What is a name? A part of a speech, an individuation, a clarification; the name may be synonymous with fame and reputation. In Italian, the name “epica” refers to the term “epopea” (eng. epic), specifically as an object of historical or philological classification. “Epica” is a literary genre, which deals with the myths and legends of a people. But what is “EPICA”, when it comes to music?
“EPICA is a place in the universe where you can find answers to the questions of life”. – Simone Simons, EPICA lead singer
Unlike most metal bands, whose songs are mostly fictional subject of myths and legends, EPICA, since their debut album The Phantom Agony, remain anchored to real issues. In 15 years of their career, who have seen their rise on the world, the Dutch sextet has meant that, through its music, the daily became epic. Merging masterfully sound, poetry and an incredible pragmatic logic, EPICA have been able to deal the doubts and human issues, interpreting and studying scientific theories or current events, all blended in a harmony that is not only pleasant to hear, but is able to make the listener think and to bring hope in his or her soul. “The albums show” said the guitarist and vocalist Mark Jansen “the evolution of mine and our quest for discovering what’s an illusion and what’s real. I get the impression that with every album we get closer to the ultimate goal, which is solving the big questions of life: why are we here, what’s the purpose and what happens after we die? Of course it’s not being said that we are right. But it’s a very interesting quest. Many of our fans love these topics as well and quite often it happens as well that a discussion with a fan leads to new insights. We are standing on the shoulders of giants. Most of the work has been done already by other great minds, we just try to add an extra little layer here and there and bring some wisdom to a wider audience. After that it’s up to the listener to identify with those lyrics or ignore them and just enjoy the music. Either way is fine for us.”
It is difficult, however, to completely ignore the lyrics, especially when they challenge us to think outside the box. This is what happens in The Holographic Principle, the seventh EPICA studio album, which compares the world with the virtual world, and wonders about the fact that reality, as we know it, is nothing but a hologram of itself, enclosed in a cosmic mathematical loop of which all are part. “Everything in life and the universe is a circle or a spiral.” Mark Jansen explains “Everybody can try to crack his or her own cosmic code. It would be already a good start if we look into ourselves and see what we can do to to fit our own needs in a better way. Once we are in harmony with ourselves we can really make this world a better place, I’m convinced about that.”
Through the various albums, as well as reaching an apex in the above research, EPICA have known how to show us the evolution of their sound, always masterfully adapted to the issues related to their work. Beginning with The Phantom Agony, which the gloomy, majestic and apocalyptic sounds, performed in irregular rythm, are well suited to express the horrors caused by religious fundamentalism, terrorism and paedophilia, as well as enhancing the contrast between the orchestral grandeur and pure heavy metal, EPICA were able to touch and merge together many sub-genres of metal, in a progressive evolution; passing through the cool and distant tones of the political Requiem For The Indifferent, they return to the initial magnificence with The Quantum Enigma, and further implement it in the following The Holographic Principle, reaching heights seemingly insuperable. “We have recorded the whole album with real instruments instead of using samples. The orchestral parts therefor sound better than ever before.” says Mark Jansen. Than, may be The Holographic Principle contains itself the ultimate EPICA sound? Mark Jansen reply: “I don’t know what our ultimate Epica sound will be, time will tell but for sure we will keep trying to improve ourselves. It might be possible to raise the bar once more with our next album, at least we will try.”