reminds me strongly of someone else, although the name escapes me right now (I’ll update this post if I get a brain wave later). That’s just unacceptable. If you have one of the most distinctive singers out there, you want to underline that distinctiveness, not make her sound run-of-the-mill. Not cool. Things pick up after ‘Universal Death Squad’, and the acoustic tracks make a big case for Simone still being Simone, but that was one hell of getting off on the wrong foot.
My current rating is 7/10. Let’s see if repetition until the end of the month changes my mind.
UPDATE: I remembered! Cristina Scabbia of Lacuna Coil – that’s who Simone sounds like at the opening of the album. Go listen to ‘Edge Of The Blade’ if you don’t believe!