Epica - The Solace System 01Though the human centipede that is Nuclear Blast would have you believe The Solace System is “long-awaited,” I’m unsure who exactly is clamoring for more Epica so soon after The Holographic Principle. That untamed sprawl made such little impact on this physician that, despite play counts to the contrary, I assert I’ve never listened to it until now. 2017 finds Epica as they have ever been (and essentially as they were in 2016 because it’s been eleven fucking months): well-oiled and fun, but still prone to excess and struggling to engender their music with a sense of purpose. A thirty-minute time limit should rein in the former, can a lithe bodice and some deft editing take care of the rest?

Diabolus noted that Epica operates best at full blast, and “The Solace System” and “Fight Your Demons” gladly oblige, well-seated within Epica’s pantheon of expectations. “Demons” drives Solace toward its heaviness quotient, but it finds a power metal catchiness through synth accents and a bombastic chorus that sounds like a stone-faced Gloryhammer with a backing orchestra. The overarching pop structure sees hooks receive forced repetition, which means, as always with Epica, [Insert Song Here] “Fight Your Demons” would have been stronger were it two minutes shorter. You can lead a band to the EP, but you can’t make them edit.

Epica - The Solace System 02Solace’s entries lack none of the full-bodied thrust of their Principled counterparts, but their B-side nature shows. With only half an hour to fill, the absence of the deviant flair of a “Dancing in a Hurricane” or the glorious warmth of “Universal Death Squad” does not weigh too heavily. At its best, Solace might not break new ground but its material compares favorably to Epica’s recent output, bolstered by the tightness of the EP. To no one’s surprise, the work of Simone Simons continues to make Epica what they are. Her lyrics will always be wonky — “The gravy train keeps rolling, we will not rock the boat” — but she elevates acoustic throwback “Immortal Melancholy” and I doubt I would like “Wheel of Destiny” half as much without her considerable talents. However, the loud production (still) criminally infringes on her presence, overtaking her during pacier excursions.

“Architect of Light” and “Wheel of Destiny” stand out as the most fully-formed tracks of the six, though the traditional metal components own almost none of the worthwhile moments. When revealing the heavier side of Epica’s kaleidoscopic abilities, Isaac Delahaye’s solos survive as the most (sole?) impactful element. Their set of sub-standard backing growls never does much for me and regular but brief moments of odd pseudo-death metal weighs on the song’s quality. Overall, it’s hard to view The Solace System as anything but an extension of The Holographic Principle. Epica themselves put out two videos to that effect, effectively begrudging having to cut material from Principle and saying “Fuck it, we’ll release it next year.” Though I am not entirely sold on that conceit, the shortened format really improves the band’s palatability. Even if you aren’t among the rare breed of persons I referenced at the open, Solace will do ya just fine.


Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 275 kbps mp3
Label: Nuclear Blast
Websites: epica.nl | facebook.com/epica
Releases Worldwide: September 1st, 2017

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  • Scooters are not metal.

    • yeah but besides that this is so very metal

    • Kurt Kapferer

      The scooters dont even match. How are we supposed to even know these people play in the same band?

      • tomasjacobi

        An epic scooter fail if I ever saw one!

        • Matt slatz

          Raise your hands if you think scooters are metal!!!

    • HeavyMetalHamster
    • METAL OTTER

      But this scooter was chosen to wield the Wheel of Destiny

    • Monsterth Goatom

      How about Thor puttering around the stage on one? But, no, that brings back memories of prancing around Stonehenge.

    • RuySan

      With them being Dutch, I suppose scooters are an edgy version of the very mundane bicycle.

      Although I would very much prefer bicycles in the picture.

    • HeavyMetalHamster

      Perhaps they are Scooters of Death.

  • Wes Allen

    Three scooters and six people. Two to a scooter?

    • MetalMartin

      I count 6 scooters… But anyhow, this doesn’t make the picture any better!

  • Thatguy

    The band photo is just silly, but so is the music

    • Name’s Dalton

      Agree.

      AMG: Will there be an Inanamite Existence review? Not that I need validation for thinking their new album is awesome. I just want others to know about it.

      • We reviewed it last week.

        • Name’s Dalton

          Thanks for reminding me.

  • Septic
  • Nate Sweet

    Thanks for the review! I was wondering, for the embedded track, do you guys choose which song to put yourselves or do you ask the band/label which track they would like to showcase or something?

    • Kronos

      We use what is available at the time of writing, which is usually the single/ singles which has/have already been published by the record company. Sometimes there are multiple options; in this case I like to include whichever song does the album the most justice. So the answer is both.

  • Danny

    They could be amazing if they edited their shit. As it is they seem to settle for mediocre to pretty good

  • HeavyMetalHamster
    • HeavyMetalHamster

      Simone and me posing and discussing Dutch Privilege.

      • Eli Valcik

        As someome who is very much into redheads. Could you help a brother out?

        • RuySan

          Since the poster is a ginger himself…. I’m confused by your request

          • HeavyMetalHamster

            I ain’t ginger.

          • RuySan

            Your reply, like most things in life, reminded me of a certain Seinfeld episode.

            And btw, I’m almost 100% sure that Simone is naturally a blonde

          • HeavyMetalHamster

            Life always comes back to Seinfeld.

        • HeavyMetalHamster

          Send in your resume.
          I’ll put in a good word for you.

    • GrandmasterB

      I can’t believe my eyes! Someone wore a Manics shirt to an Epica concert ?! I’m a big fan of the former but indifferent towards the latter.

      • HeavyMetalHamster

        My niece bought us tickets to Epica as it’s her favorite band. I did enjoy it too though.
        Manics I’ve seen live 5 time sand yes….they are untouchable.

  • Master of Muppets

    No.

    • herrschobel

      yeah

      • Master of Muppets

        Are you yeah-ing my no, or no-ing it with a yeah?

        • herrschobel

          lol…all the way yeah-ing your no…i mean c´mon..–what is this abomination ?

  • Man…I remember the first time choirs, female lead vocals and metal really blew me away. Widow’s Weeds, 1998. And for a while there, I loved the genre. But there’s been so damn much of it in the last 15 years that it’s hard for something to stand out.

    Just remember…you NEVER go full Nightwish.

    • RuySan

      Yes…widow weeds were for a long time my sole reference in the genre. Until the latest Draconian album. That blew me away

      • Ohhh, I’m happy for you but I didn’t dig that one. I do like Turning Season Within and Rose for the Apocalypse, but that last one seemed a bit dull on first listen. Maybe I should give it another go…

    • Nukenado

      Full Nightwish is only great of you’re Nightwish.

  • The Unicorn
  • PotaD0s

    Can we stop to talk about how awful that music video is, in every fucking way?

    As for the music, it’s Epica. It will always be Epica. They’re basically the equivalent of a bib at a bar-be-que.

    • Dr. Wvrm

      That. I like that.

  • walk_among_us

    Dude, if you say the title of this EP fast and loose, you will sound like a New York astronomer.

  • Grumpyrocker

    Sad amount of gatekeeping here in the comments.