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Epica - Requiem for the Indifferent
CD Reviews
Written by Justin Boyer   
Monday, 19 March 2012
Epica - CD Review
Requiem for the Indifferent
Epica - Requiem for the Indifferent

 

CD Info

2012

Nuclear Blast Records

14 Tracks USA Pressing

English Lyrics

 

Upon the release of Epica’s Requiem for the Indifferent, I’ve seen a wide array of opinions that ranged from negative to positive. On Epica’s own Facebook page, the wide spectrum of opinions for this particular album was evident by many people who either felt that this newest Epica album superseded their previous releases, or by people who felt that the new Epica album was disgraceful. When I first listened to the album myself, I felt extremely ambivalent about it because the album initially felt like it was missing a vital element that aided in creating the rich tapestry of sound that differentiated Epica’s albums from other symphonic metal releases; their cerebral lyrics, cinematic sound, and Simon Simone’s beautiful singing voice has always placed them in the ranks of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and After Forever in my mind.

Unlike some of their previous albums that had instant appeal. Requiem for the Indifferent requires patience. Fortunately, this patience is not labored patience, since every listen produced higher appreciation for the artistic maturity of this specific album. Many fans have already seen their hopes become dashed by their first listen because the album feels very experimental. Certainly, Epica wisely chose to reshape their sound to some extent because subsequent albums of every band, if they are to continue to carry a fresh sound, require maturation to some degree. Formerly, I felt like Requiem for the Indifferent, was an insipid release and a great downward plummet from their high point: Design Your Own Universe, that masterfully portrayed the philosophical concept of relativism in musical language.

In the core of Requiem for the Indifferent, there lies vast meaning underneath a pulsing wave of seemingly detached musical rhythms. Part of the genius of this album lies with how effectively it implores people to carefully consider the disillusioning reality of our world fraught with genocides, environmental disasters, questionable media messages. Oftentimes, metal music is poorly represented as a genre that forces listeners to forego their intellectual senses, whereas Epica’s music and many other examples of fine metal music require the full use of our minds to understand the emotional or philosophical depth contained within the music and lyrics.

Within these tracks specifically, Epica has adeptly created metal music that deserves far more serious attention:

* Storm the Sorrow: Everything within this song deals with the human psyche and the simultaneous war within us that reflects the chaos that we grimly discern in our everyday lives. At the beginning of the song, the haunting voices of the choir, along with a crushing drum beat, paints the conflict occurring between other humans in the external world. In the internal world, our interior self, reflected by Simone Simon’s anxious voice, is grappling with its own existential warfare with either its own mortality or the unassailable sorrow brought about by the tragedies experienced in this life. The song is essentially an earnest attempt to find solace within ourselves, or some semblance of confidence that allows us to deal directly with the disenchanting chaos in this world. Normally, I don’t particularly like Mark Jansen’s growling, but the growling within this song perfectly captures the internal struggle with our cynical attitude towards life, and the confidence that is much needed for our emotional preservation.

*Deep Water Horizon: This song enchanting and it begins with the soothing sound of an acoustic guitar that conjures the woeful scene of an ecological disaster that has occurred within the ocean. Once Simone Simons’s voice quietly enters the music, you feel yourself lulled into a contemplative mindset as you think of the pollution that is rapidly contaminating the environmental features of the world. Simone Simon’s voice seems to drift through the song and it carries deep sadness about the lamentable state of our world. Fascinatingly, Simone Simon’s ailing voice, along with the rich support of sound, helps carry our disillusionment through the wrecked state of our world, and prudently reminds us that we urgently need to use all the powers at our expense to reverse the apocalypse that we’re consigning ourselves to. This song lies at the heart of an album that carries an aura of great indifference, which this song clearly displays as something that will prove powerless in our attempts to salvage our planet and even our own humanity.

Nearly every song within this appears to actively reverse our apathetic mood that renders us powerless in the face of alarming displays of violence that overfill our senses. Oftentimes, music represents a form of escapism. Some bad forms of music leave us with nothing edifying. Requiem for the Indifferent, instead urges us to meditate on the state of the world, and it forces us into a refocused mindset that feels increasingly prepared to actively pursue ways to reverse this course towards our own demise. In "Stay the Course," Mark’s growling grows in intensity, as if to resemble our stiff resilience that will be needed if we wish to lead a purposeful life that is mindful of ways to keep our lives sinking away into the morass of sorrow that overwhelms us in "Storm the Sorrow."

Sometimes, Mark’s growling appears as an unwanted distraction from those mesmerizing moments when Simone Simons sings in many of Epica’s albums. This has progressively become a grievance of mine that has survived nearly all of Epica’s albums that contain his growling. Strangely, his growls actually are quite effective in songs like "Chasing the Dragon," or "Cry to the Moon." Other times, his growling is grossly misused just to fill a requirement. Also, the choirs also feel overused at some intervals in their other album which curiously suffer from the same problem. Within this album, I actually felt that these problems were slightly rectified, compared to earlier albums, as the music itself does not become too overwrought, which is another flaw with Epica’s music that sometimes occurs. Requiem for the Indifferent reflects a positive transition for the band that is slowly moving away from generic trappings. Many of Epica’s signature elements feel driven with increased purpose. There are a few moments where Mark’s growling becomes tiring, or the epic choirs become redundant, but these problems have decreased with this album, making for a far more mature sound. Occasionally, there are moments when I would have loved for Mark’s growling to be taken away entirely, except I’ve weirdly grown accustomed to hearing his growling within their music. With this album, it does not become too bothersome, and actually enhances the tension that is essential to the conflicted mood of this album. One of the best tracks on the album, Internal Warfare, provides us with this intensified tension which showcases an awesome guitar solo, along with an electrifying keyboard solo as well.

Bear in mind, this album requires time because it is one of those albums that slowly grows on you, and leaves you with an increasing desire to replay favorite tracks countless times. Part of the maturity with this album lies with its lack of a commercialized sound, and surplus of complex songs that defy the stereotypes of metal music. Moreover, Simone Simon impressively shows off her wider vocal range, putting the naysayers that believe her range is limited to shame. Of all Epica’s albums, Simone Simon’s voice reaches its peak in this album in terms of sophistication. Perhaps, my feelings for this album will continue to change, as the deeper meaning unravels itself over time. Sometimes, certain elements become distractingly overused, but for the most part, the album is truly a gem that demonstrates that Epica knows how to produce an album that dumbfounds its listeners

9.0 / 10

Standout Tracks: Delirium, Storm the Sorrow, Deep Water Horizon, Serenade of Self-Destruction, Internal Warfare

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