Both musically and lyrically, symphonic metal linchpins Epica remain fully beholden to their name, but even in the adrenaline-fixated world of metal is it possible that they’re reaching saturation point? After nine albums Simone Simons and chums are showing no signs of letting up with Omega. Its 12 tracks of strings and hulking great choirs à la Carl Orff are wrapped around their omega point theory conceptual framework for maximum sensory explosion.
With so many layers of unadulterated bombast, it almost feels as though Epica are striving for excess, yet in characteristic style, it’s tastefully done. Recorded with the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra and a children’s choir, Omega bursts with cinematic soundscapes that are balanced beautifully on the album’s more sensitive moment, Rivers, swelling with childlike emotion as it reaches its crescendo. By contrast, the Eastern-tinged Seal Of Solomon – a flavour that Epica often apply to add a luxurious, otherworldly gleam to their sound – opts for their tried and tested fast-and-heavy tactic.
Stacked up against their back catalogue, though, it’s hard to put Omega in the same league as The Divine Conspiracy and Design Your Universe for a simple lack of memorable songs, but peel back the histrionics and there are compositions here that hint at being future fan favourites. Code Of Life, for all of Mark Jansen’s angry-man growling, is one of the best platforms for Simone’s vocal talent while the shamelessly self-indulgent Kingdom Of Heaven Part 3 finds enough catchiness and unbridled drama within its 13-plus minutes to justify its length. Never ones to disappoint, Epica once again reach their epic quotient on Omega without choking, perhaps proving that too much of a good thing is a good thing.