I hold a really noble Digi-Book in my hands. It's the debut of the Dutch EPICA! Hm, I immediately think of NIGHTWISH, a bit THERION but also AFTER FOREVER! The latter is less surprising, because a certain Mark Janssen is involved, too and he was resonsible for some growls on AFTER FOREVER! He does that also on EPICA but his part is rather sparse. That's good, because I get the feeling that his grunts seem to be a bit out of place.
Otherwise we get eight well-produced, opulently-staged mini operas, which have some highlights, but at first, they overcharge you with their epic, dramatic art and classic. Especially Simone Simons cuts a more than fine figure here. Her trained voice can easyily compete with Tarja as well as Floor Jansen. To add is the 8 man/woman strong EPICA-orchestra as well as the EPICA choir, so there is a lot expense to find. The resulting bombast sound is really impressive but works not always.
Maybe I'm a bit satiated by similar records, but if "The Phantom Agony" had been released a few years ago, my enthusiasm would be much higher. But who digs generally on orchestra Metal can't do nothing wrong with this record. As said before, this disc is very pretentious and the musicians are first-class! (Online August 20, 2003)