Title: The Phantom Agony
Genre: Power Metal
Bitrate: 320 kbps
Booklet + Lyrics Included
01. Adyta (The Neverending Embrace)
03. Cry For The Moon (The Embrace That Smothers - Part IV)
05. Illusive Consensus
06. Facade Of Reality (The Embrace That Smothers - Part V)
07. Run For A Fall
08. Seif Al Din (The Embrace That Smothers - Part VI)
09. The Phantom Agony
This is Epica's first album and an excellent example of symphonic metal, with great melodies, an orchestra and a chorus, beautiful operatic vocals by Simone and of course the few necessary growls thrown in. There is also lots of Latin here, which I find enjoyable, starting with track 1, a short prelude.
If you have read some of my other reviews, you know I also am impressed by good lyrics. We have them here starting with track 2: "Chance doesn't exist" and "Our future has already been written by us alone." This may sound familiar, if you know the song When the Lights Are Down, track 2 of the Black Halo by Kamelot, which has "Every move you make creates your destiny." Maybe not surprisingly, Simone shows up on the Black Halo.
More lyrics: track 3, a ballad, has "Follow your common sense" (always good advice) which is sung to a marvelous melody. Track 7 is also a nice ballad and supposedly reflects guitarist Mark Jansen's frustration with his former group After Forever. (As you probably know, there is a lot of similarity between this group and A/F, in addition to both being from the Netherlands.)
Then there is track 6, Facade of Reality. Included here are two short sections of a speech by Tony Blair concerning 9/11. In one he says "This mass terrorism is the new evil in our world today." This is followed by a male voice whispering "It doesn't matter where we die/It doesn't matter that you cry/We will take you with us." Also on this track is an extreme vocal (growling) saying "Our desire to die is stronger/than all your desire for life." Don't know about you, but I find both quite chilling indeed. Add to this track 8, Seif Al Din (Sword of Faith), which is obviously about Islamic Fundamentalism with a spoken section (Simone?) that has "This misuse of trust will forever stain the pages of history, echoing the exploitation and the frailty of decent men..." and they have my attention.
Track 8 finishes with approximately the last 40 seconds being instrumental only. Track 9 then begins with Simone whispering a number of lines which end with "I can't taste you. I can't think of you/Do we exist at all?" This is followed by full chorus and orchestra powerfully stating, among other things, "We are afraid of all the things that could not be/A phantom agony." This is music that affects emotionally!