Epica's We Still Take You With Us collection may well bust your corset

We Still Take You With Us is a lavish archive box set from guitar-shredding Lowlanders Epica

Epica: We Still Take You With Us cover art
(Image: © Nuclear Blast)

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Marking 20 years since their debut album The Phantom Agony, Dutch symphonic metallers Epica are reissuing it in a handsome box set alongside early-2000s sequels Consign To Oblivion and The Score, plus a corset-bursting banquet of extra material. Here you can hear the gloriously overblown studio blueprints for even more preposterous live favourites such as Cry For The Moon, Trois Vierges and Solitary Ground.

For hard-core fans of the band, the main treasure here will be Live At Paradiso, a professionally shot concert and live album recorded in Amsterdam in 2006 but never before released, for unexplained reasons. 

Perhaps Epica were unhappy with this performance, which captures a relatively inexperienced young band attempting their signature Wagnerian spectacle on a fairly modest budget, and it does plod a little during some of the more Andrew Lloyd Webber-ish numbers. Even so, this is still a slickly shot and mostly excellent set featuring low-key pyrotechnics, topless fire- breathers and multiple prog- metal guests. 

Highlights include Force Of The Shore, which sounds like Rammstein covering Sparks, and a majestic Quietus, its thunderous sludge-metal waltz- core overlaid with dainty Celtic folk melodies that practically scream out for dwarves capering around a miniature Stonehenge. In a universe beyond good taste, Epica rule forever.

Stephen Dalton

Stephen Dalton has been writing about all things rock for more than 30 years, starting in the late Eighties at the New Musical Express (RIP) when it was still an annoyingly pompous analogue weekly paper printed on dead trees and sold in actual physical shops. For the last decade or so he has been a regular contributor to Classic Rock magazine. He has also written about music and film for Uncut, Vox, Prog, The Quietus, Electronic Sound, Rolling Stone, The Times, The London Evening Standard, Wallpaper, The Film Verdict, Sight and Sound, The Hollywood Reporter and others, including some even more disreputable publications.