Epica The Holographic Principle

Epica The Holographic Principle
5
So Epica finally saw The Matrix, and it blew their fucking minds, you guys.
 
The Holographic Principle is a concept record that revolves around a very old philosophical problem dating back to Descartes, updated by Gilbert Harman and tackled most recently by the Wachowski siblings: the though experiment essentially states that due to the nature of our brains and the way we receive and process stimuli, we have no way of knowing that we aren't lonely brains in jars being sent electrical impulses and dreaming the entire world around us.
 
Epica might be 18 years late to the party, but The Holographic Principle jumps gleefully into this idea with predictably bombastic, joyful and delightfully tacky results. Epica do a few things well, and those skills are showcased on this record: Simone Simons has an extraordinary voice and it's placed front and centre, especially on "Once Upon a Nightmare" and the huge and operatic "A Phantasmic Parade"; and the songs are hook-laden and satisfying, ridiculously theatrical in their construction with choruses and climaxes tailor-made for maximum cheesy enjoyment. Fans of sci-fi action movies will enjoy both the thematic tributes and the cinematic flair of a lot of the songs, like the shameless anthemic quality of the Terminator-inspired "Universal Death Squad" and the absurdly entertaining "Edge of the Blade."
 
It's not exactly a good record; the song structures are extremely predictable, the flavour of symphonic metal has definitely gone harder on the operatic and much lighter on the metallic and there are almost no guitars of any interest or quality to be found. The songs also tend to equate "progressive" with "overlong and noodly," which can be tiring. But while there's a lot to criticize, The Holographic Principle is also a profoundly enjoyable record for those who have a high tolerance for cheese. If you're a sucker for the aesthetic of late '90s action with a lot of trench coats, man, do Epica have a record for you. (Nuclear Blast)