December 1, 2022

Epica – The Alchemy Project Review

Released by: Atomic Fire Records

Release date: November 11, 2022

Genre: Symphonic Metal


Line up:

Simone Simons – vocals

Mark Jansen – guitars, vocals

Isaac Delahaye – Guitars

Rob van der Loo – Bass

Coen Janssen – Keyboards

Ariën van Weesenbeek – Drums, Vocals

List of tracks:

1. The Great Tribulation (feat. Fleshgod Apocalypse)

2. Wake the World (with Phil Lanzon and Tommy Karevik)

3. The Last Lullaby (feat. Shining)

4. Sirens – Of Blood and Water (with Charlotte Wessels and Myrkur)

5. Death Is Not The End (with Bjorn “Speed” Strid and Frank Schiphorst)

6. Human Devastation (with Henri Sattler and Sven de Caluwé)

7. The Miner (with Asim Searah, Niilo Sevänen and Roel van Helden)

It’s always fun to see different bands and musicians collaborate on special releases, as it allows fans to hear some of their favorite artists working together, as well as possibly hearing them experiment with genres you wouldn’t expect to hear. of them. At this point, Dutch symphonic metal band Epica are one of my absolute favorites around the world, so I’ll instantly get excited for whatever they release, whether it’s a full album, an EP, a live album or whatever. When I heard they were releasing The Alchemy Project, a 7 track EP, all with collaborations with different artists, I was quite intrigued to see what the band would come up with. Obviously, I wasn’t expecting a cohesive album or anything that would match some of my favorite works by the band, such as The Quantum Enigma or Design Your Universe, but I still had high expectations, and luckily, the group delivered, as always!

As mentioned above, The Alchemy Project is a special type of release, since each track here was written and performed in collaboration with members of different bands, allowing for many different perspectives to influence the release. As such, while I will say that I like the entire version as a whole and can easily listen to it over and over, I think it’s best to review it track by track. Needless to say, I won’t spend much time here talking about the overall sound quality (it’s excellent, as always), the band’s musicianship (obviously top-notch), or Simone Simons and Mark’s vocals. Jansen (one of my favorite parts of the band), and instead focus on the songs themselves, especially the guest contributions.

Kicking things off is “The Great Tribulation,” featuring symphonic death metal band Fleshgod Apocalypse. I’d say it’s probably the most typical Epica track here, opening with epic symphonic arrangements and choral vocals before the big guitars kick in, and the verses alternate nicely between the two lead singers. . The track alternates nicely between heavy mid-tempo verses, explosive high-tempo instrumentals, and a slow, melodic chorus with excellent vocal melodies. Thing is, while everything is great, especially the chorus, I’m having trouble identifying what Fleshgod Apocalypse contributed to the track, and I don’t mean that in an offensive way or anything: I really feel most, if not all of what I hear here, I feel like it could have been done by Epica themselves. I guess some of those extra intense instrumental parts maybe have a bit more of a tech death feel to them, but even then, it’s not like Epica haven’t had some extreme metal elements before. Either way, it’s a great track, and I’m sure people who know Fleshgod Apocalypse better than I do (I’m more of a casual fan of their music) will have an easier time spotting their work.

Next is “Wake the World,” a track where guest contributions are very immediately apparent. It’s also one of my personal favorites here, thanks to its rather unique sound that’s unlike anything I’ve heard from the band before. It’s a fairly rhythmic track overall, with calm verses and a very strong melodic chorus with excellent symphonic arrangements, as well as excellent backing vocals from Kamelot/Seventh Wonder vocalist Tommy Karevik, who also sings the second verse and delivers some cool “Woah-oh” vocals between the verses. The other guest here is Uriah Heep’s keyboardist Phil Lanzon, and while I’m not too familiar with his work, his keys here have a very retro sound to them, which combines with the main riff to give the song a bit of a of hard rock. feel, as well as moving somewhat into spatial prog metal territory at times. Some of the instrumental parts remind me of things Arjen Lucassen has done before, especially with his Star One albums, and it’s not something I expected to hear from Epica. All of this, combined with the epic backing vocals and chorus, helps make the song an instant classic.

The first track I heard was of course the lead single “The Final Lullaby”, and despite the name it’s definitely not good sleep music for infants, lol Indeed this song shows the darker side heaviest of the band, with lots of heavy riffs and a good mix between Jansen’s hard voice and Simon’s still beautiful clear voice, with rather intense verses, while the chorus is very beautiful and melodic, despite the dark lyrics. The guests this time are the avant-garde Norwegian band Shining, who immediately stand out by adding some nice instrumental flourishes, which give the track a light jazz feel (especially the saxophone, which excels in the solo section, as well as a cool take on the main riff towards the end.) Jørgen Munkeby delivers some pretty lively vocals during the verses, to go along with a bit of narration at one point, and he does a fantastic job of fitting in. All in all a fantastic track, showing the band at their heaviest and most intense, while having fantastic melodies, great symphonic arrangements and one of my favorite choruses they’ve ever written, which certainly says a lot.

Unsurprisingly, there’s a calm between the storms in the form of “Sirens – Of Blood and Water,” a very beautiful ballad featuring former Delain singer Charlotte Wessels and solo artist Myrkur. Musically, it’s a beautiful track, with epic symphonic arrangements, as well as a sort of film score feel, although unsurprisingly the instrumentation is quite minimal, with the three singers being the stars of the show, and all all three deliver fantastic performance. Wessels and Myrkur each sing a verse and rendition of the chorus, then Simons joins them for a fantastic bridge, as well as the final chorus, and all three deliver excellent, hauntingly beautiful singing vocals throughout. , to help set the tone. .

It doesn’t take long for things to get heavy again, with “Death is Not the End” being one of the band’s most Melo death-infused tracks, as well as perhaps a slight metalcore edge to some of the riffs. Either way, it’s a very fast and heavy track, with voluminous guitar work, mixed with the usual epic symphonic arrangements and choral vocals. Jansen’s MaYan bandmate Frank Schiphorst provides guitar work throughout, while Soilwork vocalist Bjorn “Speed” Strid takes center stage during the verses, delivering his signature screaming vocals, as well than a duet with Simons with his clear voice during the chorus, which is fantastic. While “Speed” shines during the verses, Jansen also manages to provide his harsh vocals, especially during an explosive section towards the end, where the drums get super intense and crazy. Overall, it’s a really fun track, and I especially enjoy hearing the vocals from “Speed,” as it’s always been one of my favorites.

Next is “Human Devastation”, featuring guest vocals from Aborted frontman Sven de Caluwé and Henri Sattler from God Dethroned (who also provides lead guitar work, I believe.) I don’t know of either band, but both guests do a great job all along the track. Unlike “The Great Tribulation”, this is a track that would clearly never have been done by Epica themselves, as it has no symphonic elements or clean vocals, but rather a pure onslaught of death metal thrash, with fast and furious tempos. , pounding riffs, pounding drums and powerful, harsh vocals from both guests, as well as Jansen. It’s not the kind of track I would usually want from the band, but as part of a collaborative EP like this, it fits in well, and it’s a really fun track on its own.

Closing the EP is “The Miner”, another more traditional sounding Epica track, with a very cinematic feel. Overall, it’s a more atmospheric and melodic track, with a strong emphasis on symphonic elements, as well as a slight folksy feel to some melodies. There are bursts of heaviness, but these feel pretty subdued, for the most part, with the verses and chorus feeling quite soft and vocal-focused. Guests here include Powerwolf drummer Roel van Heiden, who I know quite well, as well as Insomnium vocalist Niilo Sevänen, who I know a bit, and Damnation Plan vocalist Asim Searah, who I’ve never heard before , but it sounds excellent on this Track. Speaking of which, Searah takes the lead on the opening verse while dueting with Simons on the chorus, and he has a very deep voice, with a unique flavor, which sounds very nice, so his vocal parts are quite excellent. The heaviest section of the track comes during the bridge, where the guitars suddenly become more focused and intense, while Sevänen delivers his deep, vicious growls to help add an extra dose of energy to the track. It’s a great track overall, and it closes the EP really well.

For obvious reasons, The Alchemy Project isn’t a recommended starting point for anyone looking to discover Epica, as it’s an experimental EP laden with guest contributions, but dedicated fans of the band should find a lot to enjoy here, while fans of the it would also be highly recommended that any special guests involved listen to at least the tracks that interest them. and I sure wouldn’t mind hearing the band do more stuff like that from time to time, between full albums.

Rating: 9/10

Written by: travis green

My overall mind – Personal editor

Travis Green is a Canadian writer for My Global Mind, with a particular passion for power metal, as well as an interest in metal in all its forms.

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