Album Review: Epica – Ωmega (Nuclear Blast)

Ωmega is the eighth studio album by the Dutch symphonic metal band Epica. It is set to be released on 26th February 2021 via Nuclear Blast.

Expect magnificence and opulent heaviness and that’s what will be provided as only Epica are capable of delivering. It’s in their name after all and Ωmega is the symphonic metal band rising up to once again take their place at the top table of this genre.

A sprawling epic, Ωmega has a lot to take in even if it’s not necessarily more complex than what you might expect from the symphonic metal masters. That’s not a slur, far from it, it’s simply that Epica have become so adept at delivering bombastic tunes over the many years that it comes easy to them. Or at least seems too.

One of the most appealing things about Ωmega is how it tends to focus on the heavy metal part of their sound. This is a heavy album, where the drums and bass properly thump away, the guitars hum with lively riffing and of course, the duelling vocals. One gruff and rooted in the death metal style, the other being Simone Simons’ mezzo-soprano brilliance.

It’s all of these elements, plus a hyper tempo and a lavish symphonic accompaniment that makes the first track, Abyss of Time – Countdown to Singularity fly by in a blur of lights, colours and sounds. Then, when the likes of The Skeleton Key drops into melody, it’s with a fragility that shines through brightly. Both as bombastic as each other but in differently pleasing ways.

Faster, larger and more intense they go, with the meaty sound of Seal of Solomon and punchy orchestration of Gaia. The former drops a guitar solo that absolutely slays while the latter’s use of choir vocals adds some serious oomph to the track.

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It’s something with a bit of a Middle Eastern flavour as Code of Life shows off some variety. However it’s the strong main riff and incredible chorus that truly stands out here. Before the magnificence of Freedom – The Wolves Within comes thumping out of the dark forest to send shivers down spines. Followed by the monstrous effort of Kingdom of Heaven, Part 3 – The Antediluvian Universe.

Epica at their largest, Epica at their most ‘soundtracky’ and Epica at their most polarising. The latter because up to this point, Epica have been dealing out fast-paced variety rooted in metal. This track doubles the average length to about 13 minutes and focuses much more on the symphonic elements, turning and twisting in the wind like a paper bag. Is it stunning? Of course, everything they do is but there’s no disputing that it’s a challenge to get all the way through it without the mind beginning to wander.

No such problem for Rivers or Synergize – Manic Manifest. The former, a ballad that highlights the strength in Simone’s vocals while having a heavier touch towards the end. The latter, proving to have a very apt name as it burns with manic energy and screams ‘explosive fireworks and pyro’ when played in the live environment eventually.

Still here? Still holding on to the Ωmega train? Good. As there’s just a little further to go and this train shows no signs of slowing down or coming off the rails. It, like Epica in general, is too well put together. Twilight Reverie – The Hypnagogic State and Omega – Sovereign of the Sun Spheres sharing the distinct honour of being undoubtedly massive Epica tracks to close out the album but having their own unique touches and flourishes to differentiate between them.

Which is a massive positive, not just for these two but the album as a whole. So much symphonic metal could start to mush and meld together, yet that never happens. Such is the power of Epica and their position at the top table.

Epica – Ωmega Full Track Listing:

1. Alpha – Anteludium
2. Abyss of Time – Countdown to Singularity
3. The Skeleton Key
4. Seal of Solomon
5. Gaia
6. Code of Life
7. Freedom – The Wolves Within
8. Kingdom of Heaven, Part 3 – The Antediluvian Universe
9. Rivers
10. Synergize – Manic Manifest
11. Twilight Reverie – The Hypnagogic State
12. Ωmega – Sovereign of the Sun Spheres




Links

Website | Nuclear Blast

Epica - Ωmega (Nuclear Blast)
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