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.