Genre: Symphonic/Gothic Metal
Yes, it’s necessary. To make clear what I think about Epica. I don’t know how this will go on in the future but I’m listening to this album since some time so I think I’m able to evaluate it.Some facts for the beginning: "The Phantom Agony" is the first Epica album. For joining Epica Mark Jansen left After Forever after the album "Decipher" which was released in 2001. If you have been listening to both albums you will soon hear that at least 60% of the music is written by the same person.
Well, there are some big differences and After Forever had something Epica don’t have: A highly gifted singer. I also have to say that Epica, like Nightwish, mix soundtrack-typical elements into metal and After Forever didn’t because this wasn’t the idea of the band.
Back to Epica and their first album. The structure of it is pretty much a poorer After Forever and that’s it. Epica have some nice and catchy songs as such. I don’t have to tell you anything about "Cry For The Moon", "Feint", "Sensorium" or "The Phantom Agony". All of them are a bit slower, not really guitar-heavy, also actually not too hard to assimilate or something absurd. But. The big flaws Epica have on this album are 1. The fact that the background and choir singers are better than Simone (I just say Laura Macrì, Amanda Sommerville...) and that they are much louder than her, 2. The choirs which have been deployed to heavilly, which shows us once again Simones singing qualities (or not), and 3. The same structures of the songs which just annoy me at some point because everything sounds like the same.
None can deny the effect of the catchy songs which even give me goosebumbs sometimes. When I’m listening to "Cry For The Moon" I’m headbanging like crazy as if it’s death metal. The lyrics and the melodies are well conceived and turned out beautiful, the growls are great like on every album Mark Jansen is working at as a singer, but I’ve already heard all that before. But it’s not dear Mister Jansens fault, who is lingering over the beautiful things in metal after his, originally a symphonic death metal, project After Forever has been changed into gothic because of Floor Jansen and his girlfriend picked up classical singing and he is been playing with her in the same band although they already broke up. But since 2010 he has MaYaN and he can live up to metal again as he wanted to since 1995, can’t he?
Ok, no kidding. I think the first album is pretty weak although it is attractive. It’s a bit like Amaranthe, you know every flaw of the band and its music but there is something behind it. Comparing with Epica I really like the vocals most in Amaranthe and that’s the thing. After listening to some real mezzos and sopranos in metal or in general Simone seems like a bad joke but I have to admit that she got better.
She doesn’t sound false or not enough trained like Amy Lee for example but she annoys me when she tries too hard to sing songs which don’t apply her voice and are too high for her. Her voice is really beautiful, full of melody and powerful in an alto range and I don’t mind admitting that. But you need some singing skills for symphonic metal which she doesn’t have.
And although there is not much to say about „The Phantom Agony“ this review turned out immensely long. Sorry, guys, but I need to justify a 5/10 rating. And I can summarize this whole article in one sentence: This is pure average.
Listen to "Feint", "Sensorium", "The Phantom Agony" and "Cry For The Moon" because these songs are the best on the whole album. The rest is pretty boring. Stone me. Let’s go.
Highlights: Sensorium, Facade Of Reality, Cry For The Moon