Label : Nuclear Blast Records

Review by Tony Cannella

On June the 14th 2008, Holland symphonic metal legends Epica played a very special show in Miskolc, Hungary. The concert was dubbed “The Classical Conspiracy” and it saw the band backed by a full orchestra for the entire gig and it was no small production as you can tell by the contents of this two disc set. Most of the first disc is comprised of classical favorites, while the last 6-songs of disc 1 and all of disc 2 are made of Epica performing their classics backed by the orchestra. There is a lot of music contained on this collection, so let’s get right to it. The CD opens with a Yves Huts (bass player) composition called “Palladium”. Straight away, it shows you how multi talented the band is when they can include a classical piece that they wrote to include amongst the other classics here. “Dies Irae” and “Ombra Mai Fu” are definitely worthwhile tracks, and the 9-minute “Adagio” is also very well done and quite the musical journey. The band and orchestra are at their best when playing music soundtrack stuff, like the “Spiderman Medley”. I have always felt that Epica‘s music lent itself quite well to the cinema, so it is appropriate to hear them doing some movie stuff. “Presto” and “Montagues & Capulets” are also nice additions. To me the highlight of the symphony part is their rendition of “The Imperial March” (aka Darth Vader’s theme from the Star Wars movies), in my opinion this is one of the coolest pieces of music ever written and the band succeed in doing it justice and respect. Other highlights include another Yves Huts composition “Unholy Trinity” and the final number “In the Hall of the Mountain King”, I am sure that most people will recognize this song even if you didn’t know the title. With the orchestra portion of the show complete, the disc one is completed by some Epica classics while the band is still backed by the orchestra. The intro track “Indigo” from The Divine Conspiracy” starts things as the band launches into the great track “The Last Crusade”. The favorites keep on coming as that is followed by “Sensorium”, “Quietus” and the 8-minute track “Chasing The Dragon”. The first disc is concluded with one of the very underrated ballad “Feint” from “The Phantom Agony”. It’s cool to hear the band dust this song off and play it live. The second disc begins with a couple of songs from awesome  The Divine Conspiracy”. First up is the albums first single “Never Enough” and that is followed by the equally lethal “Beyond Belief”. Front woman Simone Simons is in fine voice here and it is easy to see why many fans consider The Divine Conspiracy” Epica‘s best recorded work to date (although that is certainly debatable). The band delve into their past a bit for “Cry for the Moon” as the crowd reacts favorably to this live favorite, the chemistry between Simone and Mark Jansen is really on display here as Mark adds his grunts to this one. “Safeguard to Paradise”, “Blank Infinity” (from the excellent “Consign to Oblivion”) and “Living a Lie” are next. The highlight of all highlights comes on “The Phantom Agony” from their debut album of the same name. This is just a big epic song that is made to be played with an orchestra, it is just a great song that I am sure will be played at every Epica show and the audience just eats it up. The final three songs “Sancta Terra”, “Illusive Consensus” and the 12-minute “Consign to Oblivion” brings things to grand, satisfying conclusion.I would say that this CD is a huge achievement for the band. It definitely shows another side to them and their cohesion along with the orchestra is seamless. Even if you are not into the symphony stuff, there is a lot of their own material included and that definitely makes it an essential release for any Epica fan.  

Review – 80/100

 

Tracklist 

Disc 1 – The Classical Set

  1. Palladium
  2. Dies Irae (from Giuseppe Verdi: “Requiem”)
  3. Ombra Mai Fu (from George Frideric Handel: “Xerxes”)
  4. Adagio (from Antonín Dvoƙák: “New World Symphony”)
  5. Spiderman Medley (from Danny Elfman: “Spider-Man”)
  6. Presto (from Antonio Vivaldi: “The Four Seasons”)
  7. Montagues and Capulets (from Sergei Prokofiev: “Romeo and Juliet”)
  8. The Imperial March (from John Williams: “Star Wars Episode V”)
  9. Stabat Mater Dolorosa (from Giovanni Battista Pergolesi: “Stabat Mater”)
  10. Unholy Trinity
  11. In the Hall of the Mountain King (from Edvard Grieg: “Peer Gynt”)
  12. Pirates of the Caribbean Medley (from Hans Zimmer/Klaus Badelt: “Pirates of the Caribbean”)
  13. Indigo
  14. The Last Crusade
  15. Sensorium
  16. Quietus
  17. Chasing the Dragon
  18. Feint

 

Disc 2 – Epica Set

  1. Never Enough
  2. Beyond Belief
  3. Cry for the Moon
  4. Safeguard to Paradise
  5. Blank Infinity
  6. Living a Lie
  7. The Phantom Agony
  8. Sancta Terra
  9. Illusive Consensus
  10. Consign to Oblivion

 

Line Up 

  • Simone Simons – Vocals
  • Mark Jansen – Guitars, Scream & Grunts
  • Isaac Delahaye – Guitars
  • Coen Jansen – Keyboards
  • Yves Huts – Bass
  • Ariën Van Weesenbeek – Drums

 

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