That old saying, a tale of two halves, couldn’t be more appropriate than with Epica’s latest offering ‘Epica Vs Attack On Titan’. The foundations to the album are constructed of ultimately 4 songs, but duplicated between the 1st half being a full out symphonic attack, and the second half, a more restrained duplicate in the form of instrumentals, with the release getting an official label of an EP.

The substance of the release is cover songs based on the anime Attack On Titan and was released, originally just in Japan, in December 2017, but will now be unleashed worldwide.

‘Crimson Bow And Arrow’ opens up the beast with a grandiose intro of dramatic drums and horns, signalling the arrival of a behemoth, and this is all backed up by some magnificent operatic vocals. The band then kicks in with a vengeance with pounding drums and supersonic keys. Before too long, the piece falls silent, and it leaves Simons in the spotlight to exhibit her epic vocal talents in the true Epica trademark style, and to add even more, the Epica recipe gets exposed mid track, when the growled vocals add the rawness to the beauty, and not one of the band are missed out of the mix, with each being showcased prominently, yet together to create a majestic tirade

‘Wings Of Freedom’ has a royal air about it, with its intro setting you up for the journey about to follow. The body of the track then kicks in at breakneck speed with Simons working perfectly with Jansen, Delahaye and Van Der Loo, whilst Van Weesenbeek keeps the spine of the beast attached to the soul of the creation with opulent craftsmanship. Growling vocals are utilised again, and these are quicker than previous efforts and it is all done with seemingless ease.

‘If Inside These Walls Was A House’ exhibits a mesmerising start with Simons vocals stripped back beautifully, and the piece then builds slowly with angelic backing and it could almost sit prominent on an epic soundtrack for a Broadway masterpiece. The drums and guitars add more beauty to the piece and it builds, and builds, to a crescendo which ends with Simons casting an aural spell over your mind, body and soul. Sheer beauty.

‘Dedicate Your Heart’ starts with a piano doodle, and then the band kick in with pulsating and pounding beats and operatic vocals which add substance to the vocal range… The track injects insane key skills throughout, more so than the rest of the tracks, which already see a blistering pace set by Janssen, and Simons ends the proceedings accompanied by male vocal choir backing

Then we move to the officially entitled instrumentals which replicate and mirror the previous 4 tracks. They aren’t just a copy of the blue prints minus Simons though; they seem to add a new dimension to the tracks.

Not usually being a fan of instrumentals, I was a little reticent to carry on past the first 4 tracks, but on giving them a few listens, they really work as stand-alone tracks, whether this being down to the power and energy being exuded, or the fact that there are still some elements of vocals encased in the shell of the tracks, either way, I urge you to give this a go in its entirety, and definitely at your earliest opportunity. You will not be disappointed.

(9/10 Phil Pountney)