Released: 2003, Noise Records
Kamelot return with their highly anticipated album entitled EPICA! Once more Sascha Paeth and Miro produced the recording. There is a limited Edition digipak version of EPICA containing a multimedia section done by Mya Productions, a bonus track called "Snow", and an EPICA tattoo. The version I have is a promo copy, so I’ll be reviewing the heart of the CD – the music.
Without doubt this is Kamelot’s most adventurous, ambitious, and epic sounding album to date! The band has been building toward this album as evidenced by their two previous masterpieces: KARMA (2001) and THE FOURTH LEGACY (2000). EPICA is an album that shares common ground with these, but they have taken things further with a feel from both the music and lyrics that tops what they’ve done in the past. If you prefer more straight up songs, then the album is not designed for that type of listening. This is an album best listened to in one setting. When I first heard the album I was taken a bit by surprise with the journey that the music takes you on. There are moments like the first full song on here entitled “Center Of The Universe” which will be very familiar territory to Kamelot fans as one of their faster double kicking powerhouses like “Across The Highlands” or “Nights of Arabia”. Don’t expect an album of just that style though. To understand where I’m coming from, that is what I like most about Kamelot – the fast and heavy tracks. That is why when I had my very fist listen to EPICA I was not fully prepared for all the musical twists and turns. I’ve had the CD in constant rotation since early December 2002 and it was after about 10 listens that I really started to form an opinion on the album and to begin to realize that this is the band’s best work do date. In fact, for the style of music Kamelot plays, hardly any band comes close to this caliber of material. Hardcore Rhapsody fans will notice something about the track ´Descent of the Archangel` without even reading the liner notes. When I first heard the guitar solo in this one I was thinking that Thom was playing a very Luca Turilli inspired solo. After reading the credits I discovered that is was indeed Luca Turilli playing a solo in that one! There are other guests on the album like the voice of Ian Parry (Elegy) appears in the interlude 'Dawn', and classical singer Mari (Titania) performs the female lead on Helena's Theme as well as several parts throughout the album. I wasn’t as fond as her voice since it is a bit “tiny” and thin sounding to me, but that’s a minor complaint since lead vocalist Roy Kahn as usual shines throughout the album.
As I mentioned above, EPICA best plays like a single piece of music. The reason is because this is a concept album. The EPICA tale is based on Johann Wolfgang von Goethe´s ´Faust`. The storyline and concept are not light reading material and it’s not something I have had the time to sit and read through as much as I’ve had the time to listen to the music itself. If you want to learn more about the EPICA concept, the best place (besides reading your CD booklets!) is to go to http://www.kamelot.com.
They have a fairly in depth section in there called “More on Epica” which lays out the multi-layered storyline and themes as well as highlighting the main characters.
Everything about EPICA positions this album as one of the best for 2003. I know it’s only early January 2003, but Kamelot has already set the bar VERY high making it quite difficult for others to attempt to reach this level. Kamelot fans will no doubt love EPICA. If you are not a big fan of this style of metal, then Kamelot may well be one of the bands from this style that may sneak in into your CD player on occasion.