01. Adyta (The Neverending Embrace)
03. Cry For The Moon (The Embrace That Smothers - Part IV)
05. Illusive Consensus
06. Façade Of Reality (The Embrace That Smothers - Part V)
07. Run For A Fall
08. Seif Al Din (The Embrace That Smothers - Part VI)
09. The Phantom Agony
10. Veniality [bonus]
11. Triumph of Defeat [Japanese bonus]
I guess that no one hasn't heard that Mark Jansen had to leave After Forever in April 2002; it was quite big news in the Metal world. And then did his little side project, Sahara Dust become his fulltime band, Good or bad? Well, I guess good, now we have two bands in the same genre, even if I like Epica a bit more than After Forever.
I read something about Epica and decided to brought their album, and believe me, I was highly surprised of what I heard, Gothic Metal, with classic singing mixed with growls, and the songs sounded damn good too.
On vocals, the young and beautiful Simone Simons does a great job, with her classic singing style, make Epica reach another level, and with no other than Tarja Turunen as her idol. And Mark does a great job to, as songwriter, singer and guitarist, his growls fits perfect with Simone's clear and powerful voice. The albums it self is a very serious story, based on stuff like 9/11 and so.
As I said, the band was in the beginning named Sahara Dust and was a side project that Mark was working on, in the same time, as he was a member in After Forever. The only Sahara Dust release to see daylight was a two-track demo called "Cry for the Moon" after that; they changed to Epica (Taken from the Kamelot album with the same name, Kamelot is one of their favorite bands). "The Phantom Agony" was recorded in Wolfsburg with Sascha Paeth, the same guy that recorded with Kamelot and Rhapsody. (And he was a member of the old Power Metal act, Heaven's Gate). So the production is out of complains, but what could you expect from Mr. Paeth?
The Phantom Agony gives us 9 songs, 2 of them was included on the Sahara Dust demo that I was talking about. ("Cry for the Moon" & "Illusive Consensus"). And 7 new written songs. And to give the album an extra push, they added 8 strings too (3 violins, 2 violas and 2 cellos) which gives the album even more Gothic feelings and some extra power. And together with Simone, they fit perfect into the album. The lyrics are filled with feelings, precisely as the music, and it very easy to take Epica to your heart and really love them.
So all of you, that want Gothic with Tarja alike vocals and some growls, check up Epica, and all After Forever fans, that miss Mark, this is for you, even if you don't miss him, this is for you too, 'cause it's close to After Forever, even if Simone is a better singer than Floor (It's my opinion).
Killing Songs: "Cry for the Moon" will kill you, believe me. And the rest of the album too, it's hard to do such a solid album.
Source : metalstorm