Originally written by Harley Carlson.
Like anyone else who has ever stumbled upon a band for the first time, I initially knew virtually nothing about this atmospheric goth outfit from the Netherlands other than the fact that guitarist Mark Jansen formerly held a position in After Forever. More recently, however, I found my eyes and ears fixed on a video for Kamelot’s “The Haunting (Somewhere In Time)”, featuring Epica front-woman Simone Simons on guest vocals. Fortunately, due to said video, I immediately began to research the band further and within a few days I had their debut offering The Phantom Agony in my hot little hand. I was and still am very impressed with the album, so when the opportunity to review their follow-up release was presented to me, I jumped right on it…. And then the confusion sets in.
At first glimpse of the track listing for We Will Take You With Us, I was puzzled to find that it was nearly identical to that of The Phantom Agony, with the exception of one differing title. Scratching my head, I began to wonder if this was perhaps a reissue of a collection of demos that predated The Phantom Agony but, as it turns out, We Will Take You With Us is actually the audio from the companion live DVD of the same name. Instantly, I start to speculate whether or not one would really need We Will Take You With Us to sit alongside The Phantom Agony in their collection, and the answer is simple – No.
While I have yet to view the DVD counterpart of We Will Take You With Us, I am confident enough to safely guarantee that you would be much better off in investing your cash into the DVD rather than this CD. Considering there is no audible audience on any of these tracks, I’m not so convinced that this was really recorded in a live setting, though. At the very least, with the DVD you have a visual representation of all the hard work (and maybe an audience?) that was put into making this show possible, not to mention the ever stunning Simone Simons. Accompanied by an eight piece string section and full choir, Epica does a magnificent job at replicating The Phantom Agony, but my sentiment remains that this is by no means essential.
Being that Epica only had a single album under their belt at the time of its unveiling, I’m left with a bit of a questionable taste in my mouth. Hopefully we don’t see the band taking on the new age Iron Maiden marketing practice of releasing a live album and/or DVD between each studio effort. Look, I love Maiden more than any other group in existence, but their habits are really becoming quite redundant.
All in all this review ends up being less of a critique of a CD and more of a warning than anything. Heed it, and buy the We Will Take You With Us DVD instead.