Dutch pomp-metal band Epica, fronted by classically trained mezzo-soprano Simone Simons, released their second album for Nuclear Blast only a year after their label debut, the more unique The Classical Conspiracy. That two-disc live set found them performing a mix of classical works and their own songs with backing by a full orchestra and choir. This album offers more of their bombastic goth metal songs, with Simons' vocals floating atop an ever flowing stream of complicated drumming, epic riffs, and shredtastic solos. The use of orchestral instruments to add John Williams-like climaxes is intermittently successful, but the music is just as frequently stripped down to an unaccompanied piano or to just the rock band, and that works, too. The very occasional interruption of male death growls is less necessary; frankly, the band should just let Simons do her Sarah Brightman-esque thing and keep the riffs cranking behind her. If you like this sort of thing (Lacuna Coil, Nightwish, After Forever, Leaves' Eyes, etc., etc.), or if you're a big Andrew Lloyd Webber fan, this is exactly the sort of thing you'll like.
AllMusic Review by Phil Freeman