||Phantom Agony Vinyl LP (2003)
EPICA albums Dutch guitarist/vocalist Mark Jansen unveiled his highly anticipated post-After Forever undertaking -- a new orchestral metal project named Epica -- via 2004's The Phantom Agony album. Clearly patterned on Jansen's former band, Epica fuses his deathly croaking with the angelic tones of a classically trained mezzo-soprano named Simone Simons, over a lush foundation of symphonic power metal. However, as compared to After Forever's pre-established blueprint (and unfortunately, continual comparisons are inevitable here) songs like "Sensorium," "Cry for the Moon," and "Illusive Consensus" tend to prioritize guitars over keyboards, while making greater use of full-on choir backdrops. And although she is a gifted operatic talent by any definition, lead vocalist Simons simply lacks ...