Epica - Consign To Oblivion review


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Band: Epica
Album: Consign To Oblivion
Release date: April 2005

01. Hunab K'u (A New Age Dawns - Prologue)
02. Dance Of Fate
03. The Last Crusade (A New Age Dawns - Part I)
04. Solitary Ground
05. Blank Infinity
06. Force Of The Shore
07. Quietus
08. Mother Of Light (A New Age Dawns - Part II)
09. Trois Vierges [Feat. Roy Khan]
10. Another Me (In Lack'ech)
11. Consign To Oblivion (A New Age Dawns - Part III)
12. The Fallacy [bonus]
13. Palladium [bonus]

Finally, the day has come! Epica's second album, Consign to Oblivion, the follow-up to their praised debut album The Phantom Agony has been released. What a beautiful piece of metal art it has become! I will be quick about the facts but I must tell you a bit about the musical background first.

As you all know, Epica's first release was in many ways inspired by the culture and music of the East. In fact, before the band name was changed to Epica, Mark Jansen's project was called Sahara Dust, which gives away quite a lot about the personality of this still young man. He loves to travel a lot and all the influences that he encounters somehow find their way into his music. This time the influence is the Mayan culture which Mark came across while reading a book with photos of the ancient cities. Four of the albums' songs form a quadrilogy which revolves around one concept, namely the rise, prosper and downfall of the Mayan empire. And that, my friends, is where this CD takes off…

The first song of the album is an intro, a type of song that is getting more and more popular in the gothic scene these days. We've seen Epica, Nemesea, Within Temptation and many other bands do it before, and this new album is no exception. The orchestral parts are much more important on this album and it's evident immediately in this song which is performed by the orchestra alone. It's beautiful, but above all epic. In a way, it makes you feel like you're flying over the mountain passes where the great Mayan civilization was founded. Amazing!

The second song, Dance of Fate, shows us how much Simone has improved her singing and just how much more self-confident she has become. The vocals aren't all that opera-like in this song and it's quite easy to understand the lyrics. Dance of Fate, with its nice riffs and catchy drum rythm, has death as its sad subject, and what we can do to prevent it from coming. This song is somehow very striking, and it definitely had me begging for more!

Now for my personal favourite off the new album: The Last Crusade. This song is catchy, cool, has amazing live potential (read my Epica gig review for more info on that one) and is above all an indismissable part of the 'A New Age Dawns' quadrilogy. In this song, the orchestra, choir and band come to a perfect symbiosis. This is undoubtedly the result of a long production period and an amazing mix by Miro and Sascha Paeth, a duo with whom Epica has worked with before. I can't help but hit the repeat button a couple of times before continuing to the next song: Solitary Ground…

This has been chosen as the first single, and it's quite evident why. It's very beautiful, it's quite a little slower than the other songs up until now and Simone's singing is both beautiful and understandable. I love the lyrics on this one, and I cannot tell you much more about it other than that it's pretty darn good for what it is, i.e. a ballad.

However, personally I'm a big fan of Epica's heavy side, which is why I find Blank Infinity a little more to my own liking. The soprano voice we know so well is back here, but it's combined with a deep singing voice of Simone we've never heard before. And it works too! This song is simply magnificent! You need to hear it to believe I guess, because I simply cannot explain why this works so well.

Next up: Force of the Shore. I absolutely love the beginning of this one. It hits you in the face and doesn't let go until it's over. The grunts get more important on this song, and it is with great happiness that I tell you how much the integration of the grunts has improved compared to 'The Phantom Agony'. On that album, I found the grunts to be quite annoying after a while, but I never got that feeling on 'Consign to Oblivion." Overall, this song is very powerful, and it basically shows us exactly what Epica stands for as a band. All the elements are here, and they're in perfect harmony once more.

Quietus. This is a very strange song, but I love it all the same. The song opens with a very medieval sounding melody, soon accompanied by the guitars and drum kit of the band. The entire song has an aura of folk music about it, and Simone's vocals are particularly lovely in it as she once again alters between soprano vocals and more plain singing. I really love the way she has evolved herself and her voice in different directions, this song shows it!

Now for another installment in the 'A New Age Dawns' quadrilogy, I adore this song!! There's simply no other way to say it. It all fits: singing, rythm, use of orchestrated parts, grunts by Mark, everything. The chorus is amazing, really catchy, almost sounding like one of those good ol' rythm & blues songs with many new touches added. This is quite a lengthy song among the others and it doesn't get boring anywhere. Good thing too!

Then Trois Vierges, a vocal collaboration between Simone and Roy Khan from Kamelot, the band that inspired Epica to change their initial name to what it is now. It appears that Khan was quite arrogant about his guest performance, not wanting to do it at first because he felt that singing just one song on Epica's new album wasn't worth the trouble. However, when Kamelot was in need of a female singer for the vocals on their song 'The Haunting', Simone was first to the scene and Khan could no longer refuse them his help, especially after Mark convinced him that this song was written for him and him alone. The result is a beautiful duet with a somewhat medieval feel to it, and although it may sound a little dull after Mother of Light on the first go, this song will get your attention for sure once you've listened to the album a couple of times more.

So we have come to the second last song of the album, a rather heavy and lovely song that goes by the name of Another Me "In Lack'ech." The title may sound very strange, but the song is fantastic. The vocals are once again switched between, and the choir is specifically good on this song. It makes up an important part of the song's vocals and this song surely wouldn't be the same without it. The musical composition is spot-on too, which makes this song very easy on the ear from the beginning right on to the end.

Now there's just one more song left for me to review. Consign to Oblivion, the epic title track and conclusion of the 'A New Age Dawns' story. Epica has listened well to its fans, and granted their wish of an epic, lengthy song that combines all elements and styles into one production. And so this masterpiece was born. It's heavy, epic, fast, slow, cheerful and melancholic all at the same time. Surely, the subject is a very sad one, as this song symbolizes the defeat and destruction of the great Mayan empire. The song works, and I was speechless upon listening to it for the first time around. I can't tell you much more about it, just listen to it yourself. You'll fall in love with it for sure...

Well, I guess that is about all I have to say of this new gothic metal masterpiece from my little home country of Holland. Fans, be advised that the special digibook version of the album comes with a nice making-of DVD, and that the Super Audio CD version comes with two bonus tracks I will not include in this review as I haven't heard them yet.

If you're a fan of gothic metal, this album is an absolute must have! If you'd like to sample this style of music and see if it's your thing, you can't go far wrong with this one. It's got something for everyone, and even the most hardened metal heads will be melted by Simone's beautiful voice sooner or later. Get this if you can!

Written by Lost one | 22.05.2005


Guest review disclaimer:
This is a guest review, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.


Comments: 10   Visited by: 115 users
07.07.2006 - 08:12
The Alchemist
Well Lost One, congratulations to you for this excellent review, though it took some time to read it

I liked very much the fact that you included some facts about the band, and the main inspiration of this album: the mayan civilization, one of the main reasons why Mark loves Mayan culture: the ability of this people to live in harmony with nature, one thing that many people in the modern world can't do

Your opinions in every song of the album are excellent, I really liked the way you describe the songs: "Hunab K'u", "Solitary Ground", "Quietus", "Trois Vierges" and "Consign To Obvilion", there I can see that you really know the band

Personally, I love this album, this is another masterpiece of Gothic Metal, every song is just perfect with lots of elements that are perfectly distributed, with many classical music influences and the beautiful ballad "Solitary Ground"
On the other hand I admire a lot the band members, specially Mark, Simone and Coen, Mark for the interest of traveling and other cultures knowledge, Simone because of the way she sings, even without taking singing lesons! and Coen becasue of his musical studies.
So, with these musicians it's logical that they can release such a great music, full of talent and interesting messages, because the lyrics of this album are excellent too.

Great review for a great album, Consign To Obvilion is a classical album and the best of Epica

I'm not afraid to die, I'm afraid to be alive without being aware of it
Sensorium - Epica
06.01.2007 - 14:34
Good review. I really like this album, but there are two things that Epica need to work on for their next release, I think.

One: Simone's vocals. Beautiful at times, yet at others she sounds as if she's not trying...it's a bit 'poppier', which I don't mind, but I would love to hear an album with her doing mostly operatic vocals, as she has one of the sweetest voices in the industry.

Two: Guitars. Mark Jansen wrote some very good riffs in After Forever, and I'm sure he plays a huge role in the orchestration of Epica, but the riffs are non-existent! If Epica could write some more guitar-oriented material (that still doesn't compromise on the classical principles), it would be 100% killer, in my book.
14.02.2007 - 13:09
I don't like this album. The songs are extremely boring and repetitive (Another Me (In Lack'ech) being one of the worst songs of the album), the choirs are plain and dull, the symphonic elements are well orchestrated but don't have any strenght, the lyrics are terribly overwritten, and in general Consign... lacks a little bit of everything.

And, why do you insist on calling Epica a gothic metal band? They play symphonic metal, they have a femmale singer, they are sooo dark and deeep... But they are not gothic metal! As After Forever, they are a heavy/power metal band with lots of cathiness and symphony, but not Gothic, for Lovecraft's sake.
01.09.2007 - 03:33
Account deleted
I am agree with Nasi2, this album has nothing special and most of the songs are boring. But still i have to admit not all of them are a digrace, for example Consign To Oblivion (A New Age Dawns Pt 3) is the only song which is creative and is worth listening.

And i think this band has to work on its materia, because i think this is a bad copy of nightwish... matense marica...... X (
21.09.2007 - 21:54
Account deleted
this is one of the best albums Epica ever released.
It has very challenging tracks.
03.04.2008 - 06:55
Liver Failure
very beautiful album.. i enjoy specially Quietus and Black Infinity.

member of the true crusade against old school heavy metal, early 80s thrash, NWOBHM, traditional doom, first and second wave black metal, old school death metal, US power metal, 70s prog rock and atmospheric doomsludgestoner. o/
25.05.2009 - 21:57
Solid album with amazing perfomances by all the musicians. Simone Simons continues to amaze us with her beautiful voice and looks. The song "Solitary Ground" is one of the most beautiful balads ive heard in all my life.
Stay Metal!
19.03.2010 - 20:17
This is a good album, but for me it's the weakest from Epica.

Lst 2 works are soooooo much better!
Beware the Shadows of Dusk
23.10.2010 - 01:49
Account deleted
Epica's best release. The following albums lacked the inspiration and pure songwriting. Divine Conspiracy (the song, but also the album) was predictable from the very first seconds, there was no surprise nor effort. OTOH "This is the album I have always wanted to make" (Mark Jansen on the special edition booklet) is absolutely true of Consign to Obvlivion, it is a true gothic symphonic metal masterpiece. It's too bad that after you create the album you have always wanted to make, there will be nothing left for another masterpiece.

Anyway, thank you Epica for this album, I shall treasure it for the rest of my life.
09.04.2011 - 21:10
Absolutely love this album, and it's my favorite from Epica. So many great songs! My favorites are the title track, "The Last Crusade," "Solitary Ground," "Quietus" and "Mother of Light'" I've been lucky enough to see the band live twice this past year, and it's easy to see why/how they quickly sell out the house. Amazing!

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