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Consign to Oblivion

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(19 Reviews)

Metal Album Reviews[RSS]

  • I like Epica’s approach to the whole symphonic opera sub genre of metal. Sure, they have all the elements of typical music of this time: heavy guitars, chorus of chanters, keyboards, epic songs, and female vocals. However, Epica use one thing most of the other bands don’t: moderation. Their songs are not overly long, using excellent choruses and instrumentation to write songs rather than draw out the same boring melodies that infuse this genre. Their singer, while taking an operatic approach, doesn’t sound as corny as everyone else. She brings her voice up the skies when she has to but never goes out of her way to bombastic.

    The guitars are centered around riff playing rather than being a heavy backdrop for the keyboards. Speaking of the keyboards, there is no annoying keyboard solos that go out of their way to scream, “look at me”. Instead, they are used to create an epic background that pushes the song as whole up the front for the listener.

    Their sound never strays into the dark gothic realm when the melodies are used the most. In fact, the songs are rather upbeat with one’s head filling up with the grand schemes of adventure driven by the beat of the music. The drums are a power house of pound double bass and the death metal vocals used later in the record give the band an edge that other power metal bands simply don’t have.

    Quite simply, Epica show use they can write grand, epic, songs without over doing the cheese factor or showing off how good they can create pointless instrumentation that shows off to no one. You can tell they have fun writing and playing this music and translate well for the listener.

    Posted on December 28, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • I am new to this genre of music. I recently got this cd along with Nightwish. Outstanding music!! The mix of rock and symphony is incredible, along with the choir. Very powerful and moving. My only complaint, which I read about in other reviews is the stupid growling and occasional screams. it is not persistent enough to become a nuisance, but when it’s there, it is horrible. It doesn’t blend with the music and adds nothing positive. Other than that, the lead female singer is awesome. I find her a little better (my opinion) than the female from Nightwish. It’s easier to understand her. I would recommend this cd to anyone with an ear for excellent musicianship and singing. It’s a reach, but they’re similar also to Trans-Siberian Orchestra (my opinion again)

    Posted on December 28, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • Epica, Consign to Oblivion
    In my review of Epica’s first album (“We Will Take You With Us”), I complained that the band had overly ambitious lyrics, and that Simons’ voice lack charisma (and to some extent power) sufficient to stand up to the heavy guitars, drums, and death grunts of a metal band. I am happy to report that “Consign to Oblivion” remedies both deficiencies, while providing another example of the band’s remarkable musical composition skills.

    Simons has developed further as a rock singer, which requires different technique than her operatic training. In the lower two-thirds or so of her range, she now generates enough power to stand up to the rest of the band. Unfortunately, Simons generally switches to opera in the top third of her range, where her voice can get overwhelmed by all the other things going on. This difference across her range is particularly evident in “Blank Infinity,” where she uses both styles and her full vocal range. Criticisms aside, Simons’ voice remains an essential part of the Epica sound, and she is also growing in her emotive and interpretive skills, adding considerable warmth to the sometimes-cold performance in “We Will Take You With Us.”

    Quite a few reviewers object to Mark Jansen’s occasional death growls. In contrast to them, I think these work (and I’m not usually a fan of death growls). Here’s why: Epica uses the growls as part of the composition. He’s not a singer, he’s an instrument. The growls add dark color in appropriate places in a few of the tracks. In this respect, the death growls play a musical role in this album comparable to the lyrical role they played in the previous album, where the terrorists sang in death growls. It works.

    Lyrically, “Consign to Oblivion” moves closer to the first rule of writing – - write what you know. Several songs explore personal themes about ambition and life choices. Other songs continue with the interest in terrorism and fundamentalist religion that dominated “We Will Take You With Us.” Yet even these pieces represent an improvement. Instead of lecturing elites, Epica now connects these themes to regular people, which works much better.

    The band remains incredibly ambitious. It still peppers its lyrics with Latin, and its cover art evokes Mayan themes and hieroglyphics.

    Though I’m not sure that they would classify themselves that way, Epica writes in the tradition of the best progressive rock of the 1970s. Each piece develops one or more musical themes, usually over a period of 7-10 minutes. Most of the pieces involve changes in key and time signature. I don’t know why this should be true, but like Within Temptation, Epica has a fondness for 3/4 ballads and 12/8 uptempo songs, and for triplets even in their 4/4 pieces. Virtually every track is musically interesting, and repays multiple hearings.

    It will also grab you from the first. A teen-aged friend of my daughter climbed into the car when I was listening to this album and said after about 15 seconds, “Wow, I love this music! What is it?” Happy will be the day when more Americans discover this Dutch band as she did.

    Posted on December 28, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • For too long in the US we have been deprived of great metal in the mainstream. There have been many attempts to commercialize rock but all fall short of something special. With the exception of bands that have braved the past 20 years, like Iron Maiden, Megadeth, Slayer, most of the newer bands just dont validate metal as it’s own genre anymore! I’m sorry but bands like Evenesence and Linkin Park dont even come close to what metal is really about!

    Enter EPICA…

    This band from the Netherlands succeeds in bringing that heavy feeling back to us! And as a bonus, the lead vocalist, Simone Simons has one hell of a voice! If you like Nightwish, then you’ll LOVE Epica! Consign to Oblivion is a very well written album with many dynamics indeed! Epica’s founder and guitarist Mark Jansen also lends some great vocals as well in the vain of bands like Death, Dimmu Borgir, Children of Bodom, and the like.

    This band is a great mix of Symphonic, Gothic, Thrash, Death, and balls out Heavy Metal!

    And if you’re in the Atlanta area, they will be having their American debut on stage at this years ProgPower USA!

    Definately check out this band and join the revolution to bring metal back to the forefront of the music industry where it belongs!

    Check out more info about Epica at

    Posted on December 27, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • Epica’s newest release, Consign to Oblivion, is a KILLER album. You’re probably thinking that the use of killer to describe a Symphonic Metal album is a little peculiar but I’m sorry, the usual adjectives like magnificent or remarkable fall short here. This is surely the best Symphonic Metal album to be released since Therion`s, double masterpiece Lemuria/Sirius B, amazed everyone in May of last year. But that was last year and this year Epica has taken the torch from the likes of After Forever, Sirenia, Tristania and Penumbra and ran away with it. I would say that Consign to Oblivion is their `Magnum Opus’, except I wouldn’t be surprised to see them top it. This is only their second album and I thought their first, The Phantom Agony, was fabulous and wrote so with my March 4, 2004 review. Far be it, for me to put a limit on Epica’s potential.

    Epica’s creative founder, lead guitar player, Mark Jansen, is a former member of Holland’s After Forever. He left them a couple years ago, citing the usual, artistic differences. From my perspective, it looks Mark was right, Epica is soaring, while After Forever is foundering after three mediocre albums.

    Epica’s lead singer, Simone Simons, an attractive woman with long flaming red hair is competition to Cristina Scabbia for the most attractive Femme Metal singer but singing wise, she is no Floor Jansen, the exquisite singer for After Forever. Then again, who is? Nevertheless, Simone really isn’t bad. In fact she’s pretty good and has done a commendable job on Consign to Oblivion. The remaining members of Epica’s nuclear family are Ad Sluijter – guitars, Coen Janssen – synths, Yves Huts – bass and Jeroen Simons – Drums and percussion.

    Consign to Oblivion

    If I were to have a problem at all with this album, which I don’t, it would be the odd choice of name for the album, a rference to the historical oblivion or the empire of the Mayan Indians, which again is the odd choice for the subject matter of this marvelous album but that’s what it is and who am I to second guess so talented composer in the face of such beauty.

    Song/Track List

    1] “Hunab K’u” (a new age dawns prologue), 1:43, Question: What does Epica and `Pirates of the Caribbean’ have in common? Answer: This song. When I hear this instrumental intro, I get visions of `Pirates’ and Johnny Depp, it just seems to have the same feel. This is the first of a four part song “A New Age Dawns” (5 stars)

    2] “Dance of fate” 5:13, We get right with it with strong keyboards and nice riffs that lead into Simone’s stronger vocals, which throughout the album are assisted by the seven member `Epica’ choir and the strong symphonic feel that is created by the eight musicians in addition to the band members, the `Epica’ string orchestra. “Dance of Fate” starts out fairly fast, but the pace slows down for Simones vocals an speeds up in between. (4½ stars)

    3] “The last crusade” (a new age dawns part 1), 4:22, The choir leads off with soft voices, evolving into to a stronger grouping of voices and a galloping back beat. Simone carries this very lovely composition through this variable paced with a variety of hooks and interesting applications. Oddly the lyrics are in Latin as well as English. (5 stars)

    4] “Solitary Ground” 4:24, This is a very nice ballad with a very pleasant harmony. I didn’t think I liked it that that much but repeated listens made me see tha error of my ways. (4½ stars)

    5] “Blank infinity” 4:01, Starts with a piano solo before everyone joins in. Blank Infinity is a melodious medium fast tempo piece, with full orchestra, choir backing and Simone Simons. (4 stars)

    6] “Force of the shore” 4:02, On track six, the choir has a prominent part including the beginning. This is the first song in which we get to hear Mark Jansens snarling vox, though it is restrained. “Force of the shore” is a variable paced number and has a lot of interaction happening between the band orchestra and the various singers. (4½ stars)

    7] “Quietus” 3:47, Track seven seems a little out of place with it’s initial medieval folk melody in a story about ancient Indians, yet it is a powerfully catchy melody, that is carried throughout the song, very nicely by Simone Simons. This is her best work and it was done with little help from the choir. (5 stars)

    8] “Mother of light” (a new age dawns part 2), 5:56 A strong song, maybe the best of many great songs. Simone gives us strong deliberate delivery and the choir is also strong. Nice piano interlude, great power drums and strings. Just a wonderful bombastic, epic number. (5 stars)

    9] “Trois Vierges” 4:42, Now we go from what may be the most impressive to the least impressive song. To bad too because Trois Vierges is a mediocre ballad, featuring Kamelot’s excellent singer, Roy Kahn guesting in a duet with Simone. (2½ stars)

    10] “Another me” “in lack’ech”, 4:40, Another me is a medium tempo meandering, easy going, pleasant composition. Nothing special but a nice break from some of the more dramatic numbers, including setting up the ten minute finale. (4 stars )

    11] “Consign to oblivion” 9:45, This lengthly grandiose classic seems to combine the best elements of all the best preceding tracks. Again a movie score feeling, featuring powerful beats and memorable melodies, permeates this great composition performed seemingly ad infitum, with extra strong performances by a growling Mark Jansen, lovely soprano vocals by Simone Simons and all the rest of the orchestra, band and choir finishing up this powerful melancholy song, depicting the end of the Mayan empire. (5 stars)


    One thing is irrefutable, Epica’s music is epic, bombastic, highly melodic and cinematic. The fact that it is cinematic, shouldn’t be surprising since Epica has a forthcoming, mostly instrumental album, simply entitled The Score, an album containing `film music`. Mark Jansen himself, has said, “We have a great admiration for people such as Hans Zimmer and Danny Elfman. They are the major composers of the great Hollywood films of this era. The sound of Epica is a combination of scores and elements from metal and rock.” and Epica’s label, Transmission Records describes their music as, `classical/ film music with the elements of metalrock.’

    Now, if I may, I’m going to quote myself from the aforementioned Phantom Agony review from last year, “I like this new direction. It also reminds me, somewhat, of a musical score for a historical movie. I can see myself turning down the sound and playing this album whilst watching The Highwayman or the Count of Monte Cristo, emoting romance, tragedy and adventure. “, so yes, I guess it is movie style music. You know what? I don’t care. If it feels good to my aural senses, that’s what counts and this music is what I like and if you have marveled at the wonderful music in some of your favorite movies like Gladiator and Lord of the Rings, you should too!

    Posted on December 27, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now