After a five year gap between studio albums, the Dutch symphonic metal band Epica return with Omega. It’s the final album in a metaphysical trilogy that also included 2014’s The Quantum Enigma and 2016’s The Holographic Principle.
The recording of the album was a throwback to the band’s early days. They gathered in a villa in rural Holland, spending a week together bonding along with writing for the album. Mark Jansen says there was a free flow of inspiration and it made the album more coherent. Though the recording of the album was somewhat affected by the pandemic, they were able to record the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra and children’s choir right before the lockdown.
After an intro, “Abyss Of Time – Countdown To Singularity” sets the stage for the rest of the album. It blends symphonic elements with Simone Simons’ ethereal vocals augmented by Mark Jansen’s harsh growls. That’s Epica’s signature sound, and though familiar by now, it’s anything but stale as they continue to bring in new elements and interesting twists and turns with each album.
Epica songs are grandiose and bombastic with a lot of depth, but they don’t forget hooks and choruses to make them memorable. On songs like “Code Of Life,” the children’s choir is a nice addition, but the track is driven by quality riffs and a strong vocal performance from Simons and Jansen.
The centerpiece of the album is the epic 13 plus minute “Kingdom Of Heaven Part 3 – The Antediluvian Universe,” following part 2 from The Quantum Enigma and part 1 from 2009’s Design Your Universe. It has a lot of ebbs and flows, maintaining the listener’s interest with minimal lulls.
While 71 minutes is a lengthy album, that’s about the length of Epica’s previous albums, which has served them pretty well so far. Some configurations come with an acoustic EP. It’s interesting because the four songs aren’t just unplugged versions of the originals, but have their own unique approach.
Omega is another strong effort from Epica, delivering memorable songs along with interesting arrangements and a compelling lyrical journey.
(released February 26, 2021 on Nuclear Blast)
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Watch Epica – “Abyss Of Time” Video