In 2009, Epica
released a 2 CD live album called “The Classical Conspiracy
”. Part Two
of this review covers the second CD.
The second CD from Epica
’s 2009 live album “The Classical Conspiracy
” is aptly subtitled ‘The Epica
Set’ because all of the songs are from past Epica
the compositional and technical brilliance of the music as it is written and played lies this recording’s greatest characteristic and that is the high quality of this production. It is simply magnificent. When you consider the sheer output that the band, orchestra, and choir combined delivers it must be noted above all else that not only was their total sound wonderfully captured but leveled in such a way that no contribution ever sounds muffled, smothered, or disproportionate. The electric power of the band does not drown out the orchestra and the choir doesn’t take away from lead singer Simone Simons, and so on and so forth. The result of this amazing capture of sound makes what is already an incredible body of work an all the more pleasurable experience.
Technical details of the live production aside, a big reason for this project’s success comes from the compositional structure of the songs themselves. Epica
’s music by definition is orchestra and symphonic by design. The magic, therefore, of this project does not come from added parts allotted to the orchestra to provide a more ample contribution, but rather the substitution of what originally was the synthesizer parts for the orchestra to take over. The result is that these songs never, ever deviate from their original designs, nor are they new versions, either. They are enhanced, more organic, and more alive. Synthesized parts are now authentic. Keyboardist Coen Janssen plays piano (“Safeguard to Paradise
”) for example. In general, with the symphony there is added power (“Blank Infinity
”), depth (“The Phantom Agony
”, “Sancta Terra”) and diversity (check out the glockenspiel in the verse line on “Beyond Belief
” for instance. Little nuggets of added flavor like this are found everywhere).
As is the philosophical standard for Epica
, the metallic personality of the band is well represented (“Consign to Oblivion
”, especially with its explosive entrance) and out in front on all of the tracks. Percussion-wise and bass-wise, their low end sound reverberates with palpitating force (“Never Enough
”, “Beyond Belief
”, and “Black Infinity
” to name a few) and is just an awesome backbone for every other tone and register that plays. Elsewhere, the choir is beautiful with slightly altered arrangements to maximize the new number of voices, as opposed to the single digit contributors on the original recordings, and lastly, the crowd is into it as well. An intimate setting, they are quite lively and heavily involved. There is one person that hoots just a little too much over one ill-placed microphone, but don’t lock into that. It’s a speck of imperfection on an otherwise perfect record.
The idea of a live orchestra combining with a heavy metal band for a night has been done before and more often than one might believe, but Epica
’s “The Classical Conspiracy
” should be considered among the best ever. At the very least, it is one of the most wonderful live musical experiences to have come out in 2009.