Music Review – Design Your Universe by Epica

I was emailed by my best friend with a song in it a few months ago, and I liked it so much that I eventually got a hold of the entire album, and was blown away by how good it was.

The songs have very catchy melodies, and to the trained musicians, there are things going on everywhere all the time, which makes for an album that gets played over, and over, and over…  Just to give you an idea, I’ve probably played this album back to back on my playlist for a couple of months now, with a few other albums cutting in maybe here and there; at the end of the day, I always end up coming back to this album.

Simone Simmons, a very well known front woman in the metal world, known for her powerful operatic vocals that cuts right through the thick and heavy metal guitars and double bass blasts from the rest of the band, did a perfect job delivering her signature style vocals on this album.

The guitar solos were amazing, and the guitar tone sounds real good on here.  I guess the main rhythm guitars’ tones were derived from using both a Mesa and a Marshall amp doubling up.  I don’t think all the songs were played through 7-string guitars, but quite a few were, which had a great heavy, tight tone to them, not sloppy and run together like some other bands that use tuned down 6-strings instead.

The songs are complex, but very listenable.  There are some prog influences here and there, but they are not prominent like on Dream Theater’s songs.

The keyboard parts are amazing, reminds me a little bit of Tuomas Holopainen from Nightwish’s style, but distinctly unique to Epica’s own music.

The album starts off with a sort of overture that leads into the 2nd song, and from there, you’re taken through a musical ride for the rest of the album.  A few of the songs on here are tied in with songs from their previous albums to form the story of “A New Age Dawns”, and one song in particular, even has some voice acting thrown in to make the story more vivid than just lyrics.

There are some political songs on here as well, but as I do not like political statements made through songs, I will not comment on them other than musically, they were awesome songs.

There were even a couple of ballads on here, which really showcases Simone’s beautiful voice.

Overall, if you’re into epic metal songs, with a little bit of operatic feel to the vocals, this album is for you.

Here’s the official video of Unleashed, the song that I was first shown by my friend through the email.

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