The Quantum Enigma

SKU: 103054
Label:
Nuclear Blast
Category:
Power Metal
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"Recently Dutch symphonic metal outfit Epica celebrated their first decade as a band with a massive show and a release of a DVD and now they’re back with a brand new studio album, which may very well be their finest moment to date…

On “The Quantum Enigma” Epica has grown far beyond their humble musical beginnings. The symphonic elements and the massive choirs are still very much in place, but the band has found a new sense of renewed vigour and focus. High paced scorchers like ‘The Second Stone’, ‘The Essence Of Silence’ and ‘Reverence – Living In The Heart’ are poignant examples of the aforementioned refound sense of urgency. The band isn’t afraid to incorporate elements from thrash, death and progressive metal in their musical fabric, which makes this album a tempting listening adventure for people who aren’t necessarily into female fronted/symphonic metal.

Vocalist Simone Simons shines on tracks like ‘Omen – The Ghoulish Malady’ and ‘Canvas Of Life’, while Arien van Weesenbeek shows his drumming prowess in the aforementioned ‘The Second Stone’ and ‘Essence Of Silence’. A special mention should go to guitarist Isaac Delahaye. His tasteful leads and solos are the proverbial icing on the cake. Particularly the main guitar solo in ‘The Quantum Enigma – Kingdom Of Heaven part 2’ is simply mindboggling.

Production-wise “The Quantum Enigma” is a true gem, thanks to the considerable talents of Joost van den Broek (ReVamp, MaYan) and Jacob Hansen (Volbeat, Pestilence). The direct and in-your-face production sound gives the album a definitive edge which is somewhat lacking on some of Epica’s earlier works.

“The Quantum Enigma” is the sort of record where everything comes together. Great songs, great atmosphere and the band has finally managed to capture the energy of their live shows on a studio album. It’s still early in the year, but “The Quantum Enigma” is destined to become one of the musical highlights of 2014." - This Is Not A Scene

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    $6.00
  • Maxophone was one of the great "one and done" bands of the Italian scene.  They recorded one great album in 1977 (some of you may be familiar with their English language version) and then imploded like countless other prog bands did in 1977.Live In Tokyo features a reformed lineup recorded in Tokyo in 2013.  They do faithful recreations of the material from their eponymous album.
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  • I'm going to get straight to the point.  If you are a fan of female fronted metal you must own this album.  The Human Contradiction is a complete triumph.  It finds the band returning a bit to their roots.  There are still poppy elements - that's part of their core sound - but there is a heaviness that will remind you of Lucidity.  Nightwish's Marco Hietala returns contributing on clean vocals. Also back is Orphanage vocalist George Oosthoek who is one of the best growlers in the metal scene.  Arch Enemy vocalist Alissa White-Gluz makes a guest appearance.Timo Somers' guitar riffs are chunkier, Charlotte's voice is impeccable as always, and Martijn's keyboards are simply epic.  The album was recorded at Studio Fredman and sounds massive.  Weaving the whole album together is a sci-fi theme borrowed from the writings of Octavia Butler.This is an album filled with a enough earworm hooks to drive you crazy but at the same time its heavy!  For my taste its a top 10 album for 2014.  BUY OR DIE!
    $12.00
  • "Besides the SWF (German south-west broadcast) series with German bands of the Krautrock era, Long Hair start a new series with recordings form the vaults of Bavarian Broadcast Corporation (located in Munich). Volume 1 of the series is dedicated to Aera, one of Germany´s finest bands of this time and well known because of their albums 'Humanum Est' and 'Hand und Fuss' (vinyl version re-released on Long Hair, LHC43 and LHC44). On January 9,1975 Aera with the line-up (same as on 'Humanum Est') Muck Groh, guitar, Klaus Kreuzeder, sax and flute, Dieter Bauer, bass and drummer Wolfgang Teske, performed in an extraordinary setting-St. George´s Church in Freising, district of Munich. The idea of the concert was to open the church for contemporary music and to give the musicians the chance to interpret the Roman Catholic liturgy, the 'Holy Mass', with their music. Aera went a long with the five components of the holy mass and played two titles of their up coming album 'Humanum Est' and another three titles that were not included on any album. The titles presented during the second part of the concert were earlier versions of titles that were later released on the album 'Hand und Fuss'. Aera played more than 75 minutes. All titles were digitally remastered from original master tape. Booklets contains story and a review of the concert and rare photos. Highly recommended!"
    $18.00
  • "Always fond of conceptual storytelling, Ian Anderson goes himself one better with his latest prog-folk-metal concept album. The 15 songs of Homo Erraticus inhabit not one but two metafictional layers. The Gerald Bostock character, hero/anti-hero of the seminal Jethro Tull album Thick as a Brick and its recent sequel Thick as a Brick 2, is back again, having now discovered a manuscript left behind in the 1920s by a malaria-ridden old British soldier delightfully named Ernest T. Parritt.Parritt's supposed writings range over northern European history from the Mesolithic era to his own - and on into his future, through the whole 20th century and into our own time and beyond. Winnowed into lyrics written by "Bostock" and set to music by the real protagonist of the story, Ian Anderson, these materials give Anderson - whose creative scope and energy remain robust even as his singing voice has thinned with age - a walk-in-closetful of pegs on which to hang a sequence of songs evoking nothing less than the history of mankind in his part of the world.The first track, "Doggerland," commemorates the area of the southern North Sea that used to be dry land connecting today's British Isles with the rest of Europe. Doggerland vanished under the waves as the last Ice Age ended but, as fisherman discovered not long ago, the sea floor retains much archeological evidence of human occupation. The succeeding songs address migrations, metalworking, invasions (from the Romans to Burger King), the arrival of Christianity, the Industrial Revolution, and so on. To appreciate the songs, you'll want to (at least once) follow along with the notes and lyrics in the accompanying 32-page booklet.The Foreword, in which Anderson discusses the history of Jethro Tull and why he hasn't used the band name for his last few recordings, will especially interest longtime Tull fans. The real question is, will the songs themselves? Some yes, some no. The gruff metal of "Doggerland" gives way to the sweet, plinking folk of "Heavy Metals." (I imagine Anderson chuckling to himself at the irony - no pun intended - of creating such a gentle-sounding song with that title, and on that literal topic.) Both satisfy my Tull craving. "Meliora Sequamur" (Let Us Follow Better Things), which paints a picture of 12th century schoolboys amid religious chant (and cant), does too, and "The Turnpike Inn" is a solid rocker, and the hard-Celtic style of "The Engineer" moves briskly.I like the instrumental track "Tripudium ad Bellum" (Dancing to War). It starts off with an echo of a theme from the original Thick as a Brick (there are others elsewhere on the album), then resolves into a 5/4 march, like a more insistent "Living in the Past." War's aftermath appears in the next track, the sad, deliberate "After These Wars," in which I really feel the lack of Anderson's full-strength vocals. While he was never among rock's greatest singers, that didn't matter - when he sang his songs, you always felt he was all there, and that's what mattered. But now, and not only in the harder songs that shade into old-school heavy metal, his voice just isn't always a match for his music's energy any more.On the other hand, his gift for crafting pleasing, original melodies, writing smart, clever lyrics in complete sentences and true rhyme, and setting much of it in non-traditional time signatures remains strong. The first verse of "After These Wars" reads:After battle, with wounds to lick andbeaus and belles all reuniting.Rationing, austerity: it did us good after the fighting.Now, time to bid some fond farewells andwalk away from empires crumbling.Post-war baby-boom to fuel with post-Victorian half-dressed fumbling.No one in pop music writes like that anymore.Listening to the album as a complete conceptual work, my overall feeling is that there isn't very much new here. Since the 1960s Anderson and Tull have explored countless different musical paths and styles. Some of these produced some of my all-time favorite songs and recordings. Others I hated. But he never seemed to be resting on his laurels. Here I feel like I'm reading a chapter that's not much different from the last chapter.But listening to the songs individually, I like a lot of them. As I write this I'm trying to count the beats of the off-time closer, "Cold Dead Reckoning," with its grim imagery of a future of lost souls navigating their way over a metaphysical Doggerland "amongst the ranks and files of walking dead." I hear crunching minor-key guitar-bass-piano unison figures, a sprightly flute solo. A hopeful verse about "angels watching over" at the end doesn't convince me, as the music continues to growl on as before. Yet there follow a sweet, gentle instrumental coda, reminded us that while things may not turn out well for humanity as we teem over and ruin our only planet, our capacity to create and to appreciate beauty will be with us as long as we live. So let's raise the cup of crimson wonder to Ian Anderson as he charges not-so-gently through his seventh decade." - Seattle Pi
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  • How many of you remember Tritonus?  Back in 1995, there was a Norwegian sampler CD called simply "A Gathering of 8 Norwegian Progressive Metal Bands".  Besides Spiral Architect, Trivial Act, and Manitou there were other bands that managed to score record deals.  Most of them disappeared.  Tritonus was on the sampler.  Despite having some of the strongest material on the CD the band never signed with a label, and despite years of trying, never released any material.  Band leader/virtuoso guitarist Carl August Tidemann would time to time mention that Tritonus was working on its debut, but after almost 2 decades everyone pretty much took it with a grain of salt.  Well...better late than never!If you've been listening to prog metal for a long time you know that the sound has changed a bit over the years.  Tritonus' debut turns back the hands of time.  This is a stunning example of prog metal the way we used to know it.  Stunning musicianship with plenty of jolts of technicality.  At this point, the lineup has changed over the years.  In addition to Tidemann, Tritonus now consists of Rolf Kristensen (vocals), Ole Devold (drums) and Thor-Axel Eriksen (guitars).  Lots of guests contribute (my guess is many of these were past members).  Keyboards (courtesy of Circus Maximus' Lasse Finbraten) tend to be put to good use - you hear the occasional solo but mostly its there for texture - the twin guitars weave together with incredible proficiency and dominate.  I have to point out the vocals of Rolf Kristensen.  This guy is amazing!Its a shame that its taken so many years for Tritonus to release this.  Its quite a great album and in a way it makes me a bit sad.  Had it come out 15 years ago, they could have easily risen through the scene.  We are lucky we have it.  Is it closure for Tritonus or the opening of a new era?  Let's hope for the later.  They deserve a better fate and damn I'd want to hear more music from them.  BUY OR DIE!
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  • Arguably the best American prog band going present us with their first album in 8 years.  Its a 47 minute mindf**k of a journey - just one long continuous track.  It starts out in quiet, ambient territory and then transmogrifies into something else.  Guitar leads snake to the fore and then disappear, Mellotrons and Moogs carry you along into the deepest regions of your mind.  Flute and bouzouki and there...and then they are gone.  Intense stuff that walks a similar path to early 70s Pink Floyd.  The band recommends you listen with headphones.  I agree!  Highly recommended.
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  • Its been four years since this British ensemble's debut album.  Been a long time coming but there have been a number of personnel changes in the band.  Founding members Alex Crispin (vox/keys) and bassist Dan Pomlett left the band, while guitarist Nicholas Richards switched over to bass.  While the band went through a state of flux their core sound didn't really change a hell of a lot.  Yeah maybe its pared down a bit but it is still steeped in the sounds of the early 70s.  Mellotron, organ and reeds abound.  Guitar is a bit more dominant but still with that retro Vertigo vibe.  Vocals only appear on one track and they are OK.  Think in terms of an instrumental VDGG in a massive jam session with members of Soft Machine and Eloy.  As if!  I will be hard pressed to come across a better progressive rock album released in 2012.  BUY OR DIE!
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  • Mayan is the other band of Epica founder Mark Jansen.  As you can expect by now from Jansen, he doesn't do anything on a small scale.  Like Epica, Mayan is an epic sounding band.  The raison d'etre of Mayan is melodic death metal.  The band features Lauren Macri providing soprano vocals, Henning Basse on clean male vocals, and Jansen handles the death growls.  There is actually a pretty good balance between clean/death vocals.  As expected, lots of great guests - Floor Jansen appears on a couple of tracks, and Stream Of Passion's Marcel Bovio sings on three.  Dimitris Katsoulis contributes violin.  Mayan has coalesced into a band, as opposed to the debut which really was more of a project.  Symmetry guitarist Frank Schiphorst provides the shred, and ex-Delain bassist Rob Vander Loo is on board as well.  After Forever's Joost van den Broek co-produced the album and you get that larger than life sound that this music craves.   Oddly enough the album actually starts off with the bonus track...its a good one!  Highly recommended.
    $5.00
  • "Massive Addictive won’t do anything to improve Amaranthe’s relationship with their haters, but the diehard fans will fall in love with the band all over again. The vast majority of fence-sitters, meanwhile, will find themselves drawn in by what is, quite frankly, a surprisingly addictive listen that justifies the wonderfully arrogant album title. Still pop metal to the core, Amaranthe’s all-important third album kicks off by putting the fans in the comfort zone with ‘Dynamite’, a track echoing the band’s previous album, The Nexus. It’s the neck-wreck-bounce of the following track and first single ‘Drop Dead Cynical’ – imagine Marilyn Manson’s ‘The Beautiful People’ as a song on the Grease soundtrack – that sets the tone for Massive Addictive. The vocal melodies are infectious to a fault, the riffs are bold, all supported by steel hard backbone seemingly yanked from Hypocrisy frontman Peter Tägtgren’s command center for his industrial-rocked metal outfit Pain.‘Drop Dead Cynical’, ‘Unreal’, ‘Trinity’, ‘Massive Addictive’ ‘Skyline’ and ‘Digital World’ are guaranteed to become fan favourites, charged with more adrenaline than some folks give Amaranthe credit for. There are two ballads to be had this time out – ‘True’ and ‘Over And Done’ – both of them loaded with radio potential and too smart for the suits making programming decisions. The album winds down with the heaviest song of Amaranthe’s career to date, ‘An Ordinary Abnormality’, featuring the sextet pulling out all the stops and crushing any ridiculous notions that pop metal has no balls.It’s nice to hear how Amaranthe avoided disaster by not rehashing the formula of their first two records. Their three-vocalist attack (female, male, cookie monster – in that order) added a certain level of unique from the get-go, but wouldn’t have been enough to make Massive Addictive the sleeper hit it is. This time out, clean singers Elize Ryd and Jake E. show up where you least expect them, harmonizing and trading-off vocal parts more than ever before. And their voices are huge. Case in point on ‘Digital World’ – one of Amaranthe’s strongest songs ever – the exchanges on ‘Unreal’, and Ryd’s vocal nuances and insane range on ‘Danger Zone’. New resident growler Henrik Englund Wilhelmsson (Scarpoint) is a major player on the record rather than merely a hellish enhancement, even taking the lead and stealing the show on ‘An Ordinary Abnormality’. And with guitarist Olof Mörck being one of the primary songwriters, the album boasts riffs and leads by the truckload.What makes the new album work ultimately is the live feel of the music. It’s all well and good to produce polished commercially appealing metal in the studio, quite another to take it out of the can on stage and blow an audience away with a full-on musical performance. Amaranthe have done just that for years, and the material on Massive Addictive is begging to be unleashed live. It’ll go over a storm and then some." - Carl Begai
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  • "In the year 222 B.C., deep within the dangerous jungles of east Asia in the country of Zhongguo, the young and terrified king of Qi, with his back against the wall of water on his eastern border, frantically sent 300,000 men to his shrinking western border to fight the cruel and powerful Qin leader Zhào Zhèng. You see, Qi was the last, and farthest east, of the warring states in ancient China. Zhèng fooled his inexperienced and terrified enemy and invaded from the north instead, thus easily capturing the young king. With the last territory conquered, Zhèng declared himself “ShiHuangdi,” the very first emperor. With his rule of the newly unified country, Zhèng standardized Chinese writing, bureaucracy, law, currency, and a system of weights and measures. His reign developed a road system, massive fortifications and palaces. Under this “Qin Dynasty,” the emperor formed the Great Wall of China to stop invading barbarians from the North. Thy Majestie’s latest album is a conceptual tribute to his legacy, one that would unify China for 2,000 years.The album’s most amazing success is the weaving in of classic oriental music with its own symphonic “majestie.” By definition, this is symphonic metal. From a listener’s perspective, this is an audio historical text book that covers a period of history rich in culture and war over a soundtrack of beautifully crafted melodies and a truly phenomenal vocal performance.Much like “Hastings 1066" and “Jeanne d’Arc,” the band perfectly blends music of the historical period with its own. With “ShiHuangdi,” sounds of the ancient guzheng can be heard in songs like “Farewell” and the closer “Requiem.” Most bands merely use history as subject matter for lyrics, but “ShiHuangdi” is more than just a history lesson. The album has a real sense of the orient embedded within the soundscapes Thy Majestie presents. Where Cthonic and Myrath expertly blend the culture of respective native homelands with metal music, Thy Majesite morphs its symphonic metal style around the cultural sounds the album's subject matter, with the band members as movie score composers.The album's breathtaking orchestrations are highlighted by gigantic and fetching choruses. Among the best include “Siblings of Tian,” “Seven Reigns,” “Ephemeral,” and “Farewell.” The euro-blasted riffs of Simone Campione have never sounded better than when drenched in the soy sauce of the must-hear keyboard brilliance of Giuseppe Carrubba. The album is an Asiatic journey with a side of duck sauce, and from the opening jungle scene set by "Zhongguo" (the original name of China), the listener is whisked away to a time long ago to watch modern day China take form.In yet another vocal change (the band’s sixth and fourth over the last four releases), Thy Majestie has finally found “the one.” The wonderfully impressive vocals come via Alessio Taormina (Crimson Wind), who has a range that leans towards Fabio Lione, in terms of ability. Incidentally, the comparison can easily be tested with Lione manning the helm on “End of the Days.” Taormina’s high range is perfect, especially in songs like “Seven Reigns,” “Harbinger of a New Dawn” and “Under the Same Sky.”After a darker departure from its true sound on the 2008 release “Dawn,” Thy Majestie has come full circle to the glorious Italian euro-metal that many U.S. fans will hate because of its “stereotypical” and “overdone” sound. I am not one of those. There are enough metal bands in this world to satisfy the tastes of pretty much every fan. If you are one of those metal fans that expects every single band to create new styles or redefine old ones with every single release, then Thy Majestie is not the music you are looking for. For those fans that never tire of the spellbinding melodies, soaring vocals, and movie score majesty, “ShiHuangdi” should be on the ever growing "short list" of great albums released this year.Highs: All the brilliance of Italian euro power metal over a bed of white rice.Lows: Will not impress anyone that hates the stereotypical Italian symphonic metal.Bottom line: Confucius say: 'When stuck in musical mud....press play on 'ShiHuangDi.'" - Metal Underground
    $8.00
  • "Is it just me, or does it seem like every album I review this year comes from Italy? Hearing Fogalord’s debut album described as “melodic power metal” and seeing that that band was signed to Limb for the release was really all I needed to dive right in without a backwards glance.Well, it’s a darn good thing that I’m so steeped in the genre, or I might have become quickly disillusioned with Fogalord’s (more on that name, shortly) shamelessly energetic performance of what many would undoubtedly label “standard” Euro-power. You’ve heard this line at Black Wind a hundred times before, and you’ll hear it a hundred times again before I bury my brightly-colored fluttering power metal banner: there’s not much that’s original about A Legend To Believe In, but boy, is it ever a fun album to listen to!Grand orchestral synths (and a surprisingly varied number of keyboard sounds) support the multitalented lead singer/keyboardist Dany All in his support (I think?) of the Fog Lord’s name. That’s right, the core of the band is one ambitious fellow (and he’s also the keyboard player and programmer for Synthphonia Suprema, another old Italian heartthrob of mine. In fact, it turns out that 3 of the 4 members of Fogalord hail from that band). If I’m not mistaken, this is another cheesy fantasy concept album bent on either the victory or defeat of the Fog Lord (the lyrics aren’t always the most intelligible, and I have a promo copy). It doesn’t really matter, since no one listens to Italian fantasy power metal for its stories anyways (I’m looking at you, Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody Of Fire).Ok, as much as I’m avoiding taking this album seriously, there’s real talent here, and it isn’t only present in the swirling, masterfully atmospheric synths. The guitar work is really quite good. There’s a lack of real guitar focus, but once in a while Stefano Paolini rips loose a salvo or two before he smugly slips back into his supporting rhythm role. Drums and bass thunder on in good sync, but if Fogalord breaks the standard Italian power metal mold in some way, it’s that they show admirable restraint at some times. Sure, there’s a ton of charging double bass, but we’ve got a whole lot of material to break it up, and it never gets to the point where my musical nerves are rubbed raw by unceasingly high tempos.The best music on this album is well-spread. Opener “At The Gates Of The Silent Storm” is solid, but “The Fog Lord” is where the band rips things wide open. This might as well be the title track (because I don’t know what else “Fogalord” could mean) for all its grandeur and memorability, and I’ve been listening to it almost daily since this album came up for review. The anthemic title track (the actual one, this time) “A Legend To Believe In” and the crashing and varied “The Day Of Fire” help round out an album that’s really a great representation of quality key-focused Italian power metal.Though its predictability and disinterest in musical trailblazing will ensure that A Legend To Believe In won’t turn the heads of any non-Euro metal fans, there’s enough great headbanging content here to make it an excellent selection for fans of this very happy, melodic corner of the genre.  I recommend it highly myself for fans of Highlord, Rhapsody, Derdian, and, of course, Synthphonia Suprema. Ideal for birthday parties, baby showers, and funeral wakes." - Black Wind Metal
    $13.00
  • First it was Circus Maximus and now Spheric Universe Experience.  The fourth album from this French metal band finds them moving away from their progressive roots.  The New Eve is more immediate and in your face.  Their trademark complexity is pretty much gone.  Instead you get a lot of down tuned guitar crunch.  Keyboards are present but for the most part soloing seems to be a thing of the past.  Fred's sound likes on an industrial edge as the keys are used to punctuate the guitars.  At times the old SUE of Anima and Unreal pops up but its not as often as I'd like.  I'm not sure what the rationale was for the band to go in this direction.  Only their fans will be able to decide if it was a success.
    $14.00
  • Long running German thrash band led by female vocalist Sabine Classen. Agony Of Death features lots of special guests including Ferdy Dornberg (keyboardist from Rough Silk and Axel Rudi Pell) as well as guitarist Ralph Santolla. This is the limited edition that comes with bonus tracks and special features.
    $15.00