Mind you, that’s not lightly said for a band like Epica. Formed by composer Mark Jansen after leaving After Forever back in 2002, they quickly gained attention outside their home country, taking big steps towards becoming the leading symphonic metal superpower they have long proven to be. After their ambitious debut The Phantom Agony (2002) and the surprisingly eclectic sophomore work, Consign To Oblivion (2005), the road took them to new heights via their first concept masterpiece, The Divine Conspiracy (2007) and their global breakthrough, Design Your Universe (2009).
However, especially 2012’s opus, Requiem For The Indifferent, 2014’s bedazzling, The Quantum Enigma and their finest, most embellished effort yet, The Holographic Principle (2016), cemented their reputation as not only one of the hardest working metal bands in the business but also as one of the best. Period. With Omega, the final part of the metaphysical trilogy they began with The Quantum Enigma, they reclaim the throne without so much as the blink of an eye.
On their past seven records so far, they soared from gothic undertones to a broad, epic and triumphant amalgamation of all things monolithic, establishing their unique brand of unparalleled vocal excellence by Simone Simons with a band both ready to tear down venues around the globe while at the same time installing orchestral splendour, progressive elegance, oriental enchantment, cinematic soundscapes and colossal fury into their trailblazing, bombshell sound. “We have long found our sound,” says Mark Jansen, “but within that sound, there is lots of room for evolution. We always try to reinvent ourselves, to bring in refreshing elements.” And this massive, shape-shifting beast of a new album is the logical climax of their history.
For more than 15 years, the band pressed the pedal to the metal, passionately touring the globe time and again. After what Simone Simons describes as, “having been sitting in a high-speed train without stopping at any destination whatsoever,” the band in 2018 decided it was high time for a well-deserved rest. As soon as the The Holographic Principle cycle came to a close with their 1000th show, the band went into hiatus. Alright, alright, they still finished their very first autobiography, The Essence of Epica during that time, but you just can’t expect a band like Epica sitting still, idly twiddling their thumbs now, can you? “It was the first real break we allowed ourselves,” Simone Simons says. “It did us all good and gave us a chance to reflect on what’s been happening since 2003. It all went by so fast.” Realizing how much Epica accomplished made them far from satisfied. Indeed, it rekindled the fire in their hearts, bringing them back together sooner than expected.
For the first time in years, they congregated in a villa in the pastoral beauty of rural Holland, setting up their temporary studio in several rooms. For one intense week of renewed bonding and creativity, they accumulated their ideas, they jammed, they wrote, they discussed. Above all, however, they just spent time together as friends. Just like in the old days before the members scattered across four countries. “For the first time in ages, we were working together in the same room, starting on each other’s ideas as early as never before.” Mark Jansen states, “This, made the album more coherent. For us, it was the only logical way to lift Epica to the next level. We had such a free flow of inspiration that we all agreed we would be extending this stay for the next album.”