Epica is not to be taken lightly. Yes, the Dutch symphonic metal band features string instrumentals and choral scores juxtaposed with mad-crazy guitar licks and death grunts. Yes, angel-voiced frontwoman Simone Simmons is fucking hot. Yes, she's featured prominently (and occasionally somewhat nekkid) on several of Epica's album covers.
But despite all these less-than-brutal facts, Epica rocks — hard-core, balls-out. Because you know what's really brutal, and truly blacker than the blackest black, times infinity? I'll tell you: real-world evil. Emotion. The human condition.
As of late, Epica's been engrossed in concept sagas (its 2009 album, Design Your Universe, is a continuation of 2005's Consign to Oblivion) and hopeful, heady topics like religious tolerance. But lest you forget, Mark Jansen, the principal songwriter and lead guitarist, tackled 9/11 ("Façade of Reality"), Islamic fundamentalism ("Seif al Din"), and the Catholic priest sex-abuse scandal ("Cry for the Moon") on Epica's very first album. So if you think you can handle all that, hit up Culture Room. If you can't handle heavy metal at its heaviest, then stay home and listen to Rush.