Album Of The Year 2021 – Number 26

Welcome to day 5 of my 2021 ‘Album of the Year Top 30 Countdown’ series. No big intro today, except to remind you that you can find links to numbers 30-27 below, as well as a link to an ‘honourable mentions’ post that kicked off this year’s list, and links to my annual end-of-year series since I began in 2012. I hope you have fun taking a look.

But back to the main event, and today’s pick…

Number 26

Epica

“Omega”

Nuclear Blast

Release Date: 26 February 2021

Score Of Much Metal: 93%

Today’s choice may be a well-known, household name within metal circles, but it’s another first for me, as it’s the first time that Epica have ever featured in this list. I’ve always admired the band, but their previous three albums released since I’ve created this website have always fallen short of my top 30. Until now, thanks to the rather wonderful ‘Omega’.

Even now, I’m hearing new things that I never heard or paid attention to when I was reviewing this beast back in February when the nights were as dark and cold as they are again now. And that’s because there is a lot going on within the compositions. That’s always been the case, because Epica have never shied away from creating big, bombastic and symphonic metal affairs. But the big difference between ‘Omega’ and previous efforts, is that this one instantly made it’s mark. The whole thing just felt more cohesive, smooth, and memorable.

When I say ‘memorable’, I’m obviously referring to the hooks and melodies that feature on ‘Omega’. In the past, I’ve had a hard time really connecting with these elements, or have struggled to hear enough of them truth be told. ‘Omega’ gets it spot on and so there’s a lovely blend of all of the various elements that make Epica such a force to be reckoned with. One of the best symphonic metal offerings of 2021, make no mistake.

What I wrote at the time:

“The music is multi-layered, complex in its construction, varied, dramatic, and full of competing styles of music, everything from death metal to classical, from folk to melodic metal. It makes for an intense listening experience…

…this time round, there was a concerted effort to create more high energy, catchy material that would go down a storm in front of a packed venue. And, on balance, I’d say that Epica succeeded. I say this because, for all the drama and complexity, there were plenty of moments during my first listen, where I immediately took a liking to a melody, a chorus, a bridge, or a vocal line, instantly firing a desire within me to press play again.

 I have to admit it, Epica have well and truly pulled me back into the fold. I wasn’t expecting to like ‘Omega’ this much if I’m honest, but here I am with plenty of egg on my face. Perhaps the five-year hiatus has done the band and I some good? Maybe. I actually think it as simple as this though: Epica have delivered the album that has managed to find the near-perfect blend of extreme metal, symphonic majesty, and melody. As such, whilst the songs may be multi-layered and full of over-the-top pomposity, they remain completely listenable, enjoyable, and as addictive as a rush of adrenaline. Simply put, ‘Omega’ is almost certainly the best symphonic metal album that I have heard in a long time.”

Read the full review here.

The list this year so far…

Number 27

Number 28

Number 29

Number 30

‘Honourable Mentions’

Also, if you’ve missed my lists from previous years, you can check them out here:

2020

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

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