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Epica - Design Your Universe review


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Band: Epica
Album: Design Your Universe
Style: Symphonic metal
Release date: October 2009

01. Samadhi (Prelude)
02. Resign To Surrender (A New Age Dawns - Part IV)
03. Unleashed
04. Martyr Of The Free Word
05. Our Destiny
06. Kingdom Of Heaven (A New Age Dawns - Part V)
07. The Price Of Freedom (Interlude)
08. Burn To A Cinder
09. Tides Of Time
10. Deconstruct
11. Semblance Of Liberty
12. White Waters
13. Design Your Universe (A New Age Dawns - Part VI)
14. This Is The Time [bonus]
15. Incentive [bonus]
16. Nothing's Wrong [Heideroosjes cover][Japanese bonus]
17. Unleashed [duet version][iTunes bonus]

Dutch symphonic metallers Epica make their return in spectacular form with Design Your Universe, studio album number four. The band have grown over the years and Design Your Universe is the product of a confident and mature band. The album sees Epica at their most bombastic yet and also their most experimental.

Maybe not the most accessible album initially, weighing in at a hefty length but Design Your Universe is packed with quality content. As you would expect, Epica have once again produced an album with all their hallmarks. The music is inevitably built around Simone's ever growing sweet but powerful, theatrical, operatic style of singing backed up with more orchestral choirs and symphonies than ever before. The album is also the grittiest Epica have created. No longer is Epica a limp symphonic band for girls, but the harsh vocals also make their mark on Design Your Universe, especially with songs like the brilliant "Martyr Of The Free World" that in the chorus sounds exactly like what you'd imagine Amon Amarth to sound like if they played along a symphony orchestra. Not committing themselves to song templates or letting genre definitions define their music, Epica even show a glimpse of progressive flair with a nod towards Dream Theater during their fourteen-minute epic "Kingdom Of Heaven".

Still, the band take a lot of influence from other bands and incorporate them into Design Your Universe. Epica still don't have their own particular style or brand of music outside of the fascination with Simone. It might be nice to see the band really put their own stamp on a piece of metal, something to call their own style. Design Your Universe is a brilliant album of fantastic quality, but stylistically is just another symphonic metal album crying out for something innovative, something unique to just Epica.

Design Your Universe is largely a very varied album presenting both up-tempo, hard hitting numbers, but also soft, beautiful, charming ones such as "Tides Of Time", which must be one of the band's most magical pieces to date. The album has a lot of varied content with many parts sure to appeal to many people. The quality on the album makes an extremely long album feel as if it is a fraction of the length it actually is.

Although this is a pretty diverse piece of work, Design Your Universe has nothing groundbreaking to offer. However, what Epica offer with this album, is a symphonic metal album of the highest quality you'll hear all year. Design Your Universe is an extremely enjoyable glade of enchanting symphonic orchestration and operatic-lead heavy metal. This is Epica at their best yet, don't miss your chance with this one.


Symphonic metal
Nuclear Blast
The Netherlands
Length: 1:14:46

Rating breakdown
Performance: 9
Songwriting: 9
Originality: 8
Production: 10

Written on 16.10.2009 by Member of Staff since 2006

Guest review by
Two years after their previous record, Epica outdid themselves. When I heard the first notes of "Resign To Surrender", I said to myself that this is gonna be different. If you read my review on The Divine Conspiracy, you know my opinion. It was a good album but it could be much better and that's what frustrated me. Design Your Universe learned from its predecessor.

published 26.04.2020 | Comments (6)

Comments page 2 / 2

Comments: 48   [ 1 ignored ]   Visited by: 633 users
26.10.2009 - 00:35
Pagan Angel
I hate this album.
29.10.2009 - 23:50
Rating: 6
Whispering Gloom
This album is boring. If it was only 40 minutes long, it could be quite good. But almost 80 minutes
30.10.2009 - 15:59
Rating: 9

I really enjoy this album more and more with every listen. It's by far their best album.
08.11.2009 - 15:36
Rating: 8

Finally, this is the album I always longed from Epica. All previous efforts lacked something for me. They, most of the time, were too soft for me, but this one is a killer! It has all the elements I hoped from this band: heavyness, epicness (is that a word? ) and power. DYU has all three. Even Mark's growls improved. It's hard to name highlights, but without doubt, one of them is Kingdom of Heaven. Epic album. 10/10.
12.11.2009 - 19:13
Rating: 9
Jason W.
Sorry for taking so long to offer my opinions on this one, but due to my trip to see them amongst so many other bands in Belgium, I missed out on the release for nearly two weeks. When hearing the new tracks there live for the first time, I found many of them difficult to digest on first listen. "The Divine Consipiracy" was so accessible to me the first time around, but this time around DYU is more difficult. I'm totally with you on that.

After listening to it a few dozen times now and reading through all the lyrics (of course ), I'm fully enchanted by it, even if I could do without the totally overdone Bush Sr. quote of "read my lips etc..." (Seriously, didn't Megadeth use that back in 1992's "Foreclosure of a Dream"?). I still am confused by your statement that Epica doesn't have it's own style; I think there are numerous points in the new album that I instantly recognized as "ahh they did that same arrangement style!", which is one of the reasons why I love the band so much. But perhaps you are suggesting something that changes the face of metal, which really, how much does that happen? I'm just thrilled they continue to get heavier and more difficult with each album, as I much prefer that to lighter fare.

I'll take a mid or high 8 album any day
"After silence that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music." - Aldous Huxley
14.11.2009 - 02:51

I didnt like it unfortunately but it's sure contain some progressive elements . i rate 7
14.11.2009 - 07:14
Rating: 10
Sleeping Dragon

Easily 10/10 after listening to it at least 20 times or so. It took me the second time around to fully appreciate the more dynamic (moreso than earlier works) song structures and symphonic elements. Virtually all of the vocals and instrumentation is top-notch, and I cannot overstate that this is a must-have in the collection of symphonic metal fans who enjoy bands such as Within Temptation and Nightwish.

"Design Your Universe" is my favorite album release of 2009, so far at least.
15.11.2009 - 18:05
Rating: 9
Listened to the album for the first time yesterday. It's really good and very Epica as dismal says.

Dreams are made so we don't get bored when we sleep
25.12.2009 - 01:36
Rating: 10
Thor arise

When i listened to it the first time....I gave it 10/10!!! Just a perfect album!
24.01.2010 - 01:07

Written by Dani5050 on 16.10.2009 at 21:24

I like the album so far, they sure got heavier, unlike other bands, but I totally hate, really hate, the interlude, with obama , martin luther king and malcom x on it. Don't know why a dutch band have to do with these people. just my 2 cents.

I disagree, (and maybe im just biased as an African American) but I think civil rights activists and the first black president would be very appropriate when talking about the "price" of freedom. Great album and review btw.
24.01.2010 - 23:38
Rating: 9

Written by Metalhead777 on 24.01.2010 at 01:07

Written by Dani5050 on 16.10.2009 at 21:24

I like the album so far, they sure got heavier, unlike other bands, but I totally hate, really hate, the interlude, with obama , martin luther king and malcom x on it. Don't know why a dutch band have to do with these people. just my 2 cents.

I disagree, (and maybe im just biased as an African American) but I think civil rights activists and the first black president would be very appropriate when talking about the "price" of freedom. Great album and review btw.

I understand your point of view, but as I already said, they are dutch, and Obama haven't done anything yet. Who know maybe tomorrow they will regret having him in an album.
20.02.2010 - 04:30
Rating: 10

Hi all. New to this site.

This Epica masterpiece is the best album i've heard in a long time (maybe since How to Measure a planet? from my fav band The Gathering)

My story with Epica is a weird one. I had listened to them a few times, specially in last f.m. but never really liked them a lot. Man, What a change!!! In September i went to Vagos Open air, here in Portugal, and first night was Epica, Katatonia and then, yes, The Gathering, even without Anneke, i loved the West Pole. Ok but first band on stage... Epica. Omg, when the amazing Indigo satrted playng, man, what a ride. Simply Epica gave, by far, the best show of the night, (it was day when they started ). Enough said about my story. Then i bought their last work, and it were the best ? i have ever spent.

Amazing, Epic is how i describe this album. Every time you listen to it gets better and better. It has all one (at least me) can expect from a Metal band. Perfect work, Perfect singer, Perfect Melodies, Amazing heavyness, Amazing Epic (Kingdom of Heaven already in my favorite songs ever), Perfect Orchestration, in sum an incredible masterpiece achieved by Epica.

For me they grow more and more from album to album, and this one is for sure their best work so far (and, hey, now i love their previous work also, but this one...)

10 without any doubt.

I recommend this album to anyone, it's already in my top 10 albuns ever. And i really heard many many many many metal albuns at my age of 31.
Beware the Shadows of Dusk
04.04.2010 - 00:22
Fat & Sassy!

Has anyone seen the music video for Unleashed? I was so fucking confused the whole six minutes. It was like they took a Nickelback or Hoobastank video and spliced Epica into it. Fucking terrible. >:(
21.11.2010 - 06:16
The Sasquatch
Epica has to be one of the most consistent metal bands, it is very hard to pick out one bad song out of their entire discography. However, while I think that all of their songs are very good, its hard for me to find an excellent song.
07.12.2010 - 01:36

Oh... I never listen Epica and this is my first album. up to second song... quite fantastic!
---- blog >>>
16.12.2010 - 01:02

Most definitely my favorite album from Epica thus far. While the whole album is overall fantastic, stand out's are Resign to Surrender, Unleashed, Martyr of the Free Word, Kingdom of Heaven, Burn To A Cinder, Tides Of Time, Deconstruct and Semblance of Liberty. So basically most of the album. Personally, I think Simone's voice has really reached a pinnacle on this album, her performance is amazing on every track. Not to say her singing on TDC was bad, but this album really showcases how impressive she sings. Mark's vocals have improved as well, and overall the whole package is well worth picking up.

On a side note, saw them in concert about a week ago here in California. Since metal isn't as big here in the states, they played at a small little venue in my hometown. It was such an amazing experience being up front at the center of the stage, 5 feet away from the band members. The whole experience was mind blowing and I swear Simone sounds even better live then she does on a studio album. I was glad to hear a couple of my favorites that night though, such as "Cry for the Moon, Chasing the Dragon and Consign to Oblivion" alongside their new line up. And Tides Of Time is even more amazing live
05.02.2011 - 22:50
The Sasquatch
I agree with this review. Epica does not have a unique style, but they are able to craft the perfect symphonic metal.... Every time.

my rating is a 9 or 8. 10 on every category, but it loses some points on originality. Do I mind? Of course not, its still pure magical music.
07.10.2011 - 16:39

For me, it's Epica's best album to date- the band's heavier sound is merging great with Simone's voice and the Prog flourishments are always welcome at my stereo.
Li'ed - Prog-Metal from Jerusalem

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