Today we take a look inside the special editions of the new albums from Epica and Xandria. First up is The Quantum Enigma Exclusive Limited Edition Earbook, purchased from recordstore.co.uk. It costs £29.99 at time of writing. Check out the Epica Buying Guide for other places you can purchase this and other editions.
They weren't exaggerating when they described this earbook as "lush and oversized"! It comes in the form of a hardback book about the size of a vinyl record sleeve, and has 48 pages.
This edition comes wrapped in plastic and as this handy sticker tells you, it contains 3 CDs.
The back of the book has the tracklisting. The first CD includes the main 13 tracks of the album plus one bonus track, Dreamscape. The second has 4 acoustic versions: Canvas of Life, In All Conscience, Dreamscape and Natural Corruption, while the final CD contains the full album in instrumental.
The CDs are set into the front of the book. The packaging is very solid and it's easy to get them in and out - a big improvement from your traditional jewel case.
The book itself features very high quality photography and artwork from Tim Tronckoe and Stefan Heilemann (a.k.a. Heile). There are numerous shots of the full band and portraits of Simone, plus each lyric page is accompanied by a photo of one of the band members. The lyrics are in large print and easy to read. In a way it's a shame that the photos are attached to the book - they're so nice, you'll wish you could put them on display!
Next we have Xandria and their Sacrificium Box Set (reviewed last week), purchased from Napalm Records. At time of writing it is currently €29.99, reduced from €32.99.
If you saw the previous unboxing of Delain's The Human Contradiction, you may recognise this packaging - both box sets are from Napalm Records and have a very similar design and contents. The box is chunky, about the width of a normal CD case but with a much bigger depth.
The box art features elements from the CD cover and the tracklisting is on the back. CD1 has the main 12 tracks of the album, while CD2 has bonus track The Watcher and the whole album in instrumental.
The package is opened sideways to reveal the pendant and flag, with the album underneath - all wrapped in plastic. The CD is a hardcover mediabook, and the reverse side is the same as the reverse of the box set (just with a few flames added on the design).
The flag is impressive, featuring the band logo and the phoenix. Hanging it should get rid of the fold lines!
The pendant also features the logo and phoenix, though it's a little hard to see the detail. It comes on a rope necklace that you can tie yourself to whatever length you want.
CD1 is in the front of the booklet, while CD2 is in the back. It has the usual plastic casing, but seems fairly sturdy.
The booklet features artwork and full colour photography of the band members accompanying the lyrics, which are clear and easy to read.
And that's it for today's unboxing! If you're looking for high quality CD editions I would certainly recommend both of these. If you happen to have extra money, you can get the Epica Earbook as part of a merch bundle as well.
How about you? Do you collect CD box sets? Which is your favourite? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter!