Dutch symphonic metal band Epica was formed by vocalist and guitarist Mark Jansen just after he left metal group After Forever. The band is best recognized for their symphonic style of music and the combination of male growls with female vocals performed by Mark Jansen and Simone Simons, respectively. The group comprises of six members including Rob van der Loo as bassist, Isaac Delahaye as backing vocalist and lead guitarist; Arien van Weesenbeek as drummer, grunter and spoken words vocalist; Simone Simon as lead vocalist; Coen Janssen as pianist and synthesizer, and Mark Jensen as rhythm guitarist and grunter. Though all band members contribute to writing the music, it is mostly Jansen and Simon who come up with most of the lyrical content, which mainly reflects upon life philosophies, world events, religion, as well as science.
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Since its inception, the band has released a total of five studio offerings and an instrumental album called The Score – An Epic Journey. They released their most recent studio offering titled Requiem for the Indifferent in 2012. With the band’s hit symphonic metals tunes and a new album, it is no surprise to see Epica tickets being the topic of town talk among metal fans. After leaving his previous band, Jansen started searching for musicians who were more inclined to play symphonic/classical styles, so that he could form his own symphonic band which was initially called Sahara Dust. Towards the end of 2002, the group featured Helena Michaelsen as its frontwoman, who was soon replaced by mezzo-soprano Simons, who at the time was Jansen’s girlfriend. The group’s lineup was then completed with keyboardist Coen Janssen, bassist Yves Huts, guitarist Ad Sluijter, and drummer Jeroen Simons. Soon the group was renamed Epica based on inspiration from Kamelot’s EP.
The band gathered together a choir consisting of four women and two men, as well as a string orchestra, which originally comprised of an upright bass, two cellos, two violas and three violins. In 2002, while the band was still performing under their previous name, they made a two-track demo called Cry for the Moon, as a result of which they got a record deal with Transmission Records.
Epica released their debut album in late 2003 titled The Phantom Agony, with producer Sascha Paeth who had worked on material for rock acts like Kamelot, Rhapsody of Fire, and Angra. The track Façade of Reality included in this album was based on the theme of September 11 attacks, including speeches made by Tony Blair. Following three singles included Cry for the Moon, Feint, and The Phantom Agony. The group released its second album in 2005 called Consign to Oblivion, which was marked by cultural themes of the Maya Civilization that are more visible in songs of the series A New Age Dawns. The album includes guest singers from the likes of Kamelot’s Roy Khan on the track Trois Vierges. In return, Epica also joined Kamelot on some of their tours as a support band while promoting the latter’s album The Black Hero, on which Simons had appeared as a guest vocalist.
In 2007, Epica went on its first tour of North America, issuing their third album called The Divine Conspiracy on their newly signed recording contract with Nuclear Blast. The same year the group announced their new all-time drummer Arien van Weesenbeek. They toured across North America again in 2008 alongside other well-known bands Symphony X and Eternity.
The group has come to be described as bombastic, aggressive and a little excessive since some of their songs are majestic and grand while others are more introspective and subdued. It has been noticed for having progressive propensities while their music still carries on a certain gothic atmosphere with heavy sentimentality. In additions some of their characteristic elements include occasional embellishments of spoken word lyrics or recitals in Arabic as well as Latin. Their music form a whole new kind of its own with Simone’s flawlessly refined tone on one hand juxtaposed with Jansen’s death grunts on the other. To experience this extraordinary flavor of sound, grab some cheap Epica tickets and be there to see for yourself.
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