Normally when a band claims that their latest album is their “heaviest yet” it’s best to take it with a pinch of salt, but Epica might be right.
They’ve always had a harder edge than their symphonic contemporaries but their seventh album goes at it hammer and tongs. Combining the visceral edge of melodic death metal with typical bombast The Holographic Principle puts the guitar at the forefront instead of resting solely on the histrionic impact of choirs and orchestras.
The result is full-pelt metal and maximum symphonic drama. Divide And Conquer is one-part melody two parts caffeinated Dimmu Borgir meets latter-day Nightwish, Beyond The Matrix sounds like something Sabaton would do if they had a bigger budget and The Cosmic Algorithm is a headbangers’ anthem, attacking with choral urgency and Gojira-heavy riffs. In a moment of respite, Once Upon A Nightmare makes the most of the real-deal strings and brass but overall this album sounds like someone has let a rocket off in the Albert Hall.