EPICA 'We Will Take You With Us' 2 meter sessies/Transmission Records (2004)
When guitarist Mark Jansen left Dutch Gothic/Symphonic Metallers After
Forever and struck out on his own to eventually form Epica, he took with him
the vision of epic, symphonic metal which After Forever demonstrated so well
in the form of their second album, Decipher. Epica’s debut album ‘The
Phantom Agony’ was released in June 2003 and its entry in the Dutch charts
quickly established the band as one of the rising stars of the Dutch metal
Largely as a result of their quick success, the band were invited to perform
a partly acoustic session for the ‘2 meter sessies’, a music program on RTL
Nederland, which has hosted sessions by numerous bands over the years
including names as big as Radiohead and The Counting Crows. This album is
the product of those sessions, at which the full band performed 6 tracks
from ‘The Phantom Agony’ and a further 3 songs in acoustic format. In one
sense it is a live album, but it is a live album performed in a studio and
without an audience.
The 6-piece outfit produce music that is often labeled as Gothic metal, yet
is perhaps better described as epic, symphonic metal. Not epic in the sense
of Rhapsody, but certainly the subject matter is quite profound and the
music is very dramatic, making heavy use of symphonic samples and the
interplay between the soprano vocals of Simone Simons and the grunts and
growling of Mark Jansen. The album opener ‘Façade of Reality’ is a perfect
example of this. The subject matter is the tragedy of 9/11 and the aftermath
and the dramatic music makes excellent use of the orchestral samples, the
full heaviness of the band and some speech samples from our own Prime
Minister, Tony Blair.
Shorter tracks such as ‘Sensorium’ and ‘Illusive Concensus’ demonstrates
the softer side of Simone Simons voice, but it is on the longer songs such
as ‘The Phantom Agony’ that the band is able to use its full bag of tricks.
Overall the result is different, but not substantially different to the
studio versions of these tracks, so for most fans, the main interest will be
in the acoustic numbers of which there are three.
The first of these is the non-album track ‘Feint’, which was issued as a
single, earlier this year, but far better than that are the acoustic takes
on 'Run For a Fall’ and ‘Memory’, a cover of the Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim
Rice Number. Here the accompaniment is provided mainly by Coen Jansen at
the piano with a little acoustic guitar and some airy backing vocals leaving
plenty of space for Simone to demonstrate why she is one of the most
promising female vocal talents on the scene today. Tackling such a well
known number was rather brave of the band, and in particular mezzo soprano
Simone, who is only 19 years old, but she pulls it off very well indeed.
The CD will be available in various digibook and jewel-case version,
packaged with and without a DVD of the performance. The DVD will also
contain the two videos which the band made to promote their singles, however
the CD alone is probably only of interest to the completist.
Review by Charlie Farrell