In the power metal realm, the path to victory is treacherous and beset by fiery dragons and internet trolls alike, but few have traversed said path better than Epica. Many within the genre have come and gone, especially in North American markets where the style is given far less heed, however, Epica’s work ethic and consistently solid outputs over the last fourteen plus years have resulted in their ascension to the upper echelons of the metal world. The Holographic Principle is the band’s seventh record and proves once again why the band has attained their revered status in the global metal community.
The Power metal genre, like most other metal subcategories, can exhibit a vast array of variances and nuances, Epica exists on the spectrum closer to bands such as Nightwish rather than Dragonforce, exchanging blistering speed for groove and bombast. Their skill at crafting expansive metal driven scores has been honed to a weapon of epic destruction on this album, delivering beautifully intricate interplay between their metallic and symphonic elements. Weaving between brutal and beautiful, the songs reach an almost cinematic scope at times. The grandiose chorus for “Beyond The Matrix” and sections of “Once Upon A Nightmare” among others feel larger than life on the album. The Holographic Principle seems devoid of the more extreme metal flirtations from their previous album The Quantum Enigma, but that’s not to say that the guitar riffs of Mark Jansen and Issac Delahaye don’t pack their respective punch. The balance struck between the traditional instrumentation (guitar, bass, drum, etc.) and the symphonic is sublime and works perfectly in tandem with one never drowning out the other. That said, this album does feel more orchestrally dense compared to previous records.
Another powerful element in the Epica arsenal is, of course, their vocals. Singer Simone Simons’s voice is as soaring and supple as ever showing off the incredible range and versatility, while guitarist Mark Jansen provides his signature guttural belts. While I love that the band utilizes the gutturals and applies them as a significant part of the writing instead of a novelty, my only complaint is that I’d love to hear the two styles playing off and with each other more often rather than each being designated their own sections and rarely used in unison.
The Holographic Principle is a captivating listen from beginning to end, delivering exactly what we’ve come to love from the group while proving that a band doesn’t need to change drastically to stay relevant and excel, but rather improving on their foundation can make something familiar sound new.
Written by Paul Ablaze
*edited by Danielle Kenedy