Rating:
7.5
Epica - The Quantum Enigma
2 May 2014


Disc I
01. Originem
02. The Second Stone
03. The Essence Of Silence
04. Victims Of Contingency
05. Sense Without Sanity - The Impervious Code
06. Unchain Utopia
07. The Fifth Guardian - Interlude
08. Chemical Insomnia
09. Reverence - Living In The Heart
10. Omen - The Ghoulish Malady
11. Canvas Of Life
12. Natural Corruption
13. The Quantum Enigma - Kingdom Of Heaven Part II
14. In All Conscience [Digipack bonus]
15. Dreamscape [Earbook bonus]
16. Memento [Vinyl bonus]
17. Banish Your Illusion [iTunes bonus]
18. Mirage Of Verity [Japanese bonus]

Disc II [Digipack/Earbook bonus]
01. Canvas Of Life [acoustic version]
02. In All Conscience [acoustic version]
03. Dreamscape [acoustic version]
04. Natural Corruption [acoustic version]

Disc III [Earbook bonus]
01. Originem [instrumental version]
02. The Second Stone [instrumental version]
03. The Essence Of Silence [instrumental version]
04. Victims Of Contingency [[instrumental version]
05. Sense Without Sanity [instrumental version]
06. Unchain Utopia [instrumental version]
07. The Fifth Guardian [instrumental version]
08. Chemical Insomnia [instrumental version]
09. Reverence [instrumental version]
10. Omen [instrumental version]
11. Canvas Of Life [instrumental version]
12. Natural Corruption [instrumental version]
13. The Quantum Enigma [instrumental version]


In many ways, The Quantum Enigma is the obvious successor to 2009's much cherished Design Your Universe. And by that I mean bombastic and over the top symphonics melded with Mark's signature heavy riffing and growls, with Simone's operatic vocals making a surprising, yet welcomed, return. Most praiseworthy of all, while it follows in the footsteps of an obvious predecessor, this album still manages to somehow feel new, as the symphonics explore untamed territories. There is no shortage of original riffs and the vocals are - wait, what? Did Elyze Ryd from Amaranthe replace Simone? No, no she didn't. But she may as well have, meaning that this is also Epica's most 'poppy' effort to date.

Now I'm not one to bash something for the sake of it simply because it's 'poppy', but the problem is that while the vocals have taken a turn towards the pop spectrum, the instrumentation hasn't, which makes for an awkward combination. This contrast is no better, or, more aptly, worse, exemplified by "Unchain Utopia". It starts out with an epic choir intro that soon blasts into proper symphonic riffing, but then when the song drops into the verse and the vocals kick in. You're left frozen, literally in mid-headbang going "What the f--- am I listening to? Did I just headbang to this?!"

That isn't to say that the album is entirely bad. Other than some of the vocal hiccups, the album has a handful of gems to offer, which is in large part due to Mark Jansen's expertise in composing and songwriting. The symphonic interludes have arguably never been better, with "Originem" and the "Fifth Guardian" proving that pure symphonic tracks can still serve an adequate function on the track list despite their overuse in the scene. "Canvas of Life" is a strong ballad to add to their backlist with the unplugged version being even better. The songwriting in the first half of the album is so exceptional, with epic choirs, shredding guitars and damn catchy choruses that the use of poppy vocals in the verses is forgivable.

All this makes The Quantum Enigma a mixed bag. What could have been an appropriate and worthy successor to Design Your Universe is ultimately held back by Simone's new style of poppy vocals. Also the second half of the album loses its steam as it tries, and fails, to accommodate the poppy vocals. Still, if you can forgive the new vocal style you will probably find much to love here. And even if you can't, it's pretty hard to deny some of the album's great tracks like "The Second Stone" where Mark's top-notch songwriting reminds us why he continues to be such a major player in the scene.

Performance: 9
Songwriting: 6
Originality: 8
Production: 9


Band profile: Epica
Album: The Quantum Enigma


 


written by AngelofDeth | 21.06.2014


Guest review disclaimer:
This is a guest review, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.

Staff review by
R'Vannith

Rating:
8.0
Epica are back with a bang on their sixth studio release, the symphonic metal powerhouse abolishing any doubts that they can maintain their powerful presence within the genre.

Read more ››
published 01.05.2014 | Comments (19)



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Shmyt - 22.06.2014 at 08:46  
I laughed at the Amaranthe joke, it was so true and also so sad that they are one of my guilty pleasures.
AngelofDeth - 22.06.2014 at 09:51  
Written by Shmyt on 22.06.2014 at 08:46

I laughed at the Amaranthe joke, it was so true and also so sad that they are one of my guilty pleasures.

I know it, I've probly played their debut one too many times lol... addicting stuff
mariano - 23.06.2014 at 21:10  
I don't think this is a poppy album at all... Perhaps Simone is not singing operatic style as much as she used to, but that doesn't make it poppy. She didn't use her operatic voice through all the songs in Design Your Universe either, so maybe it's not her voice but the melodies to blame instead?

In my opinion the album was a bit more diverse in terms of styles and musical resources. The production is quite big, but by no means it sounds poppy.
AngelofDeth - 24.06.2014 at 21:11  
Written by mariano on 23.06.2014 at 21:10

I don't think this is a poppy album at all... Perhaps Simone is not singing operatic style as much as she used to, but that doesn't make it poppy. She didn't use her operatic voice through all the songs in Design Your Universe either, so maybe it's not her voice but the melodies to blame instead?

In my opinion the album was a bit more diverse in terms of styles and musical resources. The production is quite big, but by no means it sounds poppy.

Well to each his own.

To me Simone's non-operatic vox took a sudden but subtle change and to me it sounds more poppy than in the past - others have also cited this criticism on the site - and yes maybe it's partly due to a difference in the vocal melodies rather than the vox themselves, but either way it's still a vocal problem. And just to point out, technically all female fronted Sympho Metal could be considered 'poppy' simply due to the fact of it's easier accessibility and the fact that, well it's very 'pop'-ular in Europe.

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