In the Netherlands we like to mix things that otherwise would not have been thought of. This gave birth to great things like stroopwafels and the combination of gummy candy and licorice. After releasing their spectacle “Omega Alive”, the band members of Epica must have had the same idea and thought: “What if we build some insane collaborations?”
Thus, “The Alchemy Project” was born. Guitarist Mark Janssen explains: “The idea behind this concept is cooperation. In the world of today with all its chaos and challenges we as humanity will need to work together in order to solve and rise above the problems in order to create a new world where we can all shine again. We are all connected, and when a part of humanity is suffering, we are all suffering from it.“
When you think about what bands or artists Epica should collaborate with, some names could come to mind easily. Friends of the band like Tommy Karevik (Kamelot), Charlotte Wessels (ex-Delain) and Frank Schiphorst (MaYaN) have found their way to the record. But besides that, some big surprises are in store for you when you go into “The Alchemy Project” blindly. Who would have thought that names like Fleshgod Apocalypse, Uriah Heep, Myrkur and Damnation Plan would work so well with Epica.
Bass-player Rob van der Loo explains about how the collaboration worked with Shining, with whom “The Final Lullaby” was recorded: “I’ve been a big fan of Shining since the first time I heard them. Our intention was to make a mash-up between Epica and Shining so we thought it would be a good idea if I would come up with some riffs that would be typical Shining and they would do the complete opposite”. The song contains something you would definitely not expect in an Epica record – a saxophone.
Phil Lanzon from Uriah Heep can be heard on the second tract of the record, “Wake the World”. Van der Loo explains: “Apparently Phil was very impressed by our “Retrospect” DVD and told me that one day he would love to make this same kind of music. That was something that I always kept in the back of my mind.” His keys give a retro vibe to the song in which Tommy Karevik brings his powerful voice.
My two favorite tracks of “The Alchemy Project” are “Sirens – Of Blood and Water” and “The Miner.” In the former we are seduced by three sirens who want to lure you into the sea. The voices of Simone Simons, Charlotte Wessels and Myrkur (Amalie Bruun) blend so well. Combine this with the melody and it’s hard not to drift off.
In “The Miner” the build up and guitar track could have just as easily been one of Delain. The smoothness of Simons’ voice combined with that of Asim Searah and Niilo Sevänen, make such a powerful track. Add the drums of Roel van Helden and the beat keeps getting stuck in your head.
If you are familiar with the guest artists, it’s much easier to recognize the specific sounds. For example, in “Death is not the End”, the guitars of Frank Schiphorst (MaYaN) combined with Björn Strid (Soilwork) make the song actually feel like a MaYaN production. Same goes for “The Great Tribulation” where the typical drum/guitar pattern of Fleshgod Apocalypse is easy to point out.
“Human Devastation” might be the track that is furthest from what fans of Epica know to expect. For me, it might be too heavy, but for others it might spark their interest to get to know other metal subgenres.
And with that, “The Alchemy Project” delivers just what Epica intends to do. They merge other genres and combine it with their own sound. In all but one song, Epica still has their own style present, which is not easy. “The Alchemy Project” is no typical Epica release, but does a great job experimenting with other artists, delivering one hell of a record.
Release Date: November 11 2022
Label: Atomic Fire Records
1. The Great Tribulation: Fleshgod Apocalypse
- Wake the World: Phil Lanzon (Uriah Heep) & Tommy Karevik (Kamelot)
- The Final Lullaby: Shining
- Sirens – Of Blood and Water: Charlotte Wessels & Myrkur
- Death is not the End: Frank Schiphorst (MaYaN) & Björn “Speed” Strid (Soilwork)
- Human Devastation: Henri Sattler (God Dethroned), Sven de Caluwé (Aborted)
- The Miner: Asim Searah (Damnation Plan), Niilo Sevänen (Insomnium), Roel van Helden (Powerwolf)