Rating:
8.5
Epica - Design Your Universe
16 October 2009


01. Samadhi (Prelude)
02. Resign To Surrender (A New Age Dawns - Part IV)
03. Unleashed
04. Martyr Of The Free Word
05. Our Destiny
06. Kingdom Of Heaven (A New Age Dawns - Part V)
07. The Price Of Freedom (Interlude)
08. Burn To A Cinder
09. Tides Of Time
10. Deconstruct
11. Semblance Of Liberty
12. White Waters [feat. Tony Kakko]
13. Design Your Universe (A New Age Dawns - Part VI)
14. This Is The Time [bonus]
15. Incentive [bonus]


Dutch symphonic metallers Epica make their return in spectacular form with Design Your Universe, studio album number four. The band have grown over the years and Design Your Universe is the product of a confident and mature band. The album sees Epica at their most bombastic yet and also their most experimental.

Maybe not the most accessible album initially, weighing in at a hefty length but Design Your Universe is packed with quality content. As you would expect, Epica have once again produced an album with all their hallmarks. The music is inevitably built around Simone's ever growing sweet but powerful, theatrical, operatic style of singing backed up with more orchestral choirs and symphonies than ever before. The album is also the grittiest Epica have created. No longer is Epica a limp symphonic band for girls, but the harsh vocals also make their mark on Design Your Universe, especially with songs like the brilliant "Martyr Of The Free World" that in the chorus sounds exactly like what you'd imagine Amon Amarth to sound like if they played along a symphony orchestra. Not committing themselves to song templates or letting genre definitions define their music, Epica even show a glimpse of progressive flair with a nod towards Dream Theater during their fourteen-minute epic "Kingdom Of Heaven".

Still, the band take a lot of influence from other bands and incorporate them into Design Your Universe. Epica still don't have their own particular style or brand of music outside of the fascination with Simone. It might be nice to see the band really put their own stamp on a piece of metal, something to call their own style. Design Your Universe is a brilliant album of fantastic quality, but stylistically is just another symphonic metal album crying out for something innovative, something unique to just Epica.

Design Your Universe is largely a very varied album presenting both up-tempo, hard hitting numbers, but also soft, beautiful, charming ones such as "Tides Of Time", which must be one of the band's most magical pieces to date. The album has a lot of varied content with many parts sure to appeal to many people. The quality on the album makes an extremely long album feel as if it is a fraction of the length it actually is.

Although this is a pretty diverse piece of work, Design Your Universe has nothing groundbreaking to offer. However, what Epica offer with this album, is a symphonic metal album of the highest quality you'll hear all year. Design Your Universe is an extremely enjoyable glade of enchanting symphonic orchestration and operatic-lead heavy metal. This is Epica at their best yet, don't miss your chance with this one.

--

Symphonic metal
Nuclear Blast
The Netherlands
Length: 1:14:46

Performance: 9
Songwriting: 9
Originality: 8
Production: 10


Band profile: Epica
Album: Design Your Universe


 



Written on 16.10.2009 by
Baz Anderson
Member of Staff since 2006.
More reviews by Baz Anderson ››



Comments

‹‹ Back to the Reviews
Comments: 49  
Users visited: 591  
Search this topic:  


annodomini - 16.10.2009 at 15:00  
I was waiting for this review very much. And i am a little idssapointed Well this review is well written, but doesn't explore all the feeling of this album And this album definetely diserves 9. The band is going heavier and heavier, better and better, what is a unique thinh these times. Amazing album.
BlankFile - 16.10.2009 at 15:18  
I really love this band, in fact im going to their concert in Portugal in the first day of November.
About this album ive only listened to one song (Unleashed) and i really enjoy it. I have to listen to the rest of the album to form an opinion about it.
Ereinion - 16.10.2009 at 15:42  
A truly amazing pice of work ....as you said the band has grown so much as songwriters and musican it is also nice to hear that their songwriting didn't become so predtictable as some other big symphonic metal bands....but without a doubt we can say this is their best album so far
The Night Wisher - 16.10.2009 at 15:48  
Well, It's not bad but it has nothing to do with Epica style, The Divine Conspiracy is way way better.....in Design Your Universe I shall say that Epica have lost their style....
Andresopeth - 16.10.2009 at 15:50  
Haven't listened yet, hope to get it this weekend, though i heard to Unleashed and i like it, have to pay atention carefuly on this album, have long time awaiting for it. Good review, i have very good expectatives!
Valaskjalf - 16.10.2009 at 16:02  
Meh...dont get me started. Apparently everything on this site deserves a 8.5/10 or more - surely there must be a line, everything cant be very good (i.e 8 or above according to the site) and this surely isnt that good
annodomini - 16.10.2009 at 16:40  
Written by Valaskjalf on 16.10.2009 at 16:02

Meh...dont get me started. Apparently everything on this site deserves a 8.5/10 or more - surely there must be a line, everything cant be very good (i.e 8 or above according to the site) and this surely isnt that good


You are right.It kis better.
BlankFile - 16.10.2009 at 17:07  
Well for the first earing im going to say that this album is constant, heavy and has some great moments, but the Divine Conspiracy is perhaps better in my opinion. This album has a slightly different style from previous releases, maybe is less catchy in some parts and more complex in others, comparing to the Divine Conspiracy. Still im going to listen to the album lots of times to get used to it and to compreend it to the fullest of its capacity. I may be wrong about this analysis, so dont be admired if i change my opinion in about one day or two...
Highlights of the album so far: Resign to Surrender, Unleashed (Killer Chorus!), Martyr of the Free World (Fast, Heavy, Brutal!), Kingdom of Heaven (An epic song with great riffs!) Burn to a Cinder (has a very catchy chorus), Tides of Time (Beautifull Balad) and i have to mention also the track White Waters that features Tony Kakko from Sonata Arctica, a song with great vocals. So far thats it, but i have a feeling that this album will grow stronger on me in a few days.
Stay Metal |m|
annodomini - 16.10.2009 at 17:11  
Written by BlankFile on 16.10.2009 at 17:07

Well for the first earing im going to say that this album is constant, heavy and has some great moments, but the Divine Conspiracy is perhaps better in my opinion. This album has a slightly different style from previous releases, maybe is less catchy in some parts and more complex in others, comparing to the Divine Conspiracy. Still im going to listen to the album lots of times to get used to it and to compreend it to the fullest of its capacity. I may be wrong about this analysis, so dont be admired if i change my opinion in about one day or two...
Highlights of the album so far: Resign to Surrender, Unleashed (Killer Chorus!), Martyr of the Free World (Fast, Heavy, Brutal!), Kingdom of Heaven (An epic song with great riffs!) Burn to a Cinder (has a very catchy chorus), Tides of Time (Beautifull Balad) and i have to mention also the track White Waters that features Tony Kakko from Sonata Arctica, a song with great vocals. So far thats it, but i have a feeling that this album will grow stronger on me in a few days.
Stay Metal |m|



That was exactly my thoughts after hearing this for the first time, but after plenty of more spins it became super catchy and the best Epica album to date
Kamil - 16.10.2009 at 18:29  
New stuff is much better than previous, but...

Quote:
Design Your Universe has nothing groundbreaking to offer

I fully agree with this

Unfortunately they won't make so awesome album like Consing To Oblivion.
Keiheji - 16.10.2009 at 20:19  
Written by Valaskjalf on 16.10.2009 at 16:02

Meh...dont get me started. Apparently everything on this site deserves a 8.5/10 or more - surely there must be a line, everything cant be very good (i.e 8 or above according to the site) and this surely isnt that good


alot of reviews like that are from guest reviewers from what i noticed. This album on the other hand, really does deserves every bit of that 8.5 if not more. I just cant stop listening to it. Whoever they got for their new guitarist they need to keep.
Diablos - 16.10.2009 at 21:14  
I'm very satisfied with this album. they keep up their high quality.
Dani5050 - 16.10.2009 at 21:24  
I like the album so far, they sure got heavier, unlike other bands, but I totally hate, really hate, the interlude, with obama , martin luther king and malcom x on it. Don't know why a dutch band have to do with these people. just my 2 cents.
Umideath - 16.10.2009 at 21:28  
Better than before
annodomini - 16.10.2009 at 21:47  
Written by Kamil on 16.10.2009 at 18:29

New stuff is much better than previous, but...

Quote:
Design Your Universe has nothing groundbreaking to offer

I fully agree with this

Unfortunately they won't make so awesome album like Consing To Oblivion.


It seems that you are a fan of some kind a soft metal,because CTO was softest album of their and with the most simple compositions...

This album is like a drug to me,i cant stoplisten, i am thinking just about those songs. Ialways knew that Epica is a great band,but alll previous albums had only few good songs, and missed something, and I still called myself After Forever fan, but now iam glad that at last Epica found a way to my heart, cause i always wonted this to happen, but something was in a way between us This is my last point(i hope) and i will not discuss with those negative people, because Epica created a masterpiece, that probably explores everythin that i like in metal, they composed a Composiions that i was waiting since the beggining of my interest in music. Neither Nightwish,WT or even After Forever suceeded is such way. These willbe my life album, at least infemale fronted metal. Thank you Epica.
juanopereira - 16.10.2009 at 21:54  
This is the first time Epica includes more guitar solos in their songs and you gave them an 8 in originality??? I desagree. This album deserves a 9 or even a 10. I think is their best work.
Ivor - 16.10.2009 at 22:25  
Just listened to the album and to me it sounded really good, even fresh. A couple of last Epica albums sort of passed me by. Don't know if this one will stick but it has the potential. There's something in that album that makes me feel good about it. It's got the drive that is similar to After Forever's Decipher, a long-lost feeling rediscovered on this album.

I.
MetalSpider - 17.10.2009 at 01:14  
The first 2-3 times that I listened to it, I was left with the feeling that something was missing.

Listening to it a few more times, however, Im actually starting to like it even more.
Black Conundrum - 17.10.2009 at 01:30  
I haven't listened to this album yet, but I want to. Also, that was a well-written review.
Metal Maiden - 17.10.2009 at 06:53  
Love the band, loved the album...The review is very good and well-written, I agree on pretty much everything, especially on the part about the slight prog influences, I noticed them too... Also, I must add that maybe the single trait I disliked in their music - Marc Jansen's growls, are so much better and improved in this release, that I found myself at a loss of words...

And yes, I have to agree too that the album deserves higher scores, at least in Originality...I'd give a 9.5 in general, or a 9 actually, given that minus the growls, I still find The Divine Conspiracy 100% perfect...

Oh, and I just have to say how surprised I was, against my expectations, at how White Waters sounds nothing like power metal...
Sy-Furr - 17.10.2009 at 08:36  
I really like the album over all. I like the more heavier direction that it seem they have take. But of course they have not forgoten their sweet magical symphonic side. Simone is as beautiful as ever. And Mark's vocals are wounderfully diverse. A+

And +1 for Tony Kakko guest vocals!

Can't wait for the tour!
Kamil - 17.10.2009 at 13:44  
Written by juanopereira on 16.10.2009 at 21:54

This is the first time Epica includes more guitar solos in their songs and you gave them an 8 in originality??? I desagree. This album deserves a 9 or even a 10. I think is their best work.

I disagree with this.
After few listenings it isn't higher, than 7,5 - 8.
If you will ask me, for me new stuff is very irregular. First part of this album, including really awesome Kingdom of Heaven, could be easily one of the best albums in 2009.
Unfortunately second part of this album has too many rather average or even boring songs.
ioannisk - 17.10.2009 at 17:37  
Really liked it (and i'm not into that type of music)...but i must say that the song with the guy from sonata arctica shouldn't be in there..
Ernis - 17.10.2009 at 18:26  
I don't know...it's a good review Barry...really sets my expectations high but now that I heard it...mayb because I'm so busy to notice all the album has to offer...it passes me by somehow...I think I need to concentrate on the music more....
BlankFile - 17.10.2009 at 23:09  
After listening carefully a few times this album i can say now that altough this one is a great album, the Divine Conspiracy appeals more to me than this one. I really like this album, dont get me wrong i just think that it isnt better than the Divine Conspiracy whom i think is more constant. Anyway this album has some amazing songs such as Resign to Surrender, Unleashed (My favourite, spectacular song!), Martyr of the Free World (Fast and Brutal), Kingdom of Heaven (Epic), Burn to a Cinder (catchy as hell), Tides of Time (Best ballad of Epica? maybe...), and the title track Design Your Universe. Oh the bonus track Incentive is awsome as Well. But as for the rest of the album i think that it passes me by a little bit, because I think they are just fillers and nothing more than that. They´re not bad songs, but sure they are not amazing songs either. An example: the song White Waters altough it features Tony Kakko from Sonata Arctica, a great vocalist, the song just doesn´t satisfy me enough for me to consider it a good song. Its a somewhat strange track i guess... Well I think that the fair rating for this one is a solid 8 or 8.5 like the rating of the reviewer. Its a great album, but Epica has done better imo. Stay Metal dudes!
Angel_Lament - 17.10.2009 at 23:55  
Written by BlankFile on 16.10.2009 at 17:07

Well for the first earing im going to say that this album is constant, heavy and has some great moments, but the Divine Conspiracy is perhaps better in my opinion. This album has a slightly different style from previous releases, maybe is less catchy in some parts and more complex in others, comparing to the Divine Conspiracy. Still im going to listen to the album lots of times to get used to it and to compreend it to the fullest of its capacity. I may be wrong about this analysis, so dont be admired if i change my opinion in about one day or two...
Highlights of the album so far: Resign to Surrender, Unleashed (Killer Chorus!), Martyr of the Free World (Fast, Heavy, Brutal!), Kingdom of Heaven (An epic song with great riffs!) Burn to a Cinder (has a very catchy chorus), Tides of Time (Beautifull Balad) and i have to mention also the track White Waters that features Tony Kakko from Sonata Arctica, a song with great vocals. So far thats it, but i have a feeling that this album will grow stronger on me in a few days.
Stay Metal |m|


I thought just like you when I first heard this album, but then I realized this album cant be compared to The Divine Conspiracy.
Design Your Universe has different Style, Its more Progressive and riffs and more solos in it, as if the first 3 albums didn't contain a lot of these (if it contained any).
this album is a turn in Epica's discography, maybe if they did another divine conspiracy, it would be more succeful, but they wanted to do something different...
this album isnt easy to get into, but still is very mysterious and enjoyable album, thats what I discovered, You have to give it a few listens more, and Im sure you will like it as I did.
Especially "Unleashed" "Resign to Surrender" "Martyr Of the free word" "Kingdom Of heaven" (The most Epic one) "White Waters" and "Design Your Universe"...
annodomini - 18.10.2009 at 12:50  
So am i the only one who thinks that this album is the best in Epica to date and that "White waters" is amazing song?
BlankFile - 18.10.2009 at 19:14  
Written by annodomini on 18.10.2009 at 12:50

So am i the only one who thinks that this album is the best in Epica to date and that "White waters" is amazing song?


After a few more listenings with the max concentration I kinda like the song now! The same thing happened with the songs Semblance of Liberty and Deconstruct! I really think they´re great songs aswell. Man this album sure is making me crazy! Im changing opinions all the time! Design Your Universe is definitly another great work from Epica, altough different from previous releases, but still amazing! Im so happy that im going to see them live in the 1st November in Lisbon - Portugal!
Stay Metal dudes!
Daggon - 20.10.2009 at 07:08  
I have listened to this album many times by now, and in my humble opinion I can say that it is quite good, well, I didn't expect something bad coming from this band, I know all of them are great musicians. I'm glad they added some new elements and they keep on improving some old ones, but I think people in here have described my thoughts better than me.

Great album indeed, it's not perfect IMO, but "The Divine Conspiracy" it's still my favorite.
Andresopeth - 21.10.2009 at 22:56  
Well, after listened with attention to the album i must say that i like it a lot, The Phantom Agony still being my favorite, but this one is really good, Kingdome Of Heaven and Martyr Of The Free Word my favorites, the first one because how progressive is, changing rythms a lot, with quiet parts, the vocals, the grunts, the solo, is a very complete song, Martyr Of The Free Word has somthing with Simone Voice that catches me deeply. The only song which i think could be out of this album is White Waters, the rest is amazing, this guys did an excelent job, and a very good album to have in the collection!
The Shape 1973 - 24.10.2009 at 23:01  
By far their best album, all parts are better than before, especially the vocals, both male and female. The guitar solos are much improved also and the drums are mental.
My only problem that stops me giving it a better score (8) is that the album still doesn't flow, It's not an album that you will be humming thoughtout the day, nothing sticks in your head, it's still like a load of bits stuck together, no real song. Don't get me wrong, instrumentally this is their best work, but songwriting is still a long way short of the brilliant Whyzdom, Nightwish or After Forever after Mark left.
bloodwrage - 26.10.2009 at 00:35  
I hate this album.
farmakon - 29.10.2009 at 23:50  
This album is boring. If it was only 40 minutes long, it could be quite good. But almost 80 minutes
-Soulreaper- - 30.10.2009 at 15:59  
I really enjoy this album more and more with every listen. It's by far their best album.
Rasa - 08.11.2009 at 15:36  
Finally, this is the album I always longed from Epica. All previous efforts lacked something for me. They, most of the time, were too soft for me, but this one is a killer! It has all the elements I hoped from this band: heavyness, epicness (is that a word? ) and power. DYU has all three. Even Mark's growls improved. It's hard to name highlights, but without doubt, one of them is Kingdom of Heaven. Epic album. 10/10.
dismaleuphony - 12.11.2009 at 19:13  
Sorry for taking so long to offer my opinions on this one, but due to my trip to see them amongst so many other bands in Belgium, I missed out on the release for nearly two weeks. When hearing the new tracks there live for the first time, I found many of them difficult to digest on first listen. "The Divine Consipiracy" was so accessible to me the first time around, but this time around DYU is more difficult. I'm totally with you on that.

After listening to it a few dozen times now and reading through all the lyrics (of course ), I'm fully enchanted by it, even if I could do without the totally overdone Bush Sr. quote of "read my lips etc..." (Seriously, didn't Megadeth use that back in 1992's "Foreclosure of a Dream"?). I still am confused by your statement that Epica doesn't have it's own style; I think there are numerous points in the new album that I instantly recognized as "ahh they did that same arrangement style!", which is one of the reasons why I love the band so much. But perhaps you are suggesting something that changes the face of metal, which really, how much does that happen? I'm just thrilled they continue to get heavier and more difficult with each album, as I much prefer that to lighter fare.

I'll take a mid or high 8 album any day
advent - 14.11.2009 at 02:51  
I didnt like it unfortunately but it's sure contain some progressive elements . i rate 7
Sleeping Dragon - 14.11.2009 at 07:14  
Easily 10/10 after listening to it at least 20 times or so. It took me the second time around to fully appreciate the more dynamic (moreso than earlier works) song structures and symphonic elements. Virtually all of the vocals and instrumentation is top-notch, and I cannot overstate that this is a must-have in the collection of symphonic metal fans who enjoy bands such as Within Temptation and Nightwish.

"Design Your Universe" is my favorite album release of 2009, so far at least.
GT - 15.11.2009 at 18:05  
Listened to the album for the first time yesterday. It's really good and very Epica as dismal says.
Thor arise - 25.12.2009 at 01:36  
When i listened to it the first time....I gave it 10/10!!! Just a perfect album!
Metalhead777 - 24.01.2010 at 01:07  
Written by Dani5050 on 16.10.2009 at 21:24

I like the album so far, they sure got heavier, unlike other bands, but I totally hate, really hate, the interlude, with obama , martin luther king and malcom x on it. Don't know why a dutch band have to do with these people. just my 2 cents.

I disagree, (and maybe im just biased as an African American) but I think civil rights activists and the first black president would be very appropriate when talking about the "price" of freedom. Great album and review btw.
Dani5050 - 24.01.2010 at 23:38  
Written by Metalhead777 on 24.01.2010 at 01:07

Written by Dani5050 on 16.10.2009 at 21:24

I like the album so far, they sure got heavier, unlike other bands, but I totally hate, really hate, the interlude, with obama , martin luther king and malcom x on it. Don't know why a dutch band have to do with these people. just my 2 cents.

I disagree, (and maybe im just biased as an African American) but I think civil rights activists and the first black president would be very appropriate when talking about the "price" of freedom. Great album and review btw.


I understand your point of view, but as I already said, they are dutch, and Obama haven't done anything yet. Who know maybe tomorrow they will regret having him in an album.
Vonpire - 20.02.2010 at 04:30  
Hi all. New to this site.

This Epica masterpiece is the best album i've heard in a long time (maybe since How to Measure a planet? from my fav band The Gathering)

My story with Epica is a weird one. I had listened to them a few times, specially in last f.m. but never really liked them a lot. Man, What a change!!! In September i went to Vagos Open air, here in Portugal, and first night was Epica, Katatonia and then, yes, The Gathering, even without Anneke, i loved the West Pole. Ok but first band on stage... Epica. Omg, when the amazing Indigo satrted playng, man, what a ride. Simply Epica gave, by far, the best show of the night, (it was day when they started ). Enough said about my story. Then i bought their last work, and it were the best i have ever spent.

Amazing, Epic is how i describe this album. Every time you listen to it gets better and better. It has all one (at least me) can expect from a Metal band. Perfect work, Perfect singer, Perfect Melodies, Amazing heavyness, Amazing Epic (Kingdom of Heaven already in my favorite songs ever), Perfect Orchestration, in sum an incredible masterpiece achieved by Epica.

For me they grow more and more from album to album, and this one is for sure their best work so far (and, hey, now i love their previous work also, but this one...)

10 without any doubt.

I recommend this album to anyone, it's already in my top 10 albuns ever. And i really heard many many many many metal albuns at my age of 31.
Fat & Sassy! - 04.04.2010 at 00:22  
Has anyone seen the music video for Unleashed? I was so fucking confused the whole six minutes. It was like they took a Nickelback or Hoobastank video and spliced Epica into it. Fucking terrible. >:(

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eNGzltK_tlc
4look4rd - 21.11.2010 at 06:16  
Epica has to be one of the most consistent metal bands, it is very hard to pick out one bad song out of their entire discography. However, while I think that all of their songs are very good, its hard for me to find an excellent song.
renai - 07.12.2010 at 01:36  
Oh... I never listen Epica and this is my first album. up to second song... quite fantastic!
Nytraz - 16.12.2010 at 01:02  
Most definitely my favorite album from Epica thus far. While the whole album is overall fantastic, stand out's are Resign to Surrender, Unleashed, Martyr of the Free Word, Kingdom of Heaven, Burn To A Cinder, Tides Of Time, Deconstruct and Semblance of Liberty. So basically most of the album. Personally, I think Simone's voice has really reached a pinnacle on this album, her performance is amazing on every track. Not to say her singing on TDC was bad, but this album really showcases how impressive she sings. Mark's vocals have improved as well, and overall the whole package is well worth picking up.

On a side note, saw them in concert about a week ago here in California. Since metal isn't as big here in the states, they played at a small little venue in my hometown. It was such an amazing experience being up front at the center of the stage, 5 feet away from the band members. The whole experience was mind blowing and I swear Simone sounds even better live then she does on a studio album. I was glad to hear a couple of my favorites that night though, such as "Cry for the Moon, Chasing the Dragon and Consign to Oblivion" alongside their new line up. And Tides Of Time is even more amazing live
4look4rd - 05.02.2011 at 22:50  
I agree with this review. Epica does not have a unique style, but they are able to craft the perfect symphonic metal.... Every time.

my rating is a 9 or 8. 10 on every category, but it loses some points on originality. Do I mind? Of course not, its still pure magical music.
Panterica - 07.10.2011 at 16:39  
For me, it's Epica's best album to date- the band's heavier sound is merging great with Simone's voice and the Prog flourishments are always welcome at my stereo.

Advertise on Metal Storm


Login or register to post here.



Similar topics

Forum Topic Similarity Started
Albums Epica - Design Your Universe 7.5 03.03.2010 by nehrodwarf
Events GER, Munich - Epica: Design Your Universe Tour Pt. II 6 09.10.2010 by albatros
Events USA, Philadelphia, PA - Epica: Design Your Universe N. American Tour 6 14.10.2009 by Shuruga
Events USA, Milwaukee, VI - Epica: Design Your Universe N. American Tour 6 05.02.2010 by WorpeX
Events USA, St. Paul, MN - Epica: Design Your Universe N. American Tour 6 07.02.2010 by I_Die_Often



Hits total: 17145 | This month: 67