Sunday, February 25, 2024

Epica – We Will Take You With Us

Epica are a Dutch symphonic rock band, though what they play goes a little beyond just this as their music flits in and out of prog metal and goth. But, unlike other similar bands such as Within Temptation and Nightwish, who’ve both enjoyed a considerable degree of mainstream success, Epica continue to produce albums which achieve critical success with a devoted fanbase, but without ever seriously approaching mass acceptance.

We Will Take You With Us was originally released in 2004 but is now being reissued as part of a re-release package which will see several more Epica albums being re-issued. It’s an album with several tracks recorded by the whole band, whereas a few acoustic tracks feature just the delightful vocals of Simone Simons, plus 2nd guitarist Ad Sluijter and keys provided by Coen Janssen.

Everything you associate with Epica can be heard on the opening track of the first section, ‘Façade Of Reality’, which is the full band plus a choir and strings. Beginning with a driving riff before the orchestra makes an entrance, there’s a spoken word piece about the ‘evil of mass terrorism’ before Simone Simons makes her entrance, with the deep-throated growls of guitarist Mark Jansen not too far behind, and it’s all played at a blinding pace. It’s totally bombastic, over the top, and you’ll struggle to make out any usage of keyboards. What they play can be extremely intense .. one minute it’s soothing whereas, a minute later, they sound like Slipknot backed with a choir!  Throughout the next few tracks ‘Sensorium’, ‘Illusive Consensus’ and the nine-minute ‘Phantom Agony’ show they’re capable of playing exciting prog metal, with fine hooks and powerful playing but which is often buried under layers of backing.

The second section sees just Simone Simons and a couple of backing singers, and there’s the piano/cello version of Feist, the piano/guitar of ‘Run For A Fall’ .. and ‘Memory’ from Cats, though why they’ve chosen to do this, I’ve no idea. Nonetheless, Simone’s voice sparkles on these tracks. She can hit the high notes easily and, if silk could sing it’d sound like her.

I’ve often wondered what Epica would sound like if the choir and orchestral backing were removed from their songs. Their arrangements sound complex but, stripped of all the pomp, what would be left? 

Laurence Todd
Laurence Todd
Took early retirement after many years as a teacher in order to write books as well as about music. A long-time music obsessive, has wide and eclectic tastes but particularly likes prog rock and rock in general. Enjoys going to gigs and discovering new acts.

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Epica are a Dutch symphonic rock band, though what they play goes a little beyond just this as their music flits in and out of prog metal and goth. But, unlike other similar bands such as Within Temptation and Nightwish, who’ve both enjoyed a...Epica - We Will Take You With Us