When I heard that Epica was going to be releasing a new album, the ultimate excitement I felt at that moment is indescribable. Epica is another one of those bands where each album is better than the one before, just like Soilwork, After Forever, DevilDriver, All Shall Perish, Katatonia, and Eternal Tears of Sorrow. Although not the most commercially successful, Epica has proved themselves to me (and millions of other people) that they are truly one of the (if not THE) most talented and creative symphonic metal bands of all-time. But even though that’s just a matter of opinion, anyone who is into the female-fronted symphonic metal scene can easily say that Epica holds an incredible amount of talented musicianship. In the symphonic metal area, the most BITCHED ABOUT topic is definitely who is the best singer. Some of the singers that would definitely be nominees in my book would be Tarja Turunen, Floor Jansen, and Anette Olzon. But honestly, none of them even come close to matching the paralyzing voice of Simone Simons (I’m just saying that to put my opinion out there, I’m not a music elitist). I have always loved Design your Universe, and on December 2nd of 2010, I was convinced that Epica couldn’t POSSIBLY get ANY better when I saw them perform live with Scar Symmetry, Blackguard, and The Agonist.
Requiem for the Indifferent butchered that thought. I’m not exaggerating at all; Epica actually got better. But the sound of Requiem for the Indifferent is far from being similar to the sound of Design your Universe. This new album made me realize that Design your Universe is actually one of their softer albums. The reason why is because Requiem for the Indifferent takes a huge step in the death metal direction; that’s right folks, DEATH METAL! But, like every other Epica album, Requiem for the Indifferent has its fair share of ballads that cause people (including me) to shed tears with its sheer beauty and immensely powerful emotion. The song that originally got me officially HOOKED on Epica was Tides of Time (still one of my ALL-TIME favorite songs). Epica failed to disappoint me with their slightly gospel-influenced ballad, Delirium. I’m pretty sure a lot of you are asking, WHERES THE HEAVY SHIT??
The answer to that question lies in the first two tracks. These tracks are very similar to the first two tracks on The Divine Conspiracy. By that, I mean that it has the soft intro track filled with complex choir chords that suck you in like a black hole into a FAST and FUCKING HEAVY track. The only difference is that the heavy track on Requiem for the Indifferent is FAR, FAR heavier than the one off The Design Conspiracy. After the second song, you’re met with the ballad I was talking about earlier. After that, Internal Warfare relentlessly pounds you into the dirt; listening to the song should be enough to prove that statement. I guess the majority of the album’s material is made up of these merciless and heavy songs that Epica has been known to only use sparingly…until now.
Honestly, the musicians haven’t gotten any better. The reason why is because they pretty much reached capacity almost four years ago!! But that never means that it’s impossible to even further push the limits. The guitarist that also does the growls (Epica refers to them as “grunts”) and some mediocre screams improved his vocals a lot since the previous album. His growls don’t sound as weak and…I don’t know…there’s something about his growls in the previous albums…something about them that’s missing or lacking something…I’ve just never been able to put my finger on it. But whatever his vocals were lacking before was fixed; he could easily be a good fit for the next big melodic death band. And on top of that, his screams are A LOT better than before. Also, of course, Simone’s singing voice continues to go uphill while showing no signs of slowing down EVER.
This is definitely Epica’s best album without a doubt. But remember, this is the heaviest record they’ve ever put out, so it’s hard to ultimately compare it to their other material due to the near-dramatic change in overall musical style they’ve taken. When I listen to this record, I shake my head in disbelief that they actually created a record better than Design your Universe. This is an INSTANT classic and shouldn’t be missed by anyone, symphonic metal fan or not. I would give this a perfect score on any scale. 5/5, 10/10, 20/20, 100/100, 100%, A+, whatever scale you would prefer to use (I usually go out of 20), I guarantee you that I will give it full credit. I’m so glad that I pre-ordered this CD (which came with a shirt).