July 16, 2018 Epica – Epica vs. Attack on Titan (EP Review)
If you are a Symphonic Metal lover and/or a fan of Anime, the best thing to happen in your life is going to be the brand-new EP, Epica vs. Attack on Titan, which comes to us via Epica (duh) and Nuclear Blast Records on Friday, July 20, 2018.
The Dutch Symphonic Metal sextet Epica formed in 2002 and has been weaving intensely beautiful, sonic tales for the past fifteen years now. With seven full-length studio albums to their credit – from 2003’s The Phantom Agony to 2016’s The Holographic Principle – Epica has become known for quality Metal with a massive sound. So, what better way to prove their sonic prowess than to tackle music inspired by a popular Anime series?
Epica vs. Attack on Titan does just this, a collection of tracks based off Attack on Titan, the popular post-apocalyptic/dark fantasy Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Hajime Isayama that was turned into an Anime TV series for Adult Swim’s Toonami. While the EP was originally released in December 2017 in Japan, the collection is finally finding its way to us here in the U.S. in time for one truly epic summer – and it is worth a listen, for sure!
For the collection, Epica – Vocalist Simone Simons, Guitarist/Dirty Vocalist Mark Jansen, Guitarist Isaac Delahaye, Bassist Rob van der Loo, Drummer Ariën van Weesenbeek, and Keyboardist Coen Janssen –provide an EP composed of 8 tracks, 4 of which are instrumental versions of their predecessors. So, while the bulk of the songs clock in at nearly 6-minutes in-length, making this a hefty little package, it is, in fact, actually, in a sense, a 4-song offering. Do you follow that math?
Epica vs. Attack on Titan sees Epica going bold from the get-go with the rocking “Crimson Bow and Arrow,” anchored by an oft jack-hammering drum beat around which delicious symphonics and those beauty and the beast vocals can truly soar; the end result is a track that feels like an epic score fully worthy of Anime. There is a regal promenade that leads into “Wings of Freedom,” where chugging guitars hold down the fort for Simons’ flying vocal theatrics, then they unleash hell with Jansen’s sinister growls that add a devious perfection to the already impressive mix.
There is an almost Broadway-esque feel to “If Inside These Walls Was a House,” a beautifully-composed, sweeping orchestral number that builds into the full band, rocking out as they do. Then, they go full-throttle from moment numero uno of “Dedicate Your Heart!,” a driving rocker that launches the band toward the stratosphere with bold, saucy layers that provide a wall of heavenly symphonic sound. In wrapping the entire thing up with a wonderful bow, Epica has exercised some serious foresight. If you love these new tracks but are a little concerned that they might mess with your flow while gaming, thankfully, the band have included four instrumental offerings – one for each of the previous tracks – that are perfect for experiencing the epic-ness without those ‘distracting’ vocals.
Even if you have never seen a single episode of Anime or touched a Manga book, Epica vs. Attack on Titan still holds weight as another excellent offering from this superbly-talented Dutch outfit. In other words, it is not necessary to know the ins and outs of the characters in this story-line, in fact, all you really need is a set of ears that are open to some fabulous Symphonic Metal from a sextet who are masters at the art they create. Here, they go bold with massive arrangements that are worthy of Broadway, storytelling that is as steeped in the theatrical vocal performances of Simons and Jansen as it is the sonic mastery of the entire band. To say bravo feels like a bit of an understatement, as Epica has crafted a set of four songs with an album’s worth of staying power. For these reasons, CrypticRock gives Epica’s Epica vs. Attack on Titan EP 5 of 5 stars.