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“We Will Take You With Us” (DVD) by Epica

Artist: Epica
Title: “We Will Take You With Us”
Label: The End/Transmission Records
Release Date: 8/9/2005
Genre: Symphonic Gothic Metal
Rating: 7/10

Released in tandem for the CD bearing the same name Epica gives us the visual side to “We Will Take You With Us”. Filmed in the studio as the band recorded the CD, this DVD shows the group playing their hearts out in a very non-descript room with their full choir and string sections. Fans of the CD or their debut release “The Phantom Agony” will enjoy this right off the bat but I feel that new fans might not be so taken with it. It is a simple reasoning on the way this is laid out for given that this is a studio session recording it does not offer you much in the visual sense and can come across as quite boring when you realize you are just watching them play with limited motion or sitting. Mark Jansen speaks before almost every song but this is in Dutch with no subtitles. This should have been addressed before issuing this product on the world at large as I know that I would have found it nice to understand what he was talking about before each song. Performance wise this is a great product as their level of play is incredible and while the acoustic numbers are nice I leaned towards the full band and symphonic pieces that make up the early section of the performance. There is one main difference in the DVD from the CD and that is in the omission of the German version of “Run For A Fall” which was included as a bonus on the CD. It should have been left on the DVD to be honest, there was no reason to cut it.
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“We Will Take You With Us” by Epica

Artist: Epica
Title: “We Will Take You With Us”
Label: The End/Transmission Records
Release Date: 8/9/2005
Genre: Symphonic Metal
Rating: 8/10

Dutch Symphonic Metal sensation Epica bring us a very special recording as a follow-up to their debut album “The Phantom Agony”. On “We Will Take You With Us (2 Meter Sessies) the group presents to the listener a “live-in the studio” recording of their entire debut album with strings and full choir. To make sure that this is not taken as a clone of the first album the group also offers a couple of these numbers performed acoustically and features one unreleased song. This was a band that I found quite by accident when I was looking into After Forever. When I read that Epica (formerly called Sahara Dust) was formed by the guitarist who had left After Forever I knew this would be in the vein of music that I was appreciating. Mark Jansen’s discovery of Simone Simons allowed him to being a different level of player to the Operatic Fronted Metal band and this is surely not a secondary version of his former group either. A singer like Simone Simons brings the Mezzo Soprano as band superstar a possibility and showcasing an album where they perform live in a closed setting shows you that this group can indeed play and does so with very little difference from the fully recorded and produced release “The Phantom Agony”. Those that already own the debut might find this interesting more for the variations and the bonus tracks.
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“Consign To Oblivion” by Epica

Artist: Epica
Title: “Consign To Oblivion”
Label: The End/Transmission Records
Release Date: 10/11/2005
Genre: Symphonic Metal
Rating: 7.5/10

Holland’s Epica are one of those bands that are following a great path of music forged in the footsteps of bands such as Nightwish and Therion. They do this by combining Symphonic music with powerful Metal riffs mixed with the elements that their Mezzo Soprano lead singer brings to the table. The group also employs a full choir and that brings so much more of their music to life. As you listen you will find some traits of these bands but also a spark of originality that makes for a good overall listen. Epica was founded by After Forever’s Mark Jansen who left that band and began working with Simone Simons. Simone’s voice is as amazing as she is beautiful and from the moment I heard their debut “The Phantom Agony” I knew this was going to be a band I would be interested in. There are many who call this group a second rate After Forever simply because the band utilizes the clean operatic style and the gruff Black Metal growls at points in the music like they do. It also doesn’t help the comparison when both groups feature a standout female vocalist. As someone who has listened to and reviewed both bands I would have to disagree for each one offers the listener something different. There are some similar writing styles as Jansen was a principal writer in After Forever yet with Epica there are more clean Male vocals than the growls used in the former band. Epica also slows it down a little more hitting a couple of ballads on the record where AF maintains a generally heavy course. I like both Floor Jansen and Simone Simons and rather than debate which one is better feel that anyone who enjoys Operatic Power Metal or Symphonic Metal should give each group a fair shot at an unbiased listen.
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“The Phantom Agony” by Epica

Artist: Epica
Title: “The Phantom Agony”
Label: Transmission Records
Release Date: 3/9/2004
Genre: Symphonic Goth
Rating: 8.5/10

For many years the Heavy Metal world was missing the presence of talented women vocalists. Of course we had the wonderful Doro Pesch and Lita Ford but they were clearly few and far between. However, the past several years have seen this void filled to a very satisfying capacity. We can now count on the existence of bands that are fronted by these amazing singers who add both beauty and grace to music as powerful and complex as their voices. Joining the ranks of Tarja Turunen (Nightwish) & Floor Jansen (After Forever) is Simone Simons of Epica.
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