CD review EPICA ‘Omega’

It was on January 12, 2020 that Epica, on their way back from the 70,000 Tons of Metal cruise, stopped in New York City to play a show at the venerable Webster Hall. The author of these lines was fortunate enough to see the concert in person, and at the time no one thought it would be Epica’s last show for quite some time. The rest of 2020 about concerts is well known.

Now, Epica might have been a little lucky in that crazy 2020 since it was the year of the work on the new album, but also here the pandemic had consequences.

With ‘The Quantum Enigma’, Epica started a trilogy of albums in 2014 which finds its triumphant finale on February 26th with ‘Omega’. Four years after ‘The Holographic Principle’ the dutch band releases a record that shows a next level of progress on a very high level. The only possible criticism is that ‘Omega’ tries to combine too many ingredients, but still the album doesn’t seem overloaded.

Epica remain true to their own sound on their new album. It is more the nuances that have been refined which make ‘Omega’ a special record. And what is also added is a liveliness Epica’s seventh album reflects and that gives an idea of how important the self-imposed break in 2018 was for the band.

‘Omega’ begins in a cinematic way. ‘Alpha – Anteludium’ is an intro that gets the listener in the mood for 70 minutes of excellently crafted symphonic metal. What’s next is with ‘Abyss of Time – Countdown to Singularity’ the first ‘real’ song. Fans might already know this track inside out, because it was the first single for the album and was already presented in October 2020. Great melodies meet Jansen’s deep growls which are once again a successful counterpoint to the crystal clear voice of Simone Simons. Together with heavy riff assaults, the song is certainly one of the most aggressive coming from Epica, especially in the middle part.

Epica’s musical spectrum is wide and so it is not surprising that the band introduces some oriental influences in ‘Code of Life’. Supported by in metal rather unusual instruments and vocals of Myrath singer Zaher Zorgati the song is 100% Epica and still something special. And speaking of guest contributions, Vicky Psarekis (The Architects) is performing on the bombastically beautiful ‘Twilight Reveries – The Hypnagogic’, with her giving this tune an extra nuance that makes it stand out. Delicate and soulful moments in the verse are alternating with a chorus that immediately gets into ears and mind. You can’t present symphonic metal much better.

Not to be missed is ‘Freedom – The Wolves Within’ and ‘River’. The latter has already been released as a single too and should be known. It is a piano based beginning with a basic atmosphere that is rather dark and melancholic, supported by Simon’s fascinating voice. ‘River’ is one of the most touching songs on ‘Omega’, a composition that gives you goosebumps and probably shouldn’t be excluded from any live show.

However, the heart of ‘Omega’ is without a doubt ‘Kingdom of Heaven prt.3 – The Antediluvian Universe’, which is located in the middle of the tracklist. With 13 minutes length, the song is not only by far the longest on the record but also presents the complete diversity of Epica. A dramatic, soundtrack-like beginning with choirs creates a grandiose mood that lasts until the end. Epica know how to write epics and here they have succeeded in creating another masterpiece.

The core message of ‘Omega’ refers to the omega-point theory which says that everything happens in circles. It starts with alpha while omega is the final point where everything comes to an focus point. In a figurative sense this can also be said of ‘Omega’. The band worked on this album as a collective and accomplished the feat of bringing together the best of all the years and creating an impressive whole. Furthermore we can conclude that although each note on ‘Omega’ is planed perfectly, the album still has a fresh and dynamic basic vibe from start to end. All these songs have a flow, giving the album the thrill that catches you right away.

‘Omega’ offers a lot for fans. A 70 minutes running time impresses and the musical quality gives excitement for a much longer time than just a one-time-listening. Epica’s new offer has so many twists and details that one can listen to it over and over again while still finding new little details, which make the album growing over time.

Rating: 9 out of 10.

Tracklist:

  1. Alpha – Anteludium 
  2. Abyss of Time – Countdown to Singularity 
  3. The Skeleton Key 
  4. Seal of Solomon 
  5. Gaia 
  6. Code of Life 
  7. Freedom – The Wolves Within 
  8. Kingdom of Heaven prt 3 – The Antediluvian Universe
  9. Rivers 
  10. Synergize – Manic Manifest 
  11. Twilight Reverie – The Hypnagogic State 
  12. Omega – Sovereign of the Sun Spheres 

Label: Nuclear Blast

Genre: Symphonic Metal

Release Date EU: February 26th, 2021

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