EP REVIEW: The Solace System – Epica

EPICA, the female fronted powerhouse and Dutch masters of symphonic metal that bleed with influence from progressive metal, thrash metal and electro mashups, surprise everyone with this under the grid release which is a mere six tracks long, The Solace System is an incredible burst of energy and passion from the depths of their talent. The Solace System is an EP which contains songs that were said to have been written for The Holographic Principle (their latest release from last year) but were never actually placed on the album.

EPICA seem to have really recently hit their peak in music as everything they produce in later years seems so incredibly organic and doesn’t have any feeling of forced sound. While often compared to the likes of NIGHTWISH, they truly do bring something new and different to the table which is so hard to explain without sounding like a bad pun on the name of the band. “Epic”.

The flow of The Solace System is so amazingly smooth, it’s like having a backstage pass to unreleased and unheard songs from their previous album. It opens with a symphonic blessing of almost orchestral style sound which really encapsulates the depth and passion of the band, there truly was no other choice for a title track and there’s no hiding it halfway through the album, EPICA have burst out of the gates with this opener showing that they really are not holding back whatsoever. The vocalist, Simone Simons has an astonishing range and amazing talent for portraying the intensity and flare in their unique songs. Fight your demons is full of vocal contrast between the backup growls and atmospheric highs of her amazing symphonies.

A small break between the tracks as we reach Architect of light which opens with a chime like musical introduction accompanied with the incredible orchestral backing which wouldn’t be out of place on the scene of a battlefield.
EPICA somehow have this talent of always encapsulating such energy within their sound while still keeping intact the integrity of their style.

While Architect of Light is one of the longer tracks on the album; it often feels like it shifts between different songs; which is by no means a negative reflection of it. It keeps the sound fresh and is an absolute riff fest of a journey through a showcase of unbelievable talent, representing the incredible variety of influences. The fourth track brings us back to the shredding style of EPICA showing that they aren’t strangers to writing songs that will get crowds moving. This song in its entirety is so amazingly strong and has a unique flow that will keep heads banging and minds blown throughout. This is also the case for the final and closing track Decoded Poetry. This ending to the EP has such an atmospheric and surreal feeling and is the perfect way for EPICA to close this marvel of their abilities. While sometimes seeming like a more simplistic track on the record, it really has no need to overcomplicate itself. A six and a half minute track with a welcoming interlude of choir-like vocals brings the EP to a perfect end.

Fans of EPICA will find themselves overwhelmed with this new six track release as The Holographic Principle is still so fresh in many people’s minds. But thirsts for epic, incredible and unique sound will surely be quenched as they have really outdone themselves. It’s almost shocking that these songs could have easily gone unheard of and slipped under the radar. The fans will be so grateful for this extended insight into the musical world of EPICA.

Rating: 9/10

The Solace System - Epica

The Solace System is out now via Nuclear Blast Records.

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