Epica vs Metropole Orkest is a unique collaboration between the symphonic metal band and the Dutch Grammy award winning Metropole Orchestra resulting from a competition to record a track with the orchestra. The chosen track, Beyond the Matrix was the sixth track by Epica on their 7th album The Holographic Principle (2016), a Wagnerian symphonic metal odyssey with choral effects, pumping bass and driving percussion led by the fierce but dulcet tones of Simone Simons. Approximately two thirds of the way through there is a much heavier breakdown with a few jazz progressions that could be overlooked before the launch of a virtuoso guitar solo, before returning to the original theme. It’s a relatively simple structure, with a catchy chorus.
In comparison this collaboration commences in a big band style, which could be the opening to a vintage detective movie or a musical stage show. Please take your seats, ladies and gentlemen please.
It’s a little baffling, then in comes Simone with a more gentle take on the original, percussion joins adding power and poignancy but also familiarity. The vocals are euphoric, a mixed choir truly ascends the track towards Nirvana and then Arjen Lucassen (Ayreon) adds a gorgeous and sympathetic guitar solo. Then the heavy breakdown, which is interestingly interspersed with the orchestra playing in a big band style which is heavy on the 60’s psychedelia (Strawberry Alarm Clock– Incense and Peppermints or Quincy Jones’ Soul Bossa Nova.) It’s incredibly clever, the jazz progressions and transitions are executed flawlessly but I found the interlude incredibly distracting. The B side is the instrumental version of the same track Beyond The Matrix. It’s an incredible body of work, in its entirety unlike any other orchestral collaborations of which I am aware.
It’s great fun, it may well draw classical music afficiandos into the symphonic metal genre by offering the opportunity to dip their toes, but I feel this is more for the hardcore fans of Epica and open minded fans of the genre.
1. Beyond the Matrix – the Battle
2. Beyond the Matrix – the Battle (Orchestral version)
Each Monday The Metal Report sends out a list of all stories, interviews, reviews and features we’ve posted for the previous week. You can sign up for it here.