Having originally only received a Japanese release in 2017, Epica’s EP of Symphonic Metal covers of music from the anime series Attack on Titan – appropriately named ‘Epica VS Attack on Titans Songs’ – will be receiving a worldwide release via Nuclear Blast in July 2018. The four pieces covered seem ripe for the Epica treatment with their drama and bombast befitting the Japanese approach to music surrounding their popular culture. The EP contains two versions of each song, the first featuring Simone Simons and Mark Jansen’s vocals, and the second instrumental.

The EP begins with the deep, dramatic, foreboding orchestral piece that opens Crimson Bow and Arrow, with the choir introduced shortly after. Militaristic drums kick in before the track launches into fast-paced, dramatic, Epica. Though the pace is faster than even the most rapid-fire of Epica songs due to its provenance, there is still plenty of space to showcase Simons’ vocals. With such speed and dynamism, it even sounds colourful. Jansen also contributes harsh vocals, and it’s in these heavier sections that the track feels more traditionally Epica. The awesome shred duel between guitarist Isaac Delahaye and keyboardist Coen Janssen is a highlight of the track that still carries the Japanese flavour. As the track moves back into orchestra and choir, the dramatic sci-fi element is certainly captured, as it is with Jansen’s simultaneously threatening and profound coda that is present on both the lead and instrumental versions of the track.

Wings of Freedom is even faster and more dramatic than the previous track, with heavy riffs and an absolutely relentless pace. Furious vocals from Jansen are offset superbly against some gorgeous moments from Simons, while Rob van der Loo provides an impressive bass foundation beneath the rapid vocal exchanges. Wings of Freedom is a very dense track, but still showcases great clarity in the lead guitars and keys, even as they become quite chaotic deeper into the track.

If Inside These Walls was a House is ethereal and gentle, with soothing vocals from Simons. The slow orchestral movements softly support Simons’ vocals, eventually ascending as Simons’ vocals pick up speed to a dramatic orchestral crescendo, with the heavy elements coming in to bring deeper density to the track, along with a great sense of triumph.

Dedicate your Heart isn’t quite as ridiculously fast-paced as the first two tracks, and in that sense runs at more of a typical Epica pace, helping ground the track in the band’s usual gravitas. That being said, the track is still powerful, dense, and filled with orchestral and choral contributions. This track provides the best use of heavy riffs and drums amongst the generally more light-hearted atmosphere of the EP, including a cool though brief interlude showcasing Arien van Weesenbeek’s formidable skills on drums. This is followed by another great guitar solo that really pelts along, and an absolutely beautiful piano contribution followed by further frenetic keys.

While brief and in a sense essentially a novelty piece, ‘Epica VS Attack on Titan Songs’ is an enjoyable listen, a fast-paced sci-fi anime romp that above all is just heaps of fun. No doubt at least one of these songs will be a feature of future live sets to really get the crowd moving and the blood pumping. Even in the realm of covers Epica never disappoint, and fans will surely appreciate this offering to tide them over until the band’s next original release.