One complaint that metal purists have had about some of Epica's more orchestral work is that at times, they have ended up sounding more classical than metal. But for those who value intrigue and adventure more than they value purity, the very fact that a metal band has had some honest-to-God interaction with the European classical world is fascinating -- and The Classical Conspiracy documents the Dutch gothic metal band's June 14, 2008 appearance at the Miskolc International Opera Festival in Miskolc, Hungary. That gathering is hardly Ozzfest; it is a classical-oriented event that has been going on since 2001, and the performers are much more likely to pay tribute to Béla Bartók than to tackle anything that's metal-related. But as The Classical Conspiracy demonstrates, Epica take their classical music seriously. Disc one finds Epica (who are joined by a 40-piece orchestra and a 30-piece vocal choir) performing arrangements of a variety of familiar classical and film music, ranging from Giuseppe Verdi's "Dies Irae" and Antonio Vivaldi's "Presto," to John Williams' "The Imperial March" from Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. But if the metal factor is generally low on Disc one, that isn't the case on Disc two -- which is dominated by Epica's own material. Although the Euro-classical influence is quite strong on Disc two, the main ingredient during that portion of the concert is gothic metal. But the classical lovers in the audience were no doubt well aware of the fact that lead vocalist Simone Simons is a classically trained mezzosoprano. If Disc one isn't metal enough for the metal purists and Disc two isn't classical enough for the classical purists, that doesn't make Epica's performances any less inspired or enriching. The Classical Conspiracy is a fine document of Epica's 2008 appearance at the Miskolc International Opera Festival.