Epica: 'The Solace System'
Out Now (Nuclear Blast)

7th September 2017

ian sutherland
Words and Pictures: Ian Sutherland


Dutch symphonic Metallers Epica have been a band on the rise for some time now and show no signs of stopping.

As befits a group of musicians who have hit upon the right line-up at the right time their creativity seems boundless and 2014s 'The Quantum Enigma' was one of their best ever albums with quality right through it's seventy-five minute length.

The excellent song writing extended to five songs being recorded which didn't make the album and appeared on various singles and as bonus tracks in some territories. All these songs were very good too and it sparked much debate among their fan base as to whether such a strategy encouraged fans to illegally download songs rather than buy multiple copies of the album to get hold of them all.

Fast forward to 2016 and the release of another excellent Epica album in 'The Holographic Principle', again an album that pushed the single CD format to its limits content wise. This time wiser heads have prevailed and the six songs they recorded which didn't make that album have been packaged into one EP, though at thirty minutes you could describe 'The Solace System' as a mini album in its own right.

You would think that with a band as prolific song wise as Epica are these days that there must surely be a drop off in quality when eighteen songs are written and recorded for an album. I thought that 'The Holographic Principle' wasn't quite up to the level of its predecessor while still being very good indeed. The six songs here are easily good enough to fit nicely on that album though and one or two may have even improved it.

From the opening title track all the typical Epican elements are there. The brutal guitar riffs and pounding yet imaginative drums. the shimmering soprano vocals, choirs and occasional grunts, the complex arrangements and spread throughout the songs some very clever hook lines and melodies which allow such complicated work to really find a way in to your mind and become memorable.

This really is an Epica album in miniature with songs like the frantic 'Fight Your Demons', the sweet balladry of 'Immortal Melancholy' and the power and majesty of 'Decoded Poetry' showing all the facets that make this unique band the rising force they are. Simply put, if you like Epica, you'll like this EP and will need to get it as I'm sure a couple of these tunes will become live favourites soon.

If you haven't come across Epica yet this would be as good a way in as any. It's always great to hear a band performing at the peak of their powers and there's plenty of that here.

beer beer beerbeerbeerbeer beer beerbeerbeer

Check out more of Ian Sutherland right here.

metal talk