Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Epica - The Phantom Agony

Artist: Epica
Album: The Phantom Agony
Year: 2003
Length: 53 minutes, 56 seconds
Genre: Symphonic metal
Why I picked it up: In the mood for some metal, thought I should finally check them out
Favourite tracks: Cry for the Moon, Sensorium
Random lyric: In a misty veil, misplaced/Where castles in the air will be no longer seen/As something out of reach/In time the dream will be erased
Purchase: Amazon | Not available on iTunes | Check your local music store!

[Just want to say: I think this is the most unattractive album art of all the music I own. Now, moving on.]

Finally, after a couple years, I have listened to Epica! I'm very glad I did not listen to them earlier, because then I would have trouble finding a metal band I like now...I'm very picky with my metal and I have trouble finding stuff I like but this. This is good. A few points stood out to me while I was listening, I'll talk about them after the video.

I love Simone Simons' voice. Not much more to be said there. I still don't care for growls and probably never will, but I suppose I can appreciate the contrast between melodic female/growling male vocals. Growling isn't very pleasant for me to listen to, but I can understand their purpose.This album also makes very good use of choirs, they're used just enough and never too much. (Who doesn't love a good choir in an epic metal song?)

The subject matter for this album is an interesting: all the songs are about the dangers of organized religion. (My favourite song is about abusive Catholic priests...). I don't really have any comments here, just something to note.

I'm not sure how I feel about the use of soundbites. Two songs make use of them: Facade of Reality and Seif al Din. Facade of Reality is about 9/11 and the soundbites used are a few clips from a speech by Tony Blair. Normally I don't care much for that sort of thing, but I think in this instance the soundbites actually add to the song and the heavy subject matter. In the second song, however, I don't like the soundbites at all. Simone explains the dangers of religion being misinterpreted and used for evil. Maybe this is just the 'writer in me' speaking, but it's very blatantly 'telling' instead of 'showing' and I feel like it interrupts the song.

A fittingly epic, mostly instrumental with some Latin thrown in for good measure, song introduces the album. The rest of the album lives up to the intro song, for the most part. I think I like Epica because they can do epic without taking it to far. None of the songs feel over the top. I can listen to the entire album without getting carried away in an epic story, as always happens when I listen to Within Temptation. Overall, a solid debut album. If you like symphonic metal (my favourite, when done well like with this album!) I'd definitely recommend giving this a shot.

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