Metal News – Epica: Requiem for the Indifferent

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Metal News – Epica: Requiem for the Indifferent
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Epica: The Divine Conspiracy
Gothic Metal, Symphonic Power Metal
Nuclear Blast Records
March 13th, 2012
Release length: 1:13:00
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Time and time again, Epica has astounded the Metal masses with a superb combination of Symphonic elements with a strong take on the female fronted design of the Power and Gothic Metal styles. The group’s inclusion of Classical elements really helps to set them apart from the many clones that litter the musical world, and their previous works always wind up with plenty of high scores, as well as earned them plenty of loyal fans over the years. Requiem for the Indifferent has easily been the groups most anticipated full-length, having taken three years from their previous effort instead of the roughly two year pattern. But, was this extended wait period well worth it?

Much like their more recent releases, as well as with Nuclear Blast’s style in general, the production quality is clearly high end. While not crystal clear and sterile, the digital approach taken really becomes obvious from the moment it starts, not quite holding the strongest impact to some of the instruments. The guitars are a little deeper with a subtle distortion to them that adds some heaviness to the sound, but really ends up lacking a nice bite. The bass makes a nice impact as well, though nothing that truly stands out. The symphonic elements from the keyboards are pushed back in the mix a bit, though still come through pretty crisp. This allows the focus to be more on the aforementioned instruments, as well as the drums. The kicks are a little lost against the booming vocals and louder guitars, having more of a deeper thud to them, while the cymbals crash through perfectly with tight snares that really take over the music, standing out just a little more than the guitars do at times.

There are a number of great tracks throughout this album, but some don’t really have the same impact due to less energy brought into it, or just less symphonic elements being incorporated. “Karma” introduces a nice little symphonic piece that establishes the classical, often fantasy-driven world of Epica well, bleeding into “Monopoly On Truth” nicely to carry on that same tone but with the common instruments, and varied operatic vocals against traditional singing. The faster pace of this song is enough to hook the listener thanks to the pounding snares and subtle thuds of the kicks before going into a mid-pace semi-chug approach with energetic female vocals and deep male guttural. Sadly, this track shows about as much classical influence as you’re going to get on this release. However, “Guilty Demeanor” makes for a nice combination of the Symphonic elements with a charging Power Metal sound. The rich music creates a vibrant setting that accomodates both the opera inspired vocals, as well as the clean toned down approach. There’s also not too much energy behind it, but just enough that it hits at all the right moments, as well as makes for a good shorter experience. “Stay the Course” is about the same, but it has a strong Classical vibe to it, incorporating harsher male vocals instead of guttual to create more intimidating passages that work a lot better than some of the other cuts prior to it.

“Delirium” makes for an interesting track, more for it’s slower pace and emotional output. The start actually gives off a very somber tone thanks to the harminized humming against what comes off like an African setting that eventually gives way to slow building music and atmospheres. The softer approach lasts a good four minutes before it does get richer through additional guitars and drums that crash a little louder to introduce a passionate guitar solo suiting to this Gothic Metal ballad. The climax brings the music back to its slower tone with violins and pianos carrying the music against beautiful clean lead vocals that last only a few lines, allowing the music to carry it out. It all becomes more unique for the album, and enjoyable, but overall is just not the most impressive. Especially since “Deep Water Horizon” seems to be the song they tried to make with “Delirium.” There’s a superb mixture of operatic elements in the vocals, blended with the Symphonic input at times, and a real passion felt in both the music, and the singing. It also sets up a stronger atmosphere, with appropriately utilized gutturals after the half-way marker to push the sweeping, beautiful material prior to the guitar solo. There’s also the title track, “Requiem for the Indifferent,” and overall it leaves you feeling quite “indifferent” after hearing it. There’s plenty of classical elements to it, but the background spoken word sections felt quite cheesy. The guttural vocals, when applied, sound great and would have sufficed a lot better. Musically, it didn’t have the greatest impact thanks to that sleek audio quality. The operatic singing works great for the song when used, which is quite often actually, but the song seems to constantly shift from one sound to another, making it pretty hard to get into.

Unfortunately, this release has its number of issues. Throughout Requiem for the Indifferent you can hear plenty of moments that come off more like Lacuna Coil, just more intense and with guttural male leads instead of clean, though they even pop up for background effect like with “Monopoly on Truth.” Aside that, the audio here didn’t really leave the songs with the greatest kick, feeling a little bland when the group isn’t going for a strong classical or operatic approach to the Symphonic elements. Aside what was mentioned above, there were a good deal of songs that simply don’t stand out in any way thanks to that. “Storm the Sorrow” and a few others didn’t really come off as filler, but not quite as effective as you would hope. Even some of the tracks highlighted above don’t quite have a that great a bite to them to really pull the listener in, which is sad since Epica just has so much potential, and have shown it on previous recordings. But, Requiem for the Indifferent still boasts a good amount of material that is well worth hearing, and fans of the band won’t really be that let down by it, though it does help approaching this one with your expectations set a little lower than normal.

01. Karma – 1:33
02. Monopoly On Truth – 7:11
03. Storm the Sorrow – 5:13
04. Delirium – 6:08
05. Internal Warfare – 5:13
06. Requiem for the Indifferent – 8:34
07. Anima – 1:25
08. Guilty Demeanor – 3:22
09. Deep Water Hiorizon – 6:33
10. Stay the Course – 4:26
11. Deter the Tyrant – 6:38
12. Avalanche – 6:53
13. Serenade of Self-Destruction – 9:52
Initial Pressing Score: 6.5/10

Epica
Epica

Digital review copy of this release provided by nuclear Blast Records.