Part opera, part heavy metal, and a big part progressive metal, Epica’s debut album The Phantom Agony is an incredibly interesting conglomeration. If that sounds like your kind of bag, read on.
Many of the songs on The Phantom Agony sound like they should be performed on Broadway. Others sound like the soundtrack to a magic show, with frantic drums, female chants, and lots of chants. Never before have I heard metal and opera blended together so tastefully.
“Cry for the Moon” slowly transforms from an operatic piece with a choir-sung chorus into a progressive metal track. Simone Simons’ voice inconspicuously drops from the mix to be replaced first by an earthy growl, followed by high pitched black metal screams. This general pattern continues throughout the disc, with songs continually sliding back and forth in style and tempo between progressive metal and full blown opera. “Facade of Reality” really picks up the pace, with a string section and nearly shouting chorus keeping up with very quick and precise kick drums.
Musically, The Phantom Agony is incredible. “Seif Al Din” in particular reminds me of a cross between Dream Theater and The Project Hate in execution. I’d love to see this band live — the musicianship on this disc is phenominal, and I’ve love to see if the band can recreate it in a live setting. The production doesn’t fail the band, adding to the “important” feeling of the tracks.
While not for everybody, Epica’s The Phantom Agony is a unique blend of rock and opera that will blow you away should you give it the chance. It’s a little more dramatic and a little less fun than I normally like my music, but the grand scale on which it is presented warrants attention.