Epinikion – Inquisition
Epinikion is a Symphonic Metal band from Belgium formed in 2020. Created by two former athletes, the band’s name comes from Greek folklore. An Epinikion is a “hymn for the winner,” a fitting name for this group. Inquisition is a cinematic opus telling a story of overcoming desperate odds to prevail over prejudice and hatred. As with many symphonic pieces, significant elements of Power and Progressive Metal fill out the space, rounding the sound to support the epic story, the journey our protagonist must take to achieve their heart’s desire.
- Renate de Boer – Keyboards
- Robert Tangerman – Guitars
- Guest Artists
- Eleonora Damiano – Vocals
- Levent Gasgil – Lead Guitars
- Emre Demir – Bass
- Loek Verlaan – Stand Up And Fight
- Tamara Bouwhuis – In The Middle Of The Night
- Laura Guldemond – False Faced Demon
- Monique de Bruin – If I Could Turn Back Time
- Debby Zimmermann – If I Could Turn Back Time
Inquisition was independently released on April 21, 2022.
- The Council Of Troubles
- Love So Sublime
- Welcome To The Wonderful World Of Jealousy
- Stand Up And Fight
- On The Brink Of Despair
- In The Middle Of The Night
- Sail Away
- False Faced Demon
- If I Could Turn Back Time
- Strangers In The Dark
- The Courage To Change
Inquisition is a massively complex record. There is a story and a score. The music is an integral part of the story, augmenting the feelings the words inspire with a cinematic vision meant to create a movie in your mind. It’s a love story set in the time of the Spanish Inquisition between an invader and a local who happens to be “the wrong religion.” I’m a sucker for a Symphonic Power Metal love story, so this album was a real treat for me!
As you can see by the list above, they used multiple vocalists to cover the variety of characters. This allowed them to create different themes and facets for the story. All of this is wrapped lovingly in a series of excellent compositions that influence the story with sonic textures and a wide array of worldly tones that give this album a sense of global reach.
The album opens with a short instrumental, “The Council Of Troubles.” The track has a classical Spanish feel, setting the stage for the rest of the story. The strings are sublime, and the drums give a battle march cadence, indicating this is the Inquisitors leaving Spain and heading towards the Protestant lands to convert or kill the heathens. One poor soldier has no idea that his entire world will be rocked when he falls for “one of them.”
“Inquisition” opens with eerie tones produced by cellos and larger horns, with the smaller strings coming in to lighten the tone. The spoken word lyrics are heavy and deep, giving a lot of weight to the story. This is the beginning of the love story told throughout this magnum opus. The line “Character is not defined by race or religion” is the key to this song. The heart does not see the same things as the eyes and the mind.
Continuing in “Love So Sublime,” a single dance leads to a lifelong desire to be one with another. Again, the critical piece of this song seems to be the line, “What’s meant to be will always find its’ way.” When two people are destined for each other, society may prevent it from happening here on Earth, but eternity is far more patient. Love will find its’ way.
Both of these tracks have interesting musical elements as well. The horns, the choir in the background, and the strings all add to the tension of the story. The Spanish flamenco-style guitars in “Love So Sublime” take the story back to the start, where an Inquisition is taking over land to push a religion that is not wanted or welcomed. The drums vary between melodic and rapid-fire, taking the tempo on a wild journey almost as chaotic as the one the soldiers are enduring.
“Welcome To The Wonderful World Of Jealousy” is melodic at the start, then goes heavily symphonic. The sound is intense and massive, filling the entire soundscape with a joyous noise. The lead guitar work is really nice, and the kick of all the instruments at the first chorus is so well done. The bass guitar is so well embedded in the riff that it sounds like a third guitar beefing up the rhythm rather than just a timekeeping piece. In more of a Power Metal style, it hovers under the riff as the second half of the rhythm. The drums seem to keep a different time. It’s like one supports the lead work and the other the rhythm.
Here is where the love begins to be shunned, not by those in it but by those judging it. “Stand Up And Fight” continues the story from the male perspective, vowing to never let the woman he loves go. The rhythm has a nice chugging pace, moderate in tempo, and is excellent in tuning. The double bass work, using the variable patterns, is just the right amount of compositional complexity to appeal to the drum nerd who loves this style of music.
More ambient sounds open “On The Brink Of Despair” before the main riff kicks in. These short intros really set a tone for the songs. The horns sound forlorn and desperate. The lover is forced into hiding and fears for her life. Should she flee or stay and fight for what she wants? The keyboards are hopeful and upbeat, while much of the guitar work is heavy, depressed, and foreboding, suggesting the inner struggle is creating not just drama but torment in trying to figure out what the right thing to do is.
The first line on the next song, “In The Middle Of The Night,” is what I consider the best line on the whole album, “You care more about moralizing than your own bad attitude.” The duality within the string instruments creates a lot of tension, which is the gist of this song. Religion only cares about being morally correct and superior, not about what is actually right or wrong. The eloquence of that one line is amazing.
This track and the next, “Sail Away,” are musically stunning. Tension, hope, despair, anguish, and joy are all combined in chaotic harmony. In some places, the simple drum beats under the orchestration are contrasted with complex blast beats aiding the riff in others. “Sail Away” is, at its’ basest element, a power ballad. There is a fantastic build from forlorn horns to upbeat strings and harp to an orchestral segment with a gentle rhythm that slowly increases in tempo and volume. The vocals go from subdued to powerful to belting, assisting with the inevitable swell to the final crescendo. There are definite progressive elements to this song, and it is everything I want from this style of music.
“False Faced Demon” is on the heavier side from the start. The riff is killer, and the rhythm fits the tone of the song and the album. The strings are fantastic, adding a beautiful layer of sound to the modern instruments. Lyrically, this is the song of betrayal. That person you thought was on your side is not; in fact, they are feeding you the wrong information to get the outcome they want, not what is best for everyone.
“If I Could Turn Back Time” is a pure ballad. The solitary piano with the strings backing a melancholy voice gives this track a gentle longing for a time when things were better before religion interfered with life and love. The layered vocals in an offset harmony that end up joining together are exceptionally well done. There is a bit of a counterpart vocal melody while singing the same lines. The whole piece is peaceful and uplifting.
The final two tracks bring the heavy back. “Strangers In The Dark” is a massive song with a bombastic rhythm. The drums are powerful, and the bass is thundering. The keys are enormous and fill in all the space the riff leaves, not that there is much space left over. Then, “The Courage To Change” wraps the record with a majestic composition. The delicate guitar leads over the chugging riff, accentuating the rhythm and the keyboards. Everything is built to fit precisely together, leaving nothing left to question.
Lyrically, these songs bring the lovers together in the end; it takes courage to stand for your convictions when the conventional wisdom is to go with the flow, to follow the crowd. That is especially tough when the “crowd” is the church. They bill themselves as infallible but fail to realize love conquers all. During the Inquisition, questioning the church was considered heresy and punishable by death. But love is stronger than death. Love is the fulfillment of the law.
This album is a treatise on how love conquers all. It is universal, something that cannot be denied or held apart. Religions have tried for millennia to claim dominion over what is right and wrong, but they have entirely missed the point. Love is the fulfillment of life, not the worship of a deity believed to punish for wrongdoing as interpreted by humans, usually men with no concept of what love truly is.
This is also a commentary on the world today. Religion is still one of the most prominent excuses for the hatred directed towards “others.” They don’t believe like us. Politics is the next biggest one, at least in the United States. Here, we have many issues with hatred based on race and religion. As many have said, I can only hope that “love wins.” This is the kind of record that fuels my hope for the future.
Epinikion has created a cinematic masterpiece. This record transcends time, relevant to the time period it is set in but also fitting well in modern times. The album is relatable; we’ve all heard stories like this from friends or family; maybe we’ve read it on the internet and secretly shed a tear at the beauty of the tale. Perhaps it reminds you of a favorite movie. Maybe you’ve built this up in the fantasy realm of your very own mind. No matter what, this tale will resonate with anyone who hears it.
- Guitars – 10
- Rhythms – 10
- Vocals – 10
- Songwriting – 01/li>
- Production – 10
- Overall – 10.00