The Phantom Agony     
~reviewed by Eric Rasmussen

If you’ve been around the musical block, you’ve only got to take one look at Epica’s latest CD to guess the style of music they play: overdone powermetally stuff with fancy female vocals and a growly male ass. The music is full of choirs and epic string movements and power metal riffs, and the aforementioned vocals. Except for the middle eastern vibe on “Seif al Din,” you’re basically getting rehashed Nightwish and After Forever.

Except, where Nightwish has neat album titles, Epica chooses CD names like The Phantom Agony. Note to bands: try to pick titles that make some coherent sense. What’s a phantom agony? A phantom named agony?  An agonizing phantom? Or is it agony that you don’t feel, rendering it, in essence, non-agony? No one knows! Not even Epica, I’d wager.

I’d feel bad spending a whole paragraph complaining about their album title, but Epica’s music is so terribly generic that I’ve got nothing new to report. Most of the songs are well conceived for the style, and reasonably listenable. The only notable exception is the awful vocal melody on “Run for a fall,” a song which, in addition to having another stupid title, makes me cringe.

If you absolutely cannot get enough of this style, by all means listen to Epica. Mark Jansen is an experienced songwriter, and there’s really nothing noticeably “wrong” with the music by the standards of epic power metal with beauty & the beast vocals. For my part, however, I’m ready to move on. Enough is enough; I already own several copies of this CD by other bands, and done better, at that.

Track List:
01) Adyta
"The Neverending Embrace"
02) Sensorium
03) Cry for the Moon
"The Embrace that Smothers - Part IV"
04) Feint
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

Epica is:
Simone Simons - vocals
Mark Jansen - guitars, vocals
Ad Sluijter - guitars
Coen Janssen - synths, piano
Yves Huts - bass
Jeroen Simons - drums

Epica - Official Site:

The End Records: