Sjak : During the on June 1st in the Sandlane Studio held listening session, it already became quite clear that the new Epica album ‘ The Holographic Principle’ was really an awesome album and that conclusion has only been confirmed in a very convincing way during the many listens that the album has undergone since then! The twelve songs that are to be found on the record, which account for more than seventy-two minutes of high-quality symphonic power metal, are in comparison with the previous releases quite a bit more adventurous and varied and it’ s very obvious that the band has shifted the borders of the Epica-spectrum somewhat further. That ensures that you will discover new elements after every listen and as a result of that boredom will not set in very easily. The entertaining intro ‘ Eidola’ kicks the album off as a very well succeeded introduction to ‘ Edge Of The Blade’ , which in my opinion is one of the strongest tunes of‘ The Holographic Principle’ : heavy riffs, great clean vocals and grunts, big choirs, a lovely chorus and the necessary instrumental bombastic and orchestral elements are the ingredients that are of vital importance for a great Epica song and all those are abundantly present. The following ‘ A Phastasmic Parade’ knows quite some Eastern influences and has a lovely fresh and original guitar riff and a very neat and heavy second part. The band knows to prolong this high quality level to the end of the record in a seemingly effortless fashion and that accounts for the fact that you will not lose interest for a single second. Epica has the gift to make rather complex tunes sound very catchy and that’ s a feat by itself. All twelve tracks on offer here are very worthwhile listening to but I’ d still like to give a few a special mention, like the first single ‘ Universal Death Squad’ which has a very heavy opening part and later on transfers into a lovely headbanger with quite some melody and fantastic drum parts of Ariën “animal”van Wesenbeek, who’ s is doing great on the entire record as a matter of fact. Next to ‘ Universal Death Squad’ especially the for Epica standards quite accessible ‘ Beyond The Matrix’ , the ultra-heavy ‘ Tear Down Your Walls’ and the long, extensive and very varied title track ‘ The Holographic Principle’ are very much to my liking. Absolute highlight of this fantastic album is for me however the awesome ballad ‘ Once Upon A Nightmare’ with an excelling Simone Simons, who once more proves to belong to the absolute best female singers in the genre. Although the album after the first listen immediately leaves a very positive impression, this is reinforced by every following spin. I really thought that Epica had reached their creative high with predecessor ‘ The Quantum Enigma’ , but with this ‘ The Holographic Principle’ they very convincingly prove me wrong. So far this album is by far and without a doubt the best record that has been released this year and I’ m quite sure that my opinion in this will still stand by the end of 2016. A truly awesome masterpiece... Am I allowed so say that? Yes, I’ m definitely allowed to say that!