Oh, Epica. Long have you been the bottom of the pile band that I resort to when I’m completely bored. After debut The Phantom Agony I decided I couldn’t be bothered with Mark Jansen and his desperation to still be in After Forever and hung up my Epica socks…until now.

Somewhere along the line, Epica became rather brilliant. I’m not quite sure when, but as album opener Monopoly Of Truth hammers out, it’s clear that Simone Simons et al have drastically upped their game in the last few years. From the incoherent warblings that I remember come powerfully serene vocals and even Mark Jansen earns back points on his much improved growl vocals. Epica have found the sound with Requiem that I thought they’d never find; the almost commercial polish that Delain sport has rubbed off on them slightly and the amount it strengthens the band is almost insane.

The Eastern influences of members’ past careers still exists, the title track belting some swirling palm muted riff feels like a snake charmer daring the band to come out of the basket and lose themselves in the music.

The main issue I have with Requiem is one that I’ve had with their previous works; it’s a lot to take in one sitting, pushing the absolute limit for what you can fit onto a CD. Despite no real prominent musical hooks, each track lures you in, daring you to continue to listen. The chorus of Deep Water Horizon completely surprising me, these sparse hook moments small yet essential islands dotting in a sea of roaring string symphonies and sweeping choirs.

Epica have really surprised me with Requiem For The Indifferent, and to my shame, I was pretty determined to hate it. What the band have put together is the experience of a decade or more’s blood and sweat and tears. With the growls, odd guitar solos, progressive twists and the beautifully voiced Simone Simons (phwoar, cor blimey guv’nor etc.), Epica have produced an early contender for album of the year.

8/10

NB: Marks lost for a fucking idiotic album title.

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