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Epica - The Classical Conspiracy
CD Reviews
Written by Avi Cohen   
Friday, 31 July 2009
Epica - CD Review
The Classical Conspiracy
Epica - The Classical Conspiracy

CD Info

2009

Nuclear Blast Records

28  Tracks

English Lyrics

 

 

Months ago, I remember reading that finally, Epica were to finally release a live album. Having seen them live towards the end of 2007, I greeted this news with much joy, as I remember them having put on a fantastic show. When I read further and discovered that it was a show that had been recorded with a backing orchestra, I did a double take. Considering Epica’s main thrust of music is the melding of symphonic masterpieces with metal, this could be considered like having one’s cake and eating it, then still finding room for even more cake.

So here we have it, the Classical Conspiracy. The album is basically divided into two parts. The first part has Epica covering classical pieces, from the ‘In The Hall Of The Mountain King’ to themes from movie scores, such as the ‘Imperial March’ from Star Wars and the theme from Pirates Of The Caribbean. All these songs have been performed and recorded beautifully, and yet at times, Epica seems to want to cut loose and just increase the heaviness of these songs, yet just manage to restrain themselves, as if it would be giving away too much. They were probably saving themselves for their original material. But we’ll get there. Suffice it to say, that the first twelve tracks should be considered appetizers for the main course.

One gripe I have about this release, is that they couldn’t fit all their original material on to one disc, so they start the second half of the set towards the end of the first CD. While this is really a trivial issue, I feel that this should just be mentioned. But hey, it was clearly a really long show, so as long as I’m getting lots of Epica, I’m not going to complain. The original part of the show is introduced with the instrumental ‘Indigo’, the opening track from the ‘Divine Conspiracy’. You can hear the crowd starting to realize what’s about to happen, with chants of Epica being clearly audible, along with whistles, cheers and much clapping. You can even pinpoint the exact moment Simone walks on to the stage. And then ‘The Last Crusade’ starts its steady pounding, Ariën Van Weesenbeek letting loose with gusto.

I won’t do a song by song recount of the original part of the set, but Epica picked some definite heavyweight songs of theirs, which were nicely counterbalanced by a few of their softer numbers. ‘Chasing The Dragon’ here sounds like one of the most beautiful and haunting masterpieces ever, and I must confess that while I enjoyed the song before, after hearing the version on this album, it has managed to sneak its way into my favorites.

Throughout the show, Mark and Simone both take turns talking to,encouraging and working the crowd. You can hear the actual band itself is enjoying itself, as the album carries on, the intensity and passion doesn’t decrease, it actually seems to grow. When you couple this with the wonderful production, the result has two effects. Firstly, it amazes you. And then, unless you were one of the lucky few to attend this performance, it makes you sad that you couldn’t have been there.

Epica also play the title tracks from their first two albums in their entirety here, and both of them show that while its wonderful to have a band produce magic in the studio, these songs can still lay waste to the unbelievers while played live. Most of the material is from ‘The Divine Conspiracy’ , but you can still find ‘Blank Infinity’ and ‘Illusive Consensus’ here.

In closing, this album is nothing short of a masterpiece. The conspirators in Epica and Nuclear Blast have truly delivered one of the finest live albums to be released this year, and I’m sure it will be a benchmark for other live albums in years to come.

9 / 10

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