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Metal and classical music share a lot of similarities, and when they come together it makes something amazing. Epica are the masters of it, the symphonic metal group proving so with their seventh album, The Holographic Principle.
The Holographic Principle is a concept album of sorts. Not in the storytelling way, necessarily, but thematically. The album is set in a universe created digital generated though a hologram. Guitarist Mark Jansen continued the explanation, saying that the theory is possible, even discussed by scientists.
The music certainly plays to the theme. Riddled with dramatic, cinematic orchestras and larger than life soundscapes, this album truly sounds like a space opera put to an album. The intro track puts it all into perspective. The blaring horns of ' ' and its pounding drums create an epic cinematic scene, as if you're watching an armada descend onto Earth as an interstellar war begins. The theme continues with single 'Edge Of The Blade', symphonic punctuations adding Simone Simons' huge vocals and the massive choruses.
Cinematics continue in 'Universal Death Squad', the pretty intro leading to thumping drums and an electric guitar solo. The album's ending 'The Holographic Principle - A Profound Understanding Of Reality' summarizes the album sonically, big orchestras and epic guitars building up its huge eleven minute run time. While massive, it does feel... inconclusive in the end.
What the issues sees in its latter half is a continuously underwhelming experience. Not necessarily in the way of saying the songs aren't big, but in the way that the beginning of the album was so huge that it set a big precedent that the album just didn't live up to. 'The Cosmic Algorithm', for example, as a standalone is a big song, but feels underwhelming when listening through the album. The song's slightly more uplifting, if not just generally more positive than other tracks.
There's some experimentation on the record, too, giving it some flavor. 'Dancing In A Hurricane' has eastern vibes, adding some adventurous and mysterious scenes to the already action packed album. Quieter, sweet moments can be found in the bridge of 'Beyond The Matrix', serving as a reprieve from the chaos of this spacial war, while the acoustic track 'Once Upon A Nightmare' starts off dark and acoustically before eventually building into another monstrous track.
Epica has shown time and time again that they can bring symphony and metal to the same plate in flying colors, and the epic space opera of The Holographic Principle shows it. While the album's beginning outshines its end in grandness, the entire stands alone as an epic movie soundtrack that plays through your mind while you listen through. Another big album that shows Epica's threat is here.
Favorite Tracks: Edge Of The Blade, Eidola, Divide and Conquer
Least Favorite Tracks: Ascension - Dream State Armageddon, The Holographic Principle - A Profound Understanding Of Reality
Rating: 75 / 100