Country: The Netherlands
Label: Nuclear Blast
Style: Symphonic Metal
That which is below is like that which is above
and that which is above is like that which is below
to do the miracle of one only thing
[from “The Emerald Tablets of Thoth (Hermes Trismegistus)”]
Monumental isn’t even a word strong enough to describe the new EPICA offering ‘Omega‘, the first collection of all-new material in five long years. On their eighth full-length, the Dutch symphonic metal titans go all cinemascope, in a stunt both effortlessly and cunningly unleashing their biggest, grandest, flashiest opus yet.
With ‘Omega‘, the final part of the metaphysical trilogy they began with ‘The Quantum Enigma‘ (2014) and continued with ‘The Holographic Principle‘ (2016) they reclaim the throne without so much as the blink of an eye. “We have long found our sound”, says Mark Jansen, “but within that sound, there is lots of room for evolution. We always try to reinvent ourselves, to bring in refreshing elements.” And this massive, shape-shifting beast of a new album is the logical climax of their history.
For the first time in years, they congregated in a villa in the pastoral beauty of rural Holland, setting up their temporary studio in several rooms. For one intense week of renewed bonding and creativity, they accumulated their ideas, they jammed, they wrote, they discussed. Above all, however, they just spent time together as friends. Just like in the old days before the members scattered across four countries. “For the first time in ages, we were working together in the same room, starting on each other’s ideas as early as never before”, Mark Jansen states, “This made the album more coherent. For us, it was the only logical way to lift EPICA to the next level. We had such a free flow of inspiration that we all agreed we would be extending this stay for the next album.”
‘Omega‘ is an album of unity, of friendship, of the close bond the members share. An album that naturally came together as a group effort. Add to that the fact that ‘Omega‘ is once again graced by a stunning artwork courtesy of Heilemania who has been working with the band since ‘The Classical Conspiracy‘ and also the third record the Dutch trailblazers have recorded with producer and close friend Joost van den Broek and you get the picture of a band who couldn’t be happier with the place they’re in right now. As a result, Joost van den Broek not only steered the recording process of ‘Omega‘ but for the first time also took over mixing duties.
A gargantuan task not exactly facilitated by that tiny little nuisance called Covid-19. Yet, be it karma or destiny, EPICA not only persevered, they excelled onto an altogether different level and managed to record an album with a whole orchestra and, for the first time ever, a children’s choir in the midst of a raging pandemic. In the middle of a world in turmoil, of a cataclysmic change in society, EPICA somehow managed to create their most spectacular album yet. An album that is seamlessly bringing together metal and orchestra, choir and oriental instruments to a perfect storm constantly emitting goose bumps. A record with a specifically written suites for orchestra and choir, featuring a wide range of ethnic instruments recorded around the world by some of the best native musicians out there. In short: They outdid themselves. Once again. And still managed to keep the songs approachable and wickedly catchy.
That there’s going on more between heaven and earth than we care to admit is also the central nucleus of the trilogy’s grande finale – the so-called omega point. Mark Jansen: “Everything happens in circles. The seasons, day and night, our lives, reincarnation, the planetary circles. The omega point theory postulates that after the alpha, the big bang, everything swirls together towards one point. There, at the omega point, all consciousness comes together into one point of unification.”
Together with the Emerald Tablets, an ancient source of alchemistic wisdom, Jansen crafted a fascinating concept of beginnings and endings, of life and death. This time around, however, both his and Simone Simons’ lyrics focus on the personal and individual aspects of these theories. They touch upon personal relationships, struggles, battles with depression and anxiety, ultimately providing a lesson in empathy and self-empowerment. A lesson, of course, that would not be half as effective without a vocal force of nature that Simone Simons long has become.
Simone Simons – Vocals
Isaac Delahaye – Lead guitar/Harsh Vocals
Mark Jansen – Rhythm Guitar/Harsh Vocals/Orchestrations
Rob van der Loo – Bass
Coen Janssen – Keyboards/Piano/Orchestrations
Ariën van Weesenbeek – Drums/Grunts/Spoken Word
01. Alpha – Anteludium
02. Abyss Of Time – Countdown To Singularity
03. The Skeleton Key
04. Seal of Solomon
06. Code Of Life
07. Freedom – The Wolves Within
08. Kingdom Of Heaven, Part 3 – The Antediluvian Universe
10. Synergize – Manic Manifest
11. Twilight Reverie – The Hypnagogic State
12. Omega – Sovereign Of The Sun Spheres