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Album Review // 2022-11-03

Epica

The Alchemy Project

Released: 2022-11-11


This is the first album I have ever heard by Epica. Honestly, I haven't been drawn to them, just knowing the genre. But my Facebook feed is constantly bombarding me with pictures of Simone, trying to lure me into seeing what the band is like. I only realized after making the decision to review this album that it is full to the brim with guest musicians and co-writers. I chose to continue anyways, though I am realizing now, maybe another album by Epica would have been a better starting point.

It sounds like the band is used to collaborating together as a group, since they are all involved with composition. Collaborating with other bands may have come fairly naturally.

Epica seems like a good name for this band. The music has an epic quality. It feels like it needs attention, and to take center stage.

The album name, The Alchemy Project, is odd; my guess is that it is referring to the way an alchemist would search for the elixir that is needed - maybe this album is looking at problems that need solving. In reality, there is always something that needs a solution.

Album Artwork

I find this rather cheezy, but it is a creative way to bring all the members into the picture. The men look so lame, and Simone looks hot. She is the driving force in this picture, while they fade into the background. It is a weird dynamic, to me. It looks like the cover of a board game.

Mood

Overall, for me, the mood here felt kind of fairy tale-esque, almost to the point where I questioned why they didn't do some music for Disney shows. I wasn't surprised to find out Simone enjoys singing Disney songs to her child, especially from Sleeping Beauty (info I found out after). And I also found out they did do a film score, which also makes sense to me. I was expecting a platform to rise out of the ocean and a mythological goddess to start singing. A few songs seemed to be painting a more aggressive tale, like the battle scene, as the goddess must fight the antagonist god. But, overall there was a tone of fear, but resilience.

Vocals

There is no questioning talent here. As expected, Simone has a beautiful singing voice. She is dedicated to training her voice and has a desire for improvement. She has enlisted her vocal teacher to help her with her parts, even as she worked on them during album recordings in the past. She is super hardworking and dedicated. Simone's voice is well-articulated and can be easily understood. In many songs, such as The Final Lullabye, her voice was the standout amidst the various vocals. I wasn't surprised that she was hitting some high notes. I was more surprised by her lower notes, as seen in Sirens - Of Blood and Water, and then I realized it wasn't actually her that was hitting them. It was guest vocalists Wessels and Myrkur. I was also surprised by the use of male vocals, though I shouldn't be, since it seems to permeate this genre. When I first heard the growly vocal come in I rolled my eyes and thought, oh, another band with the male/female combo... But in the end, if I am being honest, I liked the male vocal when it is embracing the deepest growls on it's own, the most. It is more what I feel comfortable with. And I also discovered there were several male vocalists on this album. In The Final Lullabye there were hints of Dream Theater's James Labrie, though it isn't him. The spoken parts I can do without, but I guess they make you feel like there is a story to tell, like a book being read or dialogue in a show. The chanty singing parts were a little much for me, but completely expected with the adventure/epic type of music, almost like the vocals are carrying you forward in your quest. During some parts, the backing vocals were so full, they felt like a choir, and chances are, they are a choir. Apparently, Epica has used choirs in their music in the past.

Music

This band is full of talent. I think this album helped me to realize that I like symphonic music more than I thought I did. I kept on thinking if we slipped a different vocal in with some of these songs, I would find them quite enjoyable. But how many more vocals could we really add? There were a lot of them. I think, more than anything, I don't have a preference for melodic music and vocals. I prefer some parts to be more consistently harsh. There sure was a lot going on, here. From keyboard and guitar, to saxophone and organ. The sound they had in a couple songs made me think of 80's fantasy movies. The odd tone to everything. They switched up quite a lot with both instruments and pace. With the song Wake The World being an example of a very slow, soft song, and Human Devastation on the other end, being faster and harsher. The blast beats were one of the biggest surprises for me. I didn't expect to hear any. And I wonder if the variances between songs are uncharacteristic and more a result of the collaboration. I guess I will have to check out another album sometime to know.

The Great Tribulation

Fleshgod Apocalypse's vocalist is featured in this song. It opened up the album in a way I expected, sounding dramatic and theatrical, with blast beats and growls in contrast.

I think the words in this song are addressing living in tumultuous times, feeling a sense of fear and danger.

This moment we live in will drive us faster to the arms of solitude
This torment will force us to open up the doors to our awakening
This moment we live in will drive us faster to the arms of solitude
This torment will force us to open up the doors to our awakening

Wake the World

Featuring Uriah Heep and Kamelot members. The 70's sound to this wasn't expected, mixed with heightened and chanty moments.

Seems like a desire to bring the hurting world together with music, to move forward feeling a little lighter.

The time will come, turn dreams into melody, by bringing our hearts together
A simple truth, a song to wake the world, and light the way forever
whoah, whoah

No time to waste, not time to change, no tomorrow
All that we see is born from sorrow
Is this a dream, don't know what's real
The world is crying
A seed withing begins to bloom into a symphony

The Final Lullabye

Featuring Shining band members, bringing both vocal and saxophone. Though I think the saxophone felt out of place.

Again these lyrics seems to be about a dangerous world, to the point where it is going to end.

They're gonna burn this world down to the ground
Guns are going off, can't hear a sound
Toxic in the air, I can hear you pray
Will you stay with me? Can you hear what I say?

Sirens - Of Blood and Water

Trio of vocals on this one, featuring Wessels and Myrkur. Together, they share the vocal duties and present a haunting song, but not the heaviest one. My mom could easily listen to this, and maybe like it...

This just brought my mind to mermaids trying to lure sailors to their death. The water here is associated with danger and death.

Will you take this dagger from me
come into the water cause it gets deeper
I miss you

See this knife is sharp, plunge it into his heart
Sing a song to the heavens for all of the stars
Shed no tears over him, guilt and sorrow don't swim
Once you dance on the waves, she will find love
Soft way to bring voices together

Death is Not the End

Featuring Soilwork and MaYan members, this track takes on a faster pace, where a death metal riff can be heard, and where Simone's vocals are the background.

I guess this song, again, is speaking of danger and maybe the possibility of death, but it sounds like it is being pushed away as something that isn't the worst thing.

Dig deep within, the chains of fear are waning in
He has the key to rise above the ......?
Breathe through my final breath, fear of my memory
Tears, death is not the end
Blood allover your hands

Human Devastation

The heaviest song, featuring blast beats. I guess it is no surprise Aborted and God Dethroned members are featured in this song.

The devastation and destructive state of the world is coming on in this song's lyrics, that I could barely make out.

Madness surrounds me, chaos erupting
Madness within me
Madness within you

The Miner

Powerwolf, Insomnium, and Damnation members are featured in this song. Asim Searah and Simone duet on this one.

The words end the album on a continued journey to the unknown. There is a loneliness to it.

Suffocated by this ring, in search of the endless treasure that glitters in the gold
Crowning dust of mystery, just to own a few pieces of pleasure
All that is bitter will unfold
Through these tunnels I walk alone, for I will claim the throne
Though this darkness burns my soul

Breathing into this fantasy, just to choke on these desperate measures
Swiftly drifting into the unknown

Playlist Pick

This is not my style of music. I will admit, a few songs were stuck in my head over the time I was listening to this album, over and over (even now). The songs were The Great Tribulation, and Sirens - Of Blood and Water, which led me to wonder if I should put one on my playlist. The truth is, my favourite song was Human Devastation, which I realize is nothing like this band normally is. And because of that, I think it wouldn't be fair to but it on my list. I will put none on my playlist, to keep things genuine.

Overall Rating
3

Readers' Average Rating
6

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