Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Requiem for the Indifferent | Epica

Epica's latest album is entitled Requiem for the Indifferent, and its concept is something I've thought of frequently after reading Elie Wiesel's Night. Since I was happy that the album would be centered around that theme, I was quite surprised to find that I didn't like this album as much as I wanted, but as it turns out, Requiem for the Indifferent is a grower. It's different than their previous albums, almost more progressive. Their last album, Design Your Universe, is one of my favorite albums of all time and didn't take any time for me to like it. This new album, on the other hand, required patience.

"Karma," the intro, is rather primitive-sounding, which is quite different for Epica. The choir, however, is not so out of their box, and the voices lead to the second track (and first full song), "Monopoly on Truth." This cues in the guitars, and the album picks up. This song took a while for me to really love. It's a fairly long song with different sections, and I found a couple of parts I really liked, and I eventually began to appreciate the parts around those sections. As a whole, it may not be one of my favorites, but the parts I immediately loved (4:33 to the end) never fail to excite me. Simone Simons' voice soars, the choir's stocatto overlapping the chugging guitars... They achieved some sort of perfection with this song, but the beginning doesn't leave that kind of impact.

Next on the album is "Storm the Sorrow," the lead single, and Simone's voice is a powerhouse. Seriously, how did she not collapse after singing those pre-choruses? Even so, "Storm the Sorrow" is quite fun to sing; rarely can I ever listen to the chorus without singing along because the melody is so beautiful, as are the lyrics. Before the final explosive chorus, the chorus is slowed down with just a piano and Simone, which created a memorable contrast with the rest of the song. A fabulous contribution on Requiem for the Indifferent!

"Delirium" takes a break from heaviness and lets listeners hear Epica's softer side. Here, the choir is more potent than ever in the intro before the piano and Simone take precedence. (But don't fret! The Epica choir isn't gone forever!) The band comes in later on, in typical power-ballad fashion, and though the symphonic elements are evident in the choir, I think fans of general rock and metal will enjoy this song, not just symphonic metal fans. The same can be said about "Internal Warfare," though it's certainly not a ballad and still has plenty of symphonic elements. The bottom line is that it's a metal track with a catchy vocal line in the verses.

(But, to be honest, the whole album will potentially appeal to fans of general metal and not just symphonic metal.)

"Requiem for the Indifferent" is the title track, and it was initially my least favorite, but like much of the album, it grew on me. (Honestly, I didn't even like it much until I sat down to listen to it for this review.) It's so hardcore and complicated... I'm not so sure how I was ever able to deny it before. Though the primitive feel of "Karma" returns for this song, it's still very Epica. It demonstrates that Epica's songwriters are not only masterminds of today's metal, but also today's classical music, and the way they merge the two results in a very epic product.

The seventh track is an interlude called "Anima." I feel like I'm always saying interludes are "effective" but I'm never a big fan of them, because they're usually never more than that. "Anima" is a piano/string interlude that is more than effective, it's gorgeous, and possibly my favorite interlude EVER. So, if the interlude blew me away, than the follow-up track, "Guilty Demeanor" must have made me twitch from awesomeness, right? Well, not really. However, "Guilty Demeanor" is a great song nontheless, it's just not a favorite of mine.

But I start to get mesmorized by "Deep Water Horizon." The guitars, strings, and vocal line of the verses are so pretty. Already, I can tell that this is a masterpiece of Requiem for the Indifferent. Though the chorus doesn't grab me immediately, it did grow on me. The song gets heavier throughout as Mark Jansen's grunts come in, making room for catchy guitars and strings.

The next track is called "Stay the Course," one of the heavier tracks. It may seem to be led by Mark Jansen's grunts at first, but Simone Simons has control of the chorus, which is the best part of the song other than the choir in the bridge. There's something nostalgic about it... Anyway, it's not bad, but not a favorite of mine either. I can say the same for "Deter the Tyrant," though the songs are a bit different. "Deter the Tyrant" has a grand choir line and great guitar riffs, and it's generally bolder than "Stay the Course." All in all, I feel as though I need to give "Deter the Tyrant" a bit more time to grow on me.

Nearing the end of the album, "Avalanche" opens silently with an eerie sound. Oftentimes in this track, I am reminded of Tristania's wondrous guitar riffs, but Epica seems to do it better, freeing themselves of any flaws one could find in Tristania and adding their many great qualities. Yet somehow, it seems more progressive. "Avalanche" features a decent blend of Simone's vocals with Mark's grunts, and Simone's classical training is quite noticeable as her voice overlaps the choir (I'm referring to the section with lyrics: "Degenerate the love and hate..."). Plus, the guitars in that portion are classic at this point.

The final song is called "Serenade of Self-Destruction," and since I bought a physical copy of the album, I ended up with the instrumental track. (There was an accident when making the album; "Serenade of Self-Destruction" is not supposed to be instrumental.) Of course, I listened to the finished version of the track on the internet, and it's fantastic either way, one of the best of Requiem for the Indifferent. Though Mark and Simone add a lot to the song, the instrumental will show listeners that the music underneath the voices is quite phenomenal. But even on the instrumental, one can hear the (mostly male) choir in the first verse, their haunting lyrics sung in a staccato manner. Really, all of the lyrics are quite superior, and Simone 's voice is so pretty in the chorus. "Serenade of Self-Destruction" wraps up the album in a demonstration of many different emotions such as urgency and sadness.

Needless to say, Requiem for the Indifferent is a strong album with elements that many metal fans will enjoy, but I advise listeners to give it time to grow on them. Is it one of my favorites? No, but it's a more-than-satisfying album nonetheless. And after all, it is Epica, and in case anyone's failed to observe, they're called that for a reason.

4/5 Stars

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