Released by: AFM Records
Release Date: November 5th, 2013
Genre: Progressive Metal
– Tom Englund – Evergrey
– Henning Basse – Metalium, UliJonRoth, Sons of Seasons
– Ida Haukland – Triosphere
– Matt Marinelli – Borealis
– Tezzi Persson – Between the Silence
Samuel Arkan: guitars – Epysode
Léo Margarit: drums – Pain Of Salvation
Simone Mularoni: guitars – DGM, Empyrios
Mike LePond:bass – Symphony x
Julien Spreutels: keyboards – Ethernity
01. File 4180-2
02. The Arch
03. Morning Rose
05. The Black Parade
07. Garden Of Exile
08. Raven’s Curse
09. Living Fortress
11. The Inheritance
12. Now And Forever
13. Forgotten Symphony
Samuel Arkan (Virus IV) is back with his Epysode all star project and the sophomore album ‘Fantasmagoria’ is an irresistible exploit in the power metal genre.
Together with his partner in crime Julien Spreutels (Ethernity) Samuel wrote and composed this intricate and sometimes dark concept that is a true showcase for excellent musicianship. Just take a look at the line up and you’ll know you’re in for a treat: bombastic keys, slashing guitar riffs, thundering bass, thrilling drums and top notch vocals delivered by an impressive ensemble led by the distinctive voice of Tom Englund (Evergrey) featuring on 5 songs.
Although I am not that familiar with the other guest vocalists I only can say that their contributions to this spectacle is flawless. It was a clever move of Samuel to bring in all these international guests physically to his Noise Factory studio in Belgium. You might say that this is a bit outdated these days with all the computer and internet facilities musicians have, but creating a ‘bonding’ atmosphere certainly did the album good. In the promo sheet Samuel stated about this ‘All the artists who participated in this album gave their soul to it, gave their best, they travelled deeper into sensitivity and sincerity’ and that is really what you feel when listening to this album’.
The concept story itself (a sequel to the 2011 debut album ‘Obessions’) is not that clear to me, but what the hell, the 14 tracks delivered here will for sure please a lot of music fans. ‘Fantasmagoria’ blends the aggressiveness of power metal with the complexity of progressive metal and despite the over-all dark, gothic feel there is a instant urge to shout along as the melodies are very strong and mainly in the up-tempo range. We can hear some blistering guitar work here delivered by Samuel himself but also Simone Mularoni (DGM) shows his neo-classical skills on the fretwork. The keyboard sound by Julien Spreutels (Ethernity) also stands out here as it the main instrument to create the haunting but theatrical atmosphere. And what about the rhythm section, only the names tell the story :Leo Margarit (Pain Of Salvation) and Mike Lepond (Symphony X). Finally the mixing and mastering was done by Jacob Hansen at Hansen Studios in Danmark giving the album the exact massive sound it needed.
It is difficult to mention some highlights, the whole concept is very coherent (just take a look at the excellent artwork as well). I especially like the way the album keeps the attention by slowing down the pace at the right moment. Apart from the intro (‘File 4180-2’) we have a couple of interludes (‘Garden Of Exile’, ‘The Inheritence’) and some genuine gentleness in ballads like the title track in which the Eglund/Haukland male/female duet really sends chivers down my spine. And what about the epic of the album ‘Forgotten symphony’ where all the elements seamlessly fall together. Goosebumps !
So what we have got here people is an epic masterpiece. A very distinctive ‘metal opera’ thanks to the intense and expressive vocal parts, the passion for melody and the killer instrumentation. It will be quite a challenge for Samuel Arkan to top this work but let’s not talk about the future too much, just buy this one and enjoy !
Written by Ruud